ESPN

Béisbol Experience

The 50-Man Interview

In 2017, Latinos represent over one in four players in MLB and have shaped America's pastime as much as it has shaped them. We asked prospects, starters and future Hall of Famers to share their stories and perspectives. What is it like to learn a new language, crack the game's code of unwritten rules and deal with political turmoil in the United States and back home? Here is their béisbol experience.

Family

The search for love, comfort and identity far from home.

Learning English

What's lost and found in translation.

Food

There's no replacement for home cooking.

Money

The shock of that first monster check -- and the reality check that follows.

Ballpark Culture

Changing MLB's code, one celebration at a time.

Identity

The issues closest to home.

Reporting by Marly Rivera, with Rigo Cervantez, Jerry Crasnick, Hallie Grossman, Tim Kurkjian, Andrew Marchand, Eddie Matz, Enrique Rojas, Adam Rubin, Robert Sanchez, Eli Saslow, Mark Saxon, Elaine Teng and Adry Torres. Translations by Rafael Rojas Cremonesi.

Learning English

What's lost and found in translation.

"I signed to play pro ball and I went to short season in Everett, Washington. I got there and my bat didn't make it. I had a guy there waiting for me, and I didn't know how to communicate, and I was like, 'What am I going to do now? My bat's not here and I can't speak English.' I called my mom, and she spoke with him." René Rivera, Mets, Puerto Rico

"When I came here at 17, I didn't even know how to say 'No. 1.' It was hard to go get something to eat, to understand play instructions. I listened to English all day long without actually understanding it. But there's no language on the field. It's just baseball, and that's something you understand." Óliver Pérez, Nationals, Mexico

"I went down to a gas station to buy a phone card for calling my family. I didn't know how to say 'phone card.' The lady asked me, 'How can I help you?' and I didn't know what to say. It was so hard. I went to the gas station alone because I didn't want anyone laughing at me. I waited until no one was left but myself and the cashier." Jeurys Familia, Mets, Dominican Republic

"One of the things that bothered me most was not being able to express myself when I wanted to say something. I had to live with my internal voice." Adrián Beltré, Rangers, Dominican Republic

"My first year, I played rookie [ball]. I laughed at stuff people said without really knowing what they meant." Elvis Andrus, Rangers, Venezuela

"In my first year, there was a player of Cuban descent who spoke Spanish and English well. I asked him if I could bring him one English word a day and he'd teach me how to use it in a sentence. I was never afraid that people would make fun of me when I said a wrong word." Adrián Beltré, Rangers, Dominican Republic

"I tried to learn a new word every day at the stadium, things like dirt, grass, screen, objects in the dugout, chewing gum. As a catcher, [language] is my main weapon, because if I couldn't communicate with pitchers, I wouldn't be able to do anything." Sandy León, Red Sox, Venezuela

"I always surrounded myself with the American players, and I think that's what helped me. Every time they said a word, I tried to get it in my head and say it and then ask what it meant. I did that word by word. I was never afraid to ask and say a word until I said it right. And even though some of them would make fun of me, they would help me afterwards." Hanley Ramírez, Red Sox, Dominican Republic

"Something that helped me a lot, and that many of my friends have criticized, was that I allotted time to be with Latinos and time to be with Americans. Because I knew that if I spent all my time with only Latinos, I wasn't going to learn." Danny Salazar, Indians, Dominican Republic

"When I came to the United States, I had a different mentality from the other ballplayers. My No. 1 goal was to take advantage of the opportunity to go to the United States and improve the things I could control, like learning the language. Because if you know two languages, it can open other doors for you. If you don't make it to the big leagues, it can help you work as a scout, a coach or open the door to another country." Miguel Montero, Cubs, Venezuela

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Marcell Ozuna: "The most difficult thing was getting used to speaking English"

For the Marlins' Marcell Ozuna, just asking a question was daunting.

For the Marlins' Marcell Ozuna, just asking a question was daunting.

