“Well, I think there’s going to be a designated interpreter for each club, and I don’t think it’s going to be a coach,” MLB executive Joe Torre said Thursday before managing the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic.
“Hopefully, it’s going to work well,” he said. “Obviously, until we see it happen, we’re not going to know for sure. But I think in Major League Baseball we’re making an effort to try to make the game better and move along better. With so many international players, to me it made sense.”
Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda is from the Dominican Republic and has focused on perfecting English since becoming a pro. He gladly does interviews in his second language.
“Most teams, they don’t have interpreters for Latin guys,” he said. “It’s very hard for Latin players if they don’t learn English. I tell that to the young players. You’ve got to learn.”
Former A’s pitcher Ariel Prieto works full time for Oakland as an interpreter for Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes and former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon. But that’s not a common practice among teams.
“You as a club choose whether or not to have an interpreter on staff. You can have two, one for Asian players and one for Latin players and have them on your bench. They would have to be employed for that position,” Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “We don’t have the necessity because we have so many bilingual players, but if we didn’t, we would get an interpreter because you need to be able to communicate properly.”
Many teams provide English classes for their minor leaguers, and players from other countries are encouraged by club management and teammates to learn the language.
“I tell our young pitchers that the more they know English, the more it will help them on the field and off the field,” Rivera said.
“You have to know exactly what they’re telling you, how they want you to pitch and what they want you to throw. If you are not 100 percent sure, that’s no good. It has to be 100 percent,” he said.
On the Yankees, second baseman Robinson Cano frequently is the go-between for Spanish-speaking pitchers during mound summits _ a luxury not enjoyed by most teams. .
“Yes, I think someone should be able to translate for them. If it’s a coach or teammate, it’s someone on the same team,” Kuroda said through Yankees interpreter Jiwon Bang.
Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, currently managing the Dominican team in the WBC, liked the idea.
“Most of the time we want that communication during the game, and I think it’s great because some of those kids sometimes, sometimes they feel lost. And we want to be on the same page as much as possible,” he said.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said he’s never had trouble getting his message across. Yet Philadelphia catcher Erik Kratz is ready to help any Hispanic pitchers, if necessary.
In the minors, Kratz made an effort to learn Spanish “in a conversational way, and in the baseball sense,” he said. He might need it _ catcher Carlos Ruiz is suspended 25 games to start the season.