For Christian Lara, the last 48 hours have been very strange indeed.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the 22-year-old shortstop had been traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Eric Hull. As a result, Lara was transferred from one California League team to another. He had been playing for the Lancaster JetHawks, but the trade immediately made him a member of the Inland Empire 66ers.
Conveniently enough, the JetHawks and the 66ers are in the midst of a three-game series. Lara arrived in Inland Empire as a visitor, but he's now a member of the hometown team.
"It's been a little bit crazy," said Lara. "Two days ago I was in the other dugout."
Lara suited up for the visiting JetHawks on Monday evening, but did not appear in the ballgame. Due to a California League rule that states that a new inning can not be started past 11:50 p.m., the contest was suspended after 15 frames with the score knotted at 3-3. After this marathon of inconclusive baseball, Lara was called into the office of JetHawks' manager Chad Epperson.
"My first thought was, 'Oh, my God! What happened?'" recalled Lara, who was signed by the Red Sox organization in 2002. "'Is it something good? Or something bad? [Epperson] was like, 'You've been traded to the other team.'"
"He and I are very good friends, so at first I thought he was joking around. But I soon realized, 'Now I have to go play for Inland Empire.'"
This bizarre confluence of events resulted in an especially surreal moment on Tuesday, when Lara sat in Inland Empire's dugout for the conclusion of Monday's suspended contest (the JetHawks won the game, 6-3, in 18 innings). In the evening's regularly scheduled game, Lara got the chance to take the field against his teammates of a day before. He went 0-for-1 with two walks in a 3-1 Inland Empire victory.
"There was a lot of joking around," said Lara. "After the game, I started to go back to the Lancaster clubhouse, and the 66ers guys were like, 'You've got to stay here, you're with us now.' I said, 'No, I need the rest of my stuff!'"
Despite the challenges he's faced over the past two days, Lara is optimistic about his future.
"I have a lot of great new teammates, and some of the Venezuelan guys on the team I've known for a long time," he said. "I have good friends here, so I know I'll be comfortable."
"It's great that the Dodgers made this trade. That means that they know me and what kind of player I am. All I want is to be given the opportunity to make it to the Major Leagues."