"In Texas they began to teach me English with Rosetta Stone, but that did not work for me. I learn more by listening to people and having people help me. Even though people laughed at me, I didn't care. The trainer in Texas translated for me. One day he said to me, 'Hey, you can do it by yourself,' and then I started." Leonys Martín, Mariners system, Cuba

"Playing rookie ball, 70 percent of the team is Spanish-speaking and 30 percent is American. I felt I was the guy in the middle who had to order pizzas for them at night and be that guy who makes sure that Americans understand the Latin ballplayers and vice versa." Dellin Betances, Yankees, Dominican-American

"I had an American girlfriend [in Montana during rookie ball]. I used to have a roommate and he was Puerto Rican, born in the U.S., and he spoke both languages. I would ask him what to say to her, and he would tell me in English, and I would say it over the phone." Carlos González, Rockies, Venezuela

"I had a Canadian [girlfriend] for four years. When we started dating, I didn't understand her." Nelson Cruz, Mariners, Dominican Republic

"[My wife] knew a little Spanish and I knew a little English [when we met]. As our relationship got more formal, things got difficult for my family and her family. They did not understand each other." Jhonny Peralta, free agent, Dominican Republic

"I like watching Netflix series because many people have told me you can learn the language that way." Julio Urías, Dodgers, Mexico

"I like to see movies in English, and I put the subtitles in English too. At least if I don't understand what they are saying, I can read it and know what it is." Rougned Odor, Rangers, Venezuela

"In my first year in the majors, I had [an interpreter]. After that, I told [the media], 'I want to say what I feel.' They asked me if I felt comfortable, and I said yes. The first time speaking in English after a game, I got a little nervous. After that, I got used to having a lot of cameras around." Félix Hernández, Mariners, Venezuela

"The hardest thing for me is when the media uses big words. I don't understand the questions." Michael Pineda, Yankees, Dominican Republic

"Many times, American journalists didn't interview you since you didn't speak the language." Edwin Encarnación, Indians, Dominican Republic

"[They'll think you're] a dumb person [because you don't speak English]. 'Whatever we say, he can't understand it, so it won't make him feel bad." Marcell Ozuna, Marlins, Dominican Republic

"I remember once we were in the elevator at the All-Star Game and a woman was talking to Vladimir Guerrero in English. She said, 'Hey, you don't speak much English,' and Vlad said to her, 'I speak English with my bat.'" Albert Pujols, Angels, Dominican Republic

"I've been in a lot of meetings where managers have talked about something important and a lot of guys have no clue what is going on. Sometimes I go to them and say, 'Hey, you understand what they are talking about?' 'A little bit.' That little bit means they didn't understand everything. I try to explain it to them." Carlos Beltrán, Astros, Puerto Rico

"Kids now have a lot more opportunities to learn. There are more Latino players. We have interpreters now. Players get a lot of help in the minor leagues. Those are the things you didn't see before." Edwin Encarnación, Indians, Dominican Republic

Food

There's no replacement for home cooking.

"I think the hardest part is getting used to the food and new seasonings." Nelson Cruz, Mariners, Dominican Republic

"It was difficult to get used to the American food, to not being able to find the Latin flavors, especially in these tiny towns where the minor league teams are." Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, Venezuela

"When you're in the Dominican at noon, you always have your rice, beans and beef. When you get here, there's nothing other than hot dogs and sandwiches. That's so tough. When I went back home, my mom didn't even recognize me because I had dropped, like, 15 pounds." Ubaldo Jiménez, Orioles, Dominican Republic

"You long for your typical food, your rice and beans and your chicken, because you grew up having it. I was eating sandwiches one day and sandwiches the next. I just couldn't." Santiago Casilla, Athletics, Dominican Republic

"I lived with several Latinos that did not speak English, so we adapted little by little. We started by ordering food at McDonald's or at Subway after the game. What helped me was pointing at a photo [of food], saying something as if I were murmuring, letting them answer me and saying 'yes.' But I didn't know what they were going to give me. Whatever came, I tried to eat it. I went hungry a lot because I've always hated pickles. A lot of times the food at McDonald's came with a lot of pickles, and when I ordered I'd grab the food, go to the hotel, sit down to eat and open it to find pickles. I'd immediately throw it in the trash." Adrián Beltré, Rangers, Dominican Republic

"I used to go to the same place, Denny's, because they had menus with pictures. I would point at what I wanted to eat. That was my spot. They had breakfast, they had lunch ... whatever you want." Carlos González, Rockies, Venezuela

"When you wanted to eat something, you had to wait for someone who spoke English. I'd sit in my locker until someone came who could go out and eat with me." Hanley Ramírez, Red Sox, Dominican Republic

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Luis Severino: 'I would always wait for the Americans to order first'

Yankees pitcher Luís Severino explains how his mother-and FaceTime-taught him how to cook.

