When you are on the field, all you think about is playing hard, doing your best and trying to win. That is the main focus. But I know in this game there is more to it. This time of year, the season is almost over, and people are now being voted on for awards.
For me, it is an honor to be a candidate for the Clemente Award and the Aaron Award. Those are two of the biggest names ever to play the game. The Clemente Award is for what you do on and off the field. The Aaron Award is for the top hitter. Both men are legends.
As someone from the Dominican Republic, the name Clemente is very special.
To be considered for his award is one of the best honors of my career and my life. He was a hero on the field and off the field.
Sometimes, it’s hard to explain my feelings because he did so much. Everybody remembers him for what he did in the game as a player. Off the field, he did even more. He is very special because he was so interested in helping people. You mention that name, and for a player like me, there is a lot of motivation to do your part.
Off the field, I do charitable work, much of it with the Florida Marlins Community Foundation.
I do my things and I don’t get a lot of attention for it. But it makes me feel good in my heart. I love kids. Whenever you see somebody wearing your jersey, not just kids, but anybody, it makes you feel good. Those people love this game, and when you come to the ballpark, you want to play the game hard for everybody — your teammates and the fans.
When you’re a little kid, you just want to play baseball. You don’t always think about the players who were great before you. But you always knew about the big names like Clemente. He was an example. I grew up knowing what he did, and knowing that he was very special.