June 10, 2012

On Baseball: Playing just part of challenge

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Reynaldo Rodriguez misses the food he ate growing up in Colombia, but has been able to adapt while playing baseball in the United States – his mother taught him how to cook.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Heiker Meneses

Additional Photos Below

Linares does communicate in English – with his coaches. After a session in the batting practice cage, hitting coach Dave Joppie pulled Linares aside for a conversation, animated by Joppie demonstrating a batting stance and swing.

"They understand when we're talking hitting," Joppie said. "Baseball is a universal language."

And the language of Red Sox baseball is taught early at the team's Dominican academy.

"Our staff down there runs drills and uses the same terminology as our domestic staff, and the same as the players will experience in spring training," said Duncan Webb, the Red Sox player development programs coordinator.

"This requires that the players have a working knowledge of baseball terms in English, so we have them attend class five days a week in the afternoon, following their day on the field."

The English classes continue when the players come to the U.S., as well as orientations about American life.

"A big part of my job is making sure they understand the differences – good and bad – of living in the United States as compared to their home countries," Webb said.

And one of those adjustments is the food. In past years, the Latin American players flocked to the nearby La Bodega restaurant, which featured Dominican cuisine. But it is temporarily closed.

"We go to Chipotle," Tejeda said. "It's good, but not the same."

Rodriguez remembers those runs to La Bodega, but he has a backup plan.

"My mother taught me to cook," he said.

Rodriguez, 26, arrived in the U.S. in the Yankees' organization, where he played from 2004-07.

"When I came here, it was hard," he said. "You can't speak English so you can't talk to anybody."

But Rodriguez's English is fine now, as is his batting, with a team-leading 11 home runs.

In the offseason, Rodriguez will head back to Colombia, where he will play in the winter leagues. Others will do the same in their own countries (Linares now resides in Mexico).

Then they will return in February to spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. They will miss the home cooking, while they improve their English.

And they will play a little baseball.

"The goal is not only to come to the U.S.," Meneses said. "But to play in the big leagues."

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:


Twitter: ClearTheBases


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Additional Photos

2012 Boston Red Sox Official Headshot
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Juan Carlos Linares


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