Tuesday, May 15, 2012

American baseball players learning Spanish to communicate with Dominican teammates

It is pretty well known that most MLB teams have expanded their cultural immersion and English classes for Dominican and Latin baseball players, both in the Dominican baseball academies and stateside.  Major League Baseball and the Dominican Republic just signed a deal to further enhance the education of Dominican prospects.  The Astros have a program to teach Latin players English and the Brewers have a cultural immersion program for Latin and Dominican players.

Programs such as these are becoming the norm.  The Dominican Baseball Guy would estimate that at least three-quarters of all MLB teams now have similar programs.

One Cincinnati Reds player is trying to reach out to his Latin and Dominican teammates in the opposite direction.  Joey Votto is learning Spanish and communicating with his Latin teammates in their native language.  Votto thinks this builds camaraderie and brings him closer to his Spanish-speaking teammates.  Before he learned the Spanish basics, Votto did not have much a relationship with some Latin teammates.

The Reds have taken an additional step and offered free language software to anyone in their system.  The Padres have a similar offering for their players and coaches that want to learn Spanish.

"It's nice that they want to learn and understand what we're saying," Votto's Venezuelan teammate Miguel Cairo said. "It creates a better atmosphere and better clubhouse when they know what we're saying."

Off-field chemistry almost always helps with the on-field product, and communicating in Latin players native language shows an effort to build chemistry both on and off the field.
2010 National League MVP Joey Votto is learning Spanish, photo by Geoff Livingston on Flickr

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