Yankees pitcher Luís Severino explains how his mother -- and FaceTime -- taught him how to cook.

"At McDonald's, I said that I wanted to eat the same thing, without knowing what it was. Afterwards, I learned the words 'I want,' so I could say 'I want the same thing.'" Carlos Santana, Indians, Dominican Republic

"Sometimes we would eat at a buffet, and we preferred it because we just had to get up and serve our own food and didn't have to talk to anyone." Félix Hernández, Mariners, Venezuela

"It's no secret that after eating in restaurants for two weeks straight, food just does not taste the same. But then I simply had to expand my palate. I learned how to eat sushi, all kinds of food to have some variety, and that helped." Aledmys Díaz, Cardinals, Cuba

"Once, I checked into a hotel. Sandwiches here and sandwiches there. My kids were telling me: 'Daddy, I want to eat real food.' One day, we had rice and chicken for them. 'Daddy, this is real food.'" Santiago Casilla, Athletics, Dominican Republic

"During the season my favorite food is Chipotle. It's very easy, and I like the rice, chicken, guacamole, sour cream with a little bit of corn. I think it's the perfect food for me." Gleyber Torres, Yankees prospect, Venezuela

"I didn't go out to restaurants because I didn't know how to ask for food. That's why I started going to Chipotle each day -- being able to order in Spanish." Yoan Moncada, White Sox prospect, Cuba

"On road trips, teams gave us meal money, which was like $20. To help each other, let's say we were six or eight Latinos, we collected our money and we bought groceries collectively. We got chicken and rice. We had an electric skillet for rice, and we had a pan for the meat. It was forbidden to cook inside the hotel, so we had to avoid having the smoke from our cooking get to the smoke detectors. We cooked in there and we saved ourselves a ton of money. If each of us contributed $20, we did a good grocery shopping trip and it lasted for the four to eight days of the road trip." Edwin Encarnación, Indians, Dominican Republic

"Back in Arizona, Dominican players gathered ourselves in groups of four or five. We went for groceries together and one of us cooked, another one did the dishes. We took turns. When I played Single-A, I was with Nelson Cruz, who was playing with Oakland, and he was the cooking guy. He always made a pot of chicken thighs." Santiago Casilla, Athletics, Dominican Republic

"I brought a cookbook with me from the Dominican Republic. I had to get creative. When the season started, most of the guys and I went grocery shopping together, and then I cooked. I was on the phone with my mom: 'What do I have to do?' And she directed me on the phone." Danny Salazar, Indians, Dominican Republic

"Today, when Latinos go to Seattle, I bring food for them so they don't have to go through that [eating wings or McDonald's]. And we expect the same when we go to another ballpark." Nelson Cruz, Mariners, Dominican Republic

Ballpark Culture

Changing MLB's code, one celebration at a time.

"Here, baseball is a big business. In Puerto Rico, baseball is more a place where fans go to the field to cheer, to go crazy; there's loud music." Carlos Beltrán, Astros, Puerto Rico

"The Caribbean baseball fan is louder. They yell what's on their minds. When I pitched there, it shocked me: The ballpark wasn't at full capacity, but they were so noisy, it sounded like the place was full." Jeanmar Gómez, Phillies, Venezuela

"What I miss the most about baseball in Cuba is the passion, that Caribbean passion. People are always cheering and messing with you. You don't see that here." Aroldis Chapman, Yankees, Cuba

"In Venezuela, since the season is so short, they expect you to be in shape from the start, to have four or five hits every day. Here, they give you time. They know that it's a long season. In Venezuela they know that you're in the big leagues, and they expect home runs every day." Elvis Andrus, Rangers, Venezuela

"Here, things are bigger. You have your own locker. In the Dominican, all the lockers are close together." Jeurys Familia, Mets, Dominican Republic

"There are many more perks here in the States, and that helps you to relax when you hit the field. In Venezuela, sometimes you have issues with running water or getting your meal." Yusmeiro Petit, Angels, Venezuela

"In our clubhouses, we play loud music from the moment we get there. We are dancing, playing, always enjoying ourselves. Here, it's a little bit more professional in the sense that there's more concentration." Gerardo Parra, Rockies, Venezuela

