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Pablo López plays pickleball and loves animals for charity.

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By Jacob Jackson

Miami — Just over a month after showcasing his dominance on the postseason mound, Twins right-hander Pablo López demonstrated his pickleball skills for a charitable purpose.

On November 16th, Pablo López, a right-handed pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, hosted a charity event called “Pickleball for Pets” at the Miami Shores Tennis Club. The event combined two of his interests, pets and pickleball, and the proceeds went to the local organization Paws4You Rescue.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Pablo López, a right-handed pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, discovered pickleball and has been playing it once or twice a week ever since. He humorously refers to his baseball offseason as his pickleball season. López and his wife, Kaylee, welcomed their dog, Bennie, into their family during the 2019 offseason. López, who had never owned a pet before, fell in love with Bennie at first sight. Over the past two years, Kaylee has been contributing to Paws4You Rescue by donating dog toys and supplies. The organization brought three of its 90 dogs to the event, hoping to find them a permanent home.

Pablo López plays pickleball
Christina De Nicola

López expressed, “As an athlete, I enjoy all kinds of sports. Tennis has been one of them, but it’s too risky to play tennis. It’s a lot on the body. So pickleball is a tiny version of tennis, less stress on the body, but you can still have the same amount of fun. And that was one of my passions. We all have things that we like and enjoy, apart from the sports we play”.

“Kaylee and I have been passionate about animals ever since we got our dog four years ago. We love and care for all kinds of pets, including cats. We thought it would be a great idea to fuse our passions and create something fun and cool. We partnered with an amazing organization that takes great care of animals, and they were kind enough to bring a couple of dogs here in hopes of finding them their forever home. We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to pursue our passion and create something positive for the community.”

Despite no longer playing for the Marlins, López still resides in South Florida during the offseason and feels a sense of responsibility to give back to the community. López is optimistic that the event will grow in size next year and may even have some iteration in the Twin Cities.

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Despite the drizzle, López played singles and doubles matches for over three hours, taking turns with participants on different courts. The event offered attendees the rare opportunity to play against a professional athlete and enjoy food and beverages. The philanthropy couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, as Thursday marked Give Miami Day, one of the nation’s biggest 24-hour annual giving events. Residents can donate to local organizations or causes through an online campaign.

López expressed his gratitude for having access to an amazing platform and resources, which is a common sentiment among many MLB players. He believes that it’s important to take advantage of this opportunity to pursue one’s passion and create something positive for the community. López played for the Marlins for five years and calls South Florida his offseason home. He feels that the community has given him so much, and giving back feels like the right thing to do.

Pablo López plays pickleball and loves animals
Lucas Casel

López was congratulated by attendees for his stellar performance in 2023. He was able to reflect on his achievements during his first season with Minnesota over time. Interestingly, he attributes his humility, honesty, and mindfulness to his dog, Bennie. Bennie often accompanied López to Bark at the Park games in Miami or Spring Training exhibitions.

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In 2023, López had an unforgettable year. He was disappointed when the season ended, as he had hoped that his team would progress further. The team had a good momentum after breaking the postseason drought, and López believed that they would go further. However, that was not the case. For the first 7-10 days, he felt nostalgic about it, but now that it’s been a while, he looks back at the year with fondness for all kinds of reasons.

López expressed his gratitude for being a part of the Twins community and territory, and reflected on the ups and downs of the season. Despite the challenges, he remained resilient and focused on his process, which eventually led to positive results. He is proud of his achievements in 2023 and is motivated to make the next year even better.

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