With approximately 1 in every 4 Major League Baseball players coming from Latin America, there’s a need for Spanish-language staff members. In October 2015 – when Cuban-born Fredi Gonzalez was the only minority manager among the 30 teams – MLB acknowledged the need for diversity within the organization.
And though the MLB still has progress to make, they have kicked off 2016 attempting to make it easier for Spanish speaking players. As of the 2016 season, all 30 teams will be required to have Spanish-language interpreters, according to ESPN. NPR reports that Carlos Beltrán, a 38-year-old outfielder from Puerto Rico who plays for the New York Yankees, has been working to make it happen.
“I’ve paid attention to this issue for a long time, and I remember asking [Yankees general manager] Brian Cashman about the Japanese translators last spring training and telling him how great it would be for Latinos to have the same thing and have somebody there to help the younger guys express themselves after games,” he said. “I took it to [MLBPA executive director] Tony Clark and addressed the situation with them. They basically felt it was something that was positive for Latino players and younger guys in the MLB right now, and we started working toward this goal.”
This initiative will not only help players professionally, it will also improve their personal lives. When people were harshly criticizing Yasiel Puig for being late, speeding, and other unprofessional behavior, sports writer Dan LeBatard defended him, saying that the MLB doesn’t make it easy for players to transition. He cited examples like Euclides Rojas accidentally buying his son dog food because there was a picture of a smiling boy on the can, Ariel Prieto carrying $1.2 million in his jeans because he didn’t know about banks or credit cards, and Tony Perez ordering apple pie a-la mode for a month straight because he didn’t recognize anything else on the menu, as proof that sometimes these players are left to fend for themselves.