Results tagged ‘ Colorado Rockies ’
TribeVibe recently spoke with Orioles reliever Pedro Strop, who was roommates with Indians pitcher Esmil Rogers at the Rockies Dominican Academy. Check out the original story here: http://tribevibe.mlblogs.com/2012/07/17/esmil-rogers-a-punch-in-the-face/
TribeVibe: What happened in your room the day that Esmil told you he was quitting baseball?
Pedro Strop: He was kind of struggling a little bit when he was first traded. He started packing his stuff, and I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m going home.” I was like, “You’re going home? You’re not going anywhere.” He packed all his stuff, and he was just going to walk away. I stood up in front of the door. We were standing there fighting and punching. I said, “You’re not going out.” He started crying, and I chewed him out. I talked to one of the coaches the next day, and then we talked to him. After that, everything was better.
TV: What did Esmil want to do in New York?
PS: He had family there, and usually, a lot of players that cannot play anymore go to New York; that’s what they do. They just find a job there and work just a regular job. That was what he was planning by that time.
TV: Why did you choose to name your son Rogers?
PS: I just liked the name. His name is Rogers, but everybody calls him “Roger.” It just looks like it.
TV: Is there a reason why you chose Esmil to be your son’s godfather?
PS: He is a great person, and we are really good friends. I get along with his family; we are close. I chose him as godfather because we are good friends.
TV: What is Esmil’s best quality?
PS: He is always happy. Always. You’re never going to see this guy mad. He’s always happy.
TV: How often do you keep in touch with Esmil?
PS: The whole year.
TV: How would you analyze Esmil as a pitcher today?
PS: He’s a pretty good pitcher, and I think he has good stuff to start. He looks more like a starting pitcher. I think he can be a good reliever, too, but I see him as a starter. Hopefully he’ll get an opportunity to start at some point in his career.
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor
Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez carries a 5.24 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 19 games started with the Tribe this season. Jimenez recently caught up with TribeVibe and discussed his life in the Dominican Republic and his transition to the United States as a Major League Baseball player. Be sure to check back on TribeVibe tomorrow for Part 2 of Jimenez’s interview.
TribeVibe: How have your parents influenced you in your life?
Ubaldo Jimenez: When I started playing baseball — when I was really young — my dad was the one who taught me how to play catch, how to hit. [I was] five. He really worked hard trying to teach me how to hit because, I know, I was really bad at it. He was the one who taught me how to do everything. He was the one who got me into baseball.
TV: How many siblings do you have?
UJ: Just a sister. [She is] older. I’m the baby in the house. She is one year older than me. We were close. She is the only sister that I have. We fought every single day; we didn’t get along too well, but we are close.
TV: Did your family have a lot of money in the Dominican Republic?
UJ: No, I come from a really poor family. The thing is, my mom and my dad worked really hard every day so that we could get the food on the table every day. We never hungered or anything like that; we always had something to eat. The other thing is, they worked really hard to give us a good education. They put us in English class, French class, anything you can think of. They did it for us. They didn’t want us to be just another person. They didn’t want us to be like them; they didn’t have a chance to study because they were really poor. They worked really hard on that.
TV: How old were you when you started taking English class?
UJ: Probably eight.
TV: What was your dad’s job?
UJ: My dad, at first, was in the Dominican Army for 14 years. Then, he was a bus driver for the insurance company. My mom was a nurse.
TV: Did you attend high school?
UJ: Yes, the reason that I signed with the Rockies was because before I signed, they told my mom that they were going to allow me to finish high school. I was 17, and I only had two more months of high school to go. I did a tryout for the Mets, and they wanted to sign me when I was 16. My parents didn’t want me [to sign] because they wanted me to finish high school. I did a tryout with the Braves. The Rockies were the ones because their scout, Rolando Fernandez, was like, ‘Okay, are we going to sign him? Are we going to let him come back to his house and finish high school?’
TV: Did you spend a lot of time at the Rockies Academy?
UJ: Yes, when I signed, I was 17. I played in the Dominican for a year and a half. That’s in the Dominican Summer League. The next year, they sent me over [to the United States].
TV: What do they teach you at the academies?
