Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Support for Latin players important to Sox
By Bruce Levine
CHICAGO -- Although the White Sox don't appear to have communication issues in the clubhouse, they still could try to improve support for their Latin American players in 2014. A number of essential Sox players, including Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Jose Quintana, speak some English but rely on team translator Lino Diaz, a batting practice instructor, to have a conversation with English-speaking teammates off the field.
While pitching coach Don Cooper and bench coach Mark Parent also are fluent in Spanish, the main advantage of adding a Latin coach would be the ability to provide moral support for a player after a tough game or a slump, making it easier for players who speak predominantly Spanish to sit down for an extended conversation or to hash out the subtleties of the game.
"We do have coaches who speak Spanish," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I probably have to get better at it. My Spanish is a little off at times. But it is an open door, come in and talk about anything, for all of our players. We could add a guy who could do that -- speak Spanish. Lino does a great job of getting our exact message out to the Latin guys. There are not always that many (coaching) spots that you are able to do it and find the right guy."
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Monday he will address the status of players and coaching staff after the disappointing 2013 season comes to an end on Sept. 30.
No one was concerned with any language barrier when the White Sox led the AL Central for 117 days in 2012. But losing bullpen coach Juan Nieves to Boston, where he became pitching coach this season, may have cost them a little from a communications aspect.
Paul Konerko believes the support system for Latin teammates is there.
"Baseball is such a universal language that if a guy makes a mistake or is out of position we can communicate," said Konerko, who has been the team captain since 2004. "From time to time all of us players need to be talked to. It really is a case-to-case situation on what is going on. You would be surprised how many guys speak Spanish on the team and coaching staff. Lino works hard even during games to keep the communication lines open. This is not all milk-and-cookie stuff, it is definitely telling someone to get in gear. The way I look at this subject is we have bigger fish to fry."