"We play music, we play games -- billiards, cards, chess. We are always out there in the clubhouse as Latinos." Manny Machado, Orioles, Dominican-American

"Because I am the one who chooses the music in the clubhouse, I have to put a little bit of everything on and keep everyone happy. Even country music." Hanley Ramírez, Red Sox, Dominican Republic

"[In the clubhouse] an American feels more comfortable with Americans than with Latinos; a Latino feels more comfortable with Latinos." Yadier Molina, Cardinals, Puerto Rico

"I talk to everyone, but most of the people I hang out with are Latin. We stick together." Manny Machado, Orioles, Dominican-American

"For the most part, I hang out with the Americans. But I sit with CarGo [Carlos González] on the plane, and the Latin guys sit next to me. They play Latin music. I know a lot of the Americans don't want to hear it, but I love it." Nolan Arenado, Rockies, American of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent

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Willson Contreras: 'I don't do things to disrespect the game'

Because of MLB's code, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras remembers how he was warned against even simple gestures in the minors.

Because of MLB's unwritten rules, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras remembers being warned against celebrating in the minors.

"In the minors, I was always among the top prospects, and to be honest with you, when you're a top prospect, you're treated differently. I did see [racism] with some of my teammates who weren't so highly ranked. You did notice that. I felt pretty bad about it, since I knew they didn't mess with me just because I was a high-ranked prospect."Edwin Encarnación, Indians, Dominican Republic

"Maybe it's true that if the Latino and the American are doing the same job, they're going to give the job to the American. That's how it was when I was in the minors. Sometimes I'd talk to the boys in the minors and explain that this is a way to force yourself to do better." Adrián Beltré, Rangers, Dominican Republic

"When a Latin player comes up to the major leagues, he has to work twice as hard because he comes from another country. You have to work harder every day because this business belongs to [the Americans]." Marcell Ozuna, Marlins, Dominican Republic

"As a Latino, sometimes you hold back for fear that you can say something not right that can put an end to your career." Sandy León, Red Sox, Venezuela

"Sometimes I would get to the stadium at 7 a.m., and there was a sheet that spelled out where you had to be and where you had to go at a certain time, and that was something I had never done. That's one thing that shocked me a lot when I got here." Aledmys Díaz, Cardinals, Cuba

"For me, the most difficult thing was when you arrive at the clubhouse as a rookie. Here, the culture is different between rookies and veterans, and this was one of the things that struck me. There were times when I did things one way and [the veterans] saw it a different way. One small thing became a big mess. Sometimes I felt a bit offended because I did things one way and they saw it a different way. That will hurt your feelings." Leonys Martín, Mariners system, Cuba

"[When I first got to the majors] I felt isolated. That is why I try my best to help every rookie from having that feeling. I always said to myself that when I have a position of power and I can impose order, I will allow the rookies to feel welcome and make them feel at home." Nelson Cruz, Mariners, Dominican Republic

"We are not understood. We have to adapt. There are things we are not used to doing in our countries. When you keep doing things wrong, people get tired; I even got tired myself. There should not be so many rules. You just have to do your job and let people have fun, which is what I was doing in 2013. They've wanted to change so many things about me that I feel so off. I don't feel like the player I was in 2013." Yasiel Puig, Dodgers, Cuba

"Maybe for guys from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, there's a larger difference because they put more flair into the way they play, and they come to the United States and people don't really like that. You see a lot of issues with guys like [Yoenis] Céspedes or [Yasiel] Puig, when they're celebrating. However, that's the only way they know, and I get it. Everyone comes from different situations, so you have to be open-minded. You've got to understand why they do that kind of stuff. You can't just judge people because of the way they play." Carlos González, Rockies, Venezuela

"It's one thing to celebrate, another to not respect the opponent. I think there are many ways to celebrate and express your emotions without disrespecting the opposite team or baseball or a culture that isn't accustomed to that. Today you see many things you didn't see before thanks to social media. Before, they celebrated the same way and immediately received a message from a veteran telling you not to do it so much and that one has to earn that, to earn enough respect to celebrate without offending anyone. But today it's another baseball. People have to understand we're living in another era. Today there are many young players who want to stand out and to celebrate." Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, Venezuela

"Respect [your opponents] so that they respect you. But passion should not be confused with a lack of respect." Miguel Montero, Cubs, Venezuela

Family

The search for love, comfort and identity far from home.