UJ: They not only try to teach you about the baseball terms, they try to teach you things you can use on the street. [They teach you] how to talk to people if you meet someone, how to behave — especially with girls. American girls are really friendly, and that’s something that you have to learn as a Latin player. It’s a different culture. That’s something that they teach you. If you get to meet a girl for the first time, and they’re really friendly, it doesn’t mean that they want to be with you. That’s the way they are; they’re friendly. That’s something that you have to learn as a Latin player.
TV: Was there someone along the road who helped you the most with your English?
UJ: Yes, we had an American English teacher [at the academy], Lori Brown, who was teaching you not only about baseball but about English. She was involved in everything — getting you a host family, a place to stay, trying to go to stores with you so that you can buy the things you want for sure. She really helped me a lot.
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor
Sometimes it just takes a punch in the face for one to realize their true potential on the baseball field and in life. For Indians pitcher Esmil Rogers, it took two.
Rogers, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, signed with the Colorado Rockies Dominican Academy in 2003 and played in the Dominican Summer League. In three years as shortstop, Rogers hit .208 in 494 at-bats.
The DSL pitching coach recognized Rogers’ arm strength as an infielder and decided to convert him into a pitcher, fully aware of his potential on the mound.
“I tell [people] they made me a pitcher because I hit too much,” Rogers said. “They say, ‘They made you a pitcher, and you hit too much?’ I say, ‘Yes. I hit .300 in three years — .100, .100, and .100.’”
Rogers made the transition from infielder to pitcher with current Orioles reliever Pedro Strop, his former roommate at the Rockies Academy. While Strop flourished on the mound, Rogers struggled to keep men off base.
In 2006, both Rogers and Strop were promoted to the Casper Rockies (recently named the Grand Junction Rockies). Rogers went 2-6 in 15 starts (63.1 IP) with a 6.96 ERA, while Strop sported a 1-0 record in 11 appearances with a 2.08 ERA.
Rogers, 26, said his performance that year led him to doubt his talent.
“I pitched [in rookie league], but I didn’t pitch good like what I know I can do,” he said. “One day I was picking up all my stuff, and I said I wanted to quit baseball. I didn’t want to play anymore. I [wanted] to go to New York.”
Strop, who had experienced similar poverty growing up in the Dominican Republic, had other ideas for his friend.
“[Strop] hit me two times in the face, in my eyes,” Rogers said. “I started to cry, saying, ‘I don’t want to play baseball anymore.’ He told me, ‘You can throw 95 mph, and you want to go home?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He hit me again and said, ‘You’re not going anywhere. You have to pass through me.’”
Strop stood in the doorway, preventing Rogers from leaving his room at the academy. Rogers made several phone calls to his family members, including his brother, Eddie Rogers, 33, who was a shortstop for the Orioles at the time.
Eddie immediately questioned his brother’s desire to find a job in New York City.
“My brother said, ‘What are you going to do? You’ve never worked. The only thing you can do is play baseball,’” Rogers said.
Heeding the advice of his brother and closest friend, Rogers spent that offseason working with the pitching coach at the Rockies Dominican Academy. After receiving an invite to Spring Training, Rogers allowed just one earned run in 34 innings in spring ball.
“Me and my roommate went to the complex together, and we got a call from the Rockies GM,” Rogers said. “We got on the 40-man together, we became pitchers together, [I] got my debut in 2009, and he got his in 2009, too.”
Strop and Rogers made their Major League debuts just 15 days apart. Strop did not allow a run in 1.0 inning on August 28, 2009 at Minnesota. Rogers allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in 4.0 innings at San Diego on September 12, 2009.
In 38 appearances for the Orioles this season, Strop is 4-2 with a 1.59 ERA, while Rogers carries a 0.69 WHIP and a 2.25 ERA in 13 games with Cleveland.
The highs and lows of Minor League Baseball and of life have ultimately drawn the former roommates closer together. Strop, who had been there for Rogers at the crossroads of his life, named his two-year-old son “Rogers Strop” and asked Rogers to be his son’s godfather.
“We were roommates and really good friends because we played together,” Rogers said. “We are like brothers right now. Everything we do is together.”
While the lights and glamour of New York City once appeared to be his destination, Rogers is thankful for his “brothers’” guidance as he pitches under the lights for the Cleveland Indians.
“I think the only reason I wanted to go to New York is because I didn’t want to go back to the Dominican,” Rogers said. “There’s nothing to do where I’m from, anyway. The only thing everyone does over there is play baseball; that’s the tradition for my city, my country.”
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor