Venezuela manager Luis Sojo, left, reacts as Miguel Cabrera is congratulated after hitting a home run against Miami Marlins non-roster invitee pitcher Jordan Smith during the seventh inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
While feelings around the world were mixed about Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan baseball team mourned the fallen leader.
Venezuela's baseball team was taking pregame batting practice when players heard that president Chavez had died.
"He was a baseball man," manager Luis Sojo said after a 6-5 loss to the Miami Marlins in a warmup game for the World Baseball Classic. "At the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009, the first call in the morning was his. And after the game, he used to call me, too. It's a very sad moment for our country."
Chavez died Tuesday at age 58 after a nearly two-year fight against cancer.
A Venezuela spokesman said the team had requested a pre-game moment of silence for Chavez and asked that flags be flown at half-staff, but was told all parties involved — the Marlins, Major League Baseball and Roger Dean Stadium — were not prepared to do so.
According to the Miami Herald, the Venezuelan national flag stood at half staff during batting practice. The flag was then returned to full staff, the Herald said.
"It's sad what's happening to our country," first baseman Miguel Cabrera said. "We send our condolences to his family. This is something you don't wish on anybody.
Pitcher Carlos Zambrano said he hoped his fellow Venezuelans would come together.
"I'm very sad. I ask that the Venezuela people stay calm," Zambrano said. "We have to understand that the president had a family. He's a human being and it's sad. We send him the condolences to the Chavez family. We know it's a difficult moment. This caught us by surprise."
Some players did not want to discuss Chavez's death. Pitcher Anibal Sanchez and third baseman Pablo Sandoval both declined when asked to comment.
"There are things we can't control," Zambrano said. "For the respect of Venezuela, they have to do something before the first game against the Dominican Republic (at the WBC in Puerto Rico)."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.