"When a child is born, the first thing Dad wants is for him to be a baseball player. He buys him his ball and his bat. We live baseball." Nelson Cruz, Mariners, Dominican Republic

"The first gift I received was a baseball bat. Baseball is in the blood of our family." Carlos Beltrán, Astros, Puerto Rico

"We grew up around baseball. That's what my dad did. That's what my brother and my cousin did. There were so many players in the big leagues back then from Puerto Rico. Just watching them, it made me want to be on TV. That way my family could watch me back in Puerto Rico." Francisco Lindor, Indians, Puerto Rico

"My mom took me to the baseball field when I was 4 years old. One day, I started crying and said, 'No, I don't want to play this sport.' A few days later, I saw my mom crying and I said, 'What happened?' 'I want you to play baseball.'" Carlos Carrasco, Indians, Venezuela

"My brother, who was a pitching coach, [taught me how to pitch]. He played in the minors but did not make it to the big leagues. We played every day on the porch of the house. We shattered all my mom's glass windows. We always listened to her scolding us, but we kept on playing." Félix Hernández, Mariners, Venezuela

"My grandfather is huge in Puerto Rico. His name is Ángel Luís 'Güi' Báez. Lots of people come up to me and instead of calling me Javier Báez, they say, 'Hey, are you Güi Báez's grandson?' They don't know me, but they know my grandfather." Javier Báez, Cubs, Puerto Rico

"I defected when I was 16. Here, if you play hard and you do the right thing, you have an opportunity to show your talent. In Cuba, if you play hard and you do the right thing, you're not going anywhere. If the Cuban government doesn't like the way you act or the way you think, it doesn't matter how much talent you have. That's why a lot of us made those tough decisions to defect and leave our friends and families behind. We want to follow a dream. America gives us that dream." Brayan Peña, Royals system, Cuba

"Latin players are used to being around their mom, their dad, their family. Then you come to the States and you're alone. Now you have to grow up, be a man and take care of yourself." René Rivera, Mets, Puerto Rico

"I called my mom every day. I would talk to her about everything -- how it was around here, how we worked. It was really hard. But my mom just said to me, 'Son, you decided to be a baseball player.'" Félix Hernández, Mariners, Venezuela

"I knew that if I would have to go back home, I would return with nothing but a nickel in my hand. I was a poor kid who was fortunate that my mom and my dad raised me the right way. I thought it was perfect that I had the chance to go play in Missoula, Montana." Carlos González, Rockies, Venezuela

"I went almost two years without seeing my family. Sometimes I talked to [them] and they cried. You have to fight twice as hard -- fight to succeed for you, for your family and fight mentally because you miss your family and you want them close. Sometimes it takes you out of the game." Adeiny Hechavarría, Marlins, Cuba

"It's hard when you want to share with [your family] those moments you've dreamt about your whole life." Francisco Lindor, Indians, Puerto Rico

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Sandy León: 'I can't take it anymore, I want to go home'

Why Red Sox catcher Sandy León begged his mother to let him go home to Venezuela.

Why Red Sox catcher Sandy León begged his mother to let him go home to Venezuela.

"We'd go to the gas station to get phone cards to call our family, and we would all call from one cellphone. I had to borrow it because at the time I had no cellphone. I would ask, 'Can you let me call my mom and dad?'" Marcell Ozuna, Marlins, Dominican Republic

"It's tough for me to spend a whole year without being able to look at my loved ones. Two years ago, I had the chance to bring my parents to the States so they could see me play. They were so happy." José Álvarez, Angels, Venezuela

"I remember the first time my mom had the opportunity to come over here. It was in 2006, when I was invited to the Futures Game in Pittsburgh. That was a great experience, since my mom knows I follow Roberto Clemente's life. I had the chance to play for the first time in a big league field at PNC Park. She took a picture at the ballpark next to the Clemente statue, and she has it at home." Carlos González, Rockies, Venezuela

"I called my dad every morning when I got in the car to go to the stadium. When he died [in 2009], I was in spring training. I went to Venezuela for a week. I came back to continue spring training, and when I started up the car, my eyes fogged up and I had to pull over on the side of the road because I couldn't see. I grabbed the phone to call him and said to myself, 'Who am I going to call? He's not there.'" Miguel Montero, Cubs, Venezuela

