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Updated: August 3, 2010, 1:56 PM ET

Hear the words, because Ozzie is making sense

Kruk By John Kruk
ESPN
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Ozzie Guillen ruffled some feathers Sunday when he complained about the unfair treatment of Latin American players versus Japanese players -- but I couldn't agree with his observation more. I have always felt like the treatment of Latino players is an ongoing problem.

I remember how awkward it was for me the first year I played winter ball in Mexico. Someone who couldn't speak a word of English picked me up from the airport. He dropped me off at the hotel, and someone knocked on my door the next afternoon and said, "Practice." So I went to practice without knowing a soul on the team. I didn't know how to order food or anything. Fortunately, I knew how to say "taco" so I ate nothing but tacos for a while until a couple of the Mexican-born players finally helped me learn the language.

[+] EnlargeOzzie Guillen
Kyle Terada/US PresswireOzzie Guillen was able to adjust more easily to the U.S. and the majors because he was outgoing. It's not that easy for everyone.

Guillen and I came up together in the minor leagues, and I witnessed firsthand how Latin American players were treated. They weren't necessarily mistreated; they just weren't treated at all. No one helped them adapt. Whenever we broke camp, everyone would break off into segregated groups. The Latin players roomed together and ate together. There was no mingling among different groups.

However, Guillen was different. He wasn't afraid to be in America and he tried to learn English as quickly as he could. He asked so many questions that I don't know how many times I had to tell him to shut up. He had an advantage because he was outgoing, personable and loved to talk. Imagine being 18 years old, and someone throws you in a foreign country and says, "Here, go make a living." It can be very intimidating, to say the least.

The biggest difference between Asian and Latino players is money. Most of the time, when a Korean or Japanese player comes to America, he already has established himself as a star player and goes straight to the big leagues. In most cases, teams feel more inclined to get the "star" player accustomed to the U.S. because he's going to help the team immediately.

A lot of Latino major league-caliber players never make it to the major leagues because they have trouble learning English. Unfortunately, it's more common for teams to look down on a player who is reluctant to learn English. Not to mention Latino players usually make a fraction of what their Japanese counterparts are bringing in.

I wouldn't call Guillen's comments a rant; I think he was just airing out his beliefs. It's time someone stood up for the Latino players.

The unfair treatment of Latino players is not a league issue; it is an individual team problem. If I were running a team, I would consider the number of Latin American players who have dominated the sport and would do everything in my power to make sure they were as comfortable as possible. The payoff for taking the time to help your players adapt is priceless.

If Latino players were eligible for the amateur draft, the league would be very different. Do you think Ubaldo Jimenez was treated as well as Stephen Strasburg when he first signed? Think about it: If Jimenez pitched in college in the United States like Strasburg and scouts saw his changeup at 91 mph, he would have gotten carte blanche. And people have the audacity to say there's no difference in how players are treated? They couldn't be more wrong.

John Kruk is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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