FORT MYERS, Fla.- According to MLB.com, 26 percentof players on 2015 MLB Opening Day rosters were born outside the United States.
The Minnesota Twins are one of several organizations helping those players adapt, by offering free English classes to Spanish-speaking players.
At the Twins Academy in Fort Myers, Twins English teacher Grace Carver teaches her students using something familiar — a pocket schedule from the Fort Myers Miracle, a minor league baseball team.
“If they’re going to stay in this country, they need to learn to communicate and know what’s going on around them,” said Carver.
In April, 20-year-old Johan Quezada left his family in the Dominican Republic to chase his dream of playing Major League Baseball.
“Sometimes I miss my family,” said Quezada, a pitcher for the Twins GCL team. “Sometimes I want to be with them. But this is my job, I need to be here.”
Quezada says learning English helps him adapt to life in a new country.
“It helped me, because if I feel like, sad, I can talk whenever I want,” said Quezada.
Carver agrees that the program helps players cope mentally.
“Sometimes they need something they can’t express in English and they’re learning how to do that in this program,” said Carver.
“When I go to Publix, I need to speak English!” said Quezada.
Learning English helps players become better baseball players by allowing them to communicate with their coaches and teammates. But it’s also a skill they can take with them long after their baseball careers are over.
“After my career is done, maybe I’ll live in the United States,” said Quezada. “It’s good, the English.”