"I know a lot of guys from Venezuela who missed their families so much they couldn't play well, so they got released." Carlos González, Rockies, Venezuela

"It's tough to have the life of a baseball player. I feel lonely without [my family]. Previously, my oldest son started the school year in the States and ended it in the Dominican. I didn't want to do it that way this year since he would have to separate himself from his teachers and friends. I don't think it's healthy for him. So I better sacrifice myself so they can be normal kids." Carlos Gómez, Rangers, Dominican Republic

"I have my son at a bilingual school so he doesn't have to experience what I've been through. That's one thing I'm quite concerned about. It's why I work so hard." Edwin Encarnación, Indians, Dominican Republic

"[My children] were born here, so in our house we speak in English a lot, but I was a bit scared to put my oldest one, who was born in the Dominican Republic, in school here. But he's the one who speaks English the best." Hanley Ramírez, Red Sox, Dominican Republic

"When the kids are with my wife, they speak in Spanish. When they are with me, especially when we are playing, we sometimes speak in Spanish, sometimes in English, and Spanglish. We have a lot of variety. When we go to Venezuela, my girl speaks only in Spanish because she says, 'Daddy, here they speak Spanish.'" Félix Hernández, Mariners, Venezuela

"I look for the best in American culture and the best in our culture. I like Latino culture because we are very warm. That's what I want my kids to be. I don't want them to leave the house at 18." Miguel Montero, Cubs, Venezuela

Money

The shock of that first monster check -- and the reality check that follows.

"[Starting out] I had no money. None. But it was my own fault. I spent it on a pair of shoes, $60. I thought we had food in the fridge that they were going to give us. But when we arrived, there was no food. So I spent three days hungry, and I remember that I called my mom. She sent me money because I told her we were all hungry. And she started to cry. She told me, 'Come back to Venezuela. You don't need to go through this.' And my dad grabbed the phone from her and told her, 'Let him become a man. You want to be a ballplayer, then stay there. So put on your pants and go play ball, because this is what you wanted to do.' I never called them again." Miguel Montero, Cubs, Venezuela

"I had to adapt to a totally different system [here]. I didn't speak English, I didn't understand the culture. Everything was brand-new for me. I never used a cellphone. I never had a bank account. I never used a bank card. My first time I used my check card, I took $100 out of my checking account and I saw the receipt and I'm like, 'Why are they charging me $2.50 if I only took $100? Why is this machine stealing money from me?' After that, it took me awhile to trust the ATM machines." Brayan Peña, Royals system, Cuba

"We didn't have transportation to hit the gym early, so we had to get a cab. But we couldn't always pay for it, so we would have to go walking or on a bike. Renting an apartment was also hard. You come here and you have no credit history. We were six people living in one apartment because that's what we could afford." Miguel Montero, Cubs, Venezuela

"I had a teammate named Ernesto Manzanillo, and he went with me to open the bank account because every time you took a person, they gave you $25. I didn't know that. He took me, and from then on he'd take each one of us -- 'Let's go open an account.'" Marcell Ozuna, Marlins, Dominican Republic

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Pujols: Money and contracts did not change me

Albert Pujols shared that despite all of the money he's made and the contracts that surrounded him, he remains as humble as ever.

Angels All Star Albert Pujols on how money has -- and hasn't -- changed him.

"The first adjustment is figuring out what to do with your signing bonus. You have to be aware you have that money, and you have to spend it on the right things. For me, the first thing was buying a house for me and my family. I always had that dream to get my own house." Aledmys Díaz, Cardinals, Cuba

"My first investment was buying a new home for my mother." René Rivera, Mets, Puerto Rico

"My first large investment was purchasing a house for my mom." Ubaldo Jiménez, Orioles, Dominican Republic

"If you look at all players, especially Dominicans, when they get to the MLB and they get a good bonus, the first thing they do is secure a house for their moms. We Dominicans believe in this. Mom ate bones; now she has to eat dough." Carlos Santana, Indians, Dominican Republic

"First, we fixed my old man's house, for the whole family. I also bought a car that we all used, a Ford Explorer. My dad was a truck driver, so I also helped him set up a truck business for people to work for him. I got a good bonus, so I also bought some earrings." Félix Hernández, Mariners, Venezuela

"I was in Double-A, and I will never forget. My bonus was $5 million. My first purchase was with my dad. We spent $500 between the two of us at Men's Wearhouse. And my dad came to me and said, 'Hey, slow it down. We have already spent $500.'" Leonys Martín, Mariners system, Cuba

