Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Cubs [Print without images]

Monday, August 2, 2010
Soriano says Yankees helped him adjust

By Bruce Levine

Cubs oufielder Alfonso Soriano, who began his professional playing career in Japan, responded to questions about White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s comments that Latino players do not get the same support system that Asians do when they enter the major leagues.

“When I played for the Yankees they had a teacher who taught me English, so now I can speak English by myself,” said Soriano, who began his major league career in New York. “If you feel that [there was no help available], you’re wrong. But if you see it by the way that [Asian players] have a lot of money and bring their own translator and everything…”

Alfonso Soriano
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has experience playing in foreign countries.
When Soriano played for Hiroshima in Japan from 1995-97, he said there was no real support system for him.

“We had one guy, a player, to speak. Not a special translator for us, but another player,” Soriano said.

Soriano was asked if every team should have a trained designated translator for Latin players.

“I think that’s a good thing,” Soriano said. “[You have] an example here with [Starlin Castro]. Ivan DeJesus, a coach, he translates for Castro. So if we have translators, a player can be more comfortable with a guy who understands the language.”

Soriano said there is a real distinction between a 19-year-old Dominican kid trying to get support and a seasoned professional Japanese player coming to the United States for the first time in his late 20s or early 30s with enough of his own money to hire an interpreter.

“The Cubs have a teacher in the Dominican helping,” Soriano said. “They have to learn English in the process before they come to the major leagues.”

Asked about Guillen’s comments and how many Latino players would agree with the Sox manager, Soriano said opinions would be split.

“Like I say, 50-50,” Soriano said. “If you see it the way he saw it, people told me he had a son [playing] in the minor leagues and the son had to be an interpreter. If you see it that way, he’s right. But when the Japanese player comes [to the United States] he wants to feel 100% comfortable [with his own interpreter].”