The Blue Jays 25-man roster includes 11 Spanish-speaking players: Joel Carreno, Frank Francisco, Carlos Villanueva, Henderson Alvarez, Luis Perez, Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Molina, Ricky Romero, J.P. Arencibia, and until recently, Octavio Dotel, Juan Rivera, and Jo Jo Reyes.
From the 40-man roster, add Adeiny Hechavarria and Moises Sierra to that list.
This August, The Blue Jays also signed 16-year old pitching phenom Roberto Osuna out of Mexico City, among six other prospects (three from Venezuela, three from the Dominican Republic) to add to a long list of acquisitions from Latin America.
What’s the impact of the Spanish language on the ball club?
Romero speaks Spanish at home, mostly English at the ballpark.
As catcher, Arencibia communicates well with the entire pitching staff, using both languages in his toolbox.
Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star suggested last year that a Spanish-speaking manager to replace Cito Gaston makes sense. I’m curious who, other than Coaching Assistant Luis Rivera, speaks Spanish on the Blue Jays coaching staff.
Should it be part of the criteria for employment? It wouldn’t hurt. Would it make any difference on the field? It just might.
But there are two sides to the coin.
I believe it is in the best interests of every Spanish-speaking player that he gives the English language his best shot. It is the first language of Major League Baseball, after all. Perhaps the organization does have enough serviceable translators in Toronto. There are likely dozens, if not hundreds, of Spanish-speaking scouts across Latin America. This presence in countries like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela is one of the organization’s greatest strengths. A comparable fluency of the Spanish language throughout the organization, especially in Toronto, could only bolster our talent at the highest level.
Stuff gets lost in translation all the time. In a game as detail-oriented as baseball, having a truly bi-lingual organization would be another way to find an edge.