"I learned to play the guitar two years ago. It's something I have liked ever since I was a small kid. But I couldn't learn in the Dominican Republic because we couldn't afford it." Danny Salazar, Indians, Dominican Republic

"I bought a white Camaro when I signed. I've always loved white cars." Rougned Odor, Rangers, Venezuela

"I've always been a little stingy with money. I like to know everything that's going on with it because I am the one that works for it." Hanley Ramírez, Red Sox, Dominican Republic

"I'm never going to say 'I like this car' and buy it. First I look at the price, and then I try to find 10 similar cars to compare and find the cheapest, including in different states. For example, I am in Cleveland, but I bought my truck in Arizona. I have another car that I also bought in Arizona. It wasn't a new car with zero miles. I have a Corvette and I bought it with 2,000 miles. It still smells new, and I bought it for $10,000 less." Danny Salazar, Indians, Dominican Republic

"Buying toys in order to give them away in my hometown, I think that's one of the largest investments I've made -- giving presents to those people who needed them most. The best reward is seeing them smile. To look at a kid smiling, that's an investment for me." Gerardo Parra, Rockies, Venezuela

Identity

The issues closest to home.

"In Venezuela, baseball is a source of joy for the country right now because of all that is happening [politically]. I worry because my whole family is in Venezuela. I can't bring all of them here. [When I'm home] I have a bodyguard. That's the only way I can go out. It really hurts me to see the country in that situation, people who have nothing to eat or who eat only once a day." Félix Hernández, Mariners, Venezuela

"If I can make enough money, I can help all the family out. I have cousins from Cuba who live here now. I have second cousins back in Cuba. I can help pay for college for people in my family." Eric Hosmer, Royals, Cuban-American

"Hopefully in the near future, the Cuban government will realize that a player wanting to come here is not a matter of politics. They have to realize that one has to be able to choose where you want to play and where you want to live. There is a Cuban saying: 'There is no evil that will last a hundred years.' And I hope it does not last much longer." Aledmys Díaz, Cardinals, Cuba

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Baseball is the best future for Venezuelan youth

Red Sox catcher Sandy León describes how Venezuelan prospects as young as 12 want to flee the country.

Red Sox catcher Sandy León describes how Venezuelan prospects as young as 12 want to flee the country.

"You see all this about Latinos and immigration. You are hopeful things improve and the whole issue gets forgotten. We all aspire to have a better life. We all have dreams. That's the reason Latinos came into this country. I hope we don't have those dreams taken away from us." Aroldis Chapman, Yankees, Cuba

"[Immigration] is an important topic that's talked about in the clubhouses, in homes, in the streets. I hope that, like all politicians who never go through with what they say on their campaign, [President Donald Trump] doesn't go through with it [his threats to deport undocumented immigrants]. I feel the fears of a lot of people. That does affect me, not what one person says, but what so many suffer, especially if they are Latinos." Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, Venezuela

"It's hard to stay in a world in which you have to do many things in order to reside legally." Yusmeiro Petit, Angels, Venezuela

"It was very important [to me to become a U.S. resident]. You don't become one just because you want to. Every Latino player becoming a U.S. resident is creating a new job post for another Latino player. That work visa that used to be yours will now be given to another." Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, Venezuela

"I grew up in the Dominican, but I already feel like I live two lives because I have spent as many years in the States as I have lived there. I came to the States when I was 16, and I'm 36 now. I have a life here and a life in the Dominican." Santiago Casilla, Athletics, Dominican Republic

"You feel proud of being able to come from a country where you had nothing and then come here and be able to make your dreams come true." Robinson Canó, Mariners, Dominican Republic

"I always say I am Dominican. I told my parents if I had the chance to play [in the World Baseball Classic], I would play for Dominican Republic. It is something that I owe them." Dellin Betances, Yankees, Dominican-American

"When I play, I'm representing the Dominican because that's where my parents are from. I grew up in the U.S., but I matured as a baseball player in the Dominican. I want to retire there. That is where I want to be. It's home." Alex Reyes, Cardinals, Dominican-American

"People come here and get used to so many things, but their ways, their swag, everything they are, doesn't disappear. You never forget where you came from." Nelson Cruz, Mariners, Dominican Republic

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