Will the Red Sox Visit the White House? American League MVP Mookie Betts to Skip Presidential Visit

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with the World Series trophy after his team's 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Mookie Betts will not join the Boston Red Sox when they visit the White House next month.

The reigning American League MVP revealed he has opted not to attend the traditional presidential visit, although he did not expand on the motive behind his decision. "I won't be going there," Betts said during the New York Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner on Saturday, as reported by The Boston Globe. "I decided not to."

Betts's decision to skip the visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue comes a week after Red Sox manager Alex Cora admitted he was yet to decide whether he would attend.

The 2018 World League winners are scheduled to visit the White House on February 15, but Cora suggested he might not join his players and the rest of his staff because of President Donald Trump's policies toward Puerto Rico.

"We'll see what happens," Cora, who was born in Puerto Rico, was quoted as saying by CBS on January 17. "There's a lot of stuff going on right now as far as the government and the shutdown and all that. If I go, I'll represent Puerto Rico the right way."

In September last year, Cora criticized Trump after the president suggested that the official figures from Hurricane Maria had been doctored.

The hurricane hit the island in 2017, leaving behind a trail of destruction and 3,000 victims, but Trump claimed the figures had been deliberately tampered with by the Democrats to smear him.

Betts, who received the American League MVP award at the event on Saturday night, becomes the second Red Sox player to announce he will not attend the visit, after Rafael Devers. Last week, the third baseman said he had turned down the option to visit the White House, but he indicated it wasn't a political decision.

"The opportunity was presented, and I just wasn't compelled to go," he was quoted as saying by a New Hampshire-based newspaper, The Eagle-Tribune.

The Red Sox have said they are leaving the decision up to each member of the team, but The Boston Globe also reported that Eduardo Nunez and Xander Bogaerts are among those who might not attend.

Visits to the White House have become a highly publicized political issue since Trump was elected in 2016. In May last year, the president called off the Philadelphia Eagles' planned visit after reports suggested a number of players and members of staff would boycott the event.

The gesture led to Stephen Curry and LeBron James saying that neither the Golden State Warriors nor the Cleveland Cavaliers would visit the White House if invited after the NBA Finals.

Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals are yet to receive a formal invite despite winning the Stanley Cup seven months ago. Should the team be invited, Devante Smith and Brett Connolly have already stated that they would not attend.

Trump did however invite the Clemson Tigers to the White House after the team won the College Football Playoff and became only the second team in history to go 15-0.

The Tigers attended the event and were treated to pizza and fast food from McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King, as Trump had promised.