Clevelan Santeliz is a 24 year old righthander in his first year in the Red Sox system.  Originally signed by the White Sox in 2004 as an international free agent, the Venezuelan with the ever-present smile is 2-3 with an ERA of 4.32 this season.  Fresh off the disabled list, Santeliz is happy to be back and contributing.  “It’s a big thing for me to come off the disabled list, especially with our team playing so good.  I want to come in and throw strikes and help my team.”  Santeliz says that being on the DL hurts when you’re trying to get in a groove.  “Consistency.  With everything, especially exercise.  I am working hard, doing extra stuff.  It’s really hard for me, because this is my first year with the organization.  I want to be healthy all year,  but my oblique was weak and I have to make it stronger.”  Being part of the organization is important to him.  “You know me.  I always try to be happy.  I always try to be the best teammate.  I always pull for my guys.  Now I am back on the team and I can help.”

     Santeliz admits to self-imposed pressure.  The desire to get back quickly after an injury and prove his worth to the Red Sox.  He says that it’s hard not to do that.  “You don’t want to do that, but there is always pressure to produce.  Especially for me.  This is my first year.  I’ve got to show the Red Sox what I can do, but I try to be relaxed and I try to be calm.  I try to do everything right and not put more pressure on myself.  In baseball, you don’t have to put pressure.  There is already so much pressure on the field.”

     Very often, one of the forgotten aspects of the game is what it must be like for a foreign player to come to the U.S. and try to succeed.  Imagine yourself in a foreign country, not knowing the language and trying to get by.  Santeliz had no problem coming up with an answer when asked about his biggest challenge.  “I think the hardest part is the language.  This is my sixth year.  I try to learn English every day.  Also the lifestyle is different.  It’s really good here.  it’s better here, as far as security and respect.  The hardest thing though is English.  I try to undestand everybody.  That’s the hardest thing for all the Latin players.”  Santeliz was very frank when he was asked why some foreign players opt not to learn English.  “They’re lazy.  They think that the work they do on the field is enough.  You have to learn to speak English.  This is professional baseball.  You have to be professional on and off the field.  You have to talk with the media, you have to talk with the fans, you have to talk with your coaches.  It’s important to learn English.  It’s better for you.”

   Whether it is spoken or not, Latin players tend to stick together.  If you are a South American like Santeliz, Cuban like Jose Iglesias or Dominican like Hector Luna, they share a language and certain cultural customs and habits.  Santeliz tends not to see color or race.  “Like I said, we should be professional in every way.  We share a language.  We all support each other.  We don’t care where you’re from.  Even with the American guys, we don’t care if you’re white or black.  This team is really good and everybody supports everybody.  The Latin guys, the American guys.  That’s why we play well and are such a good team.  We don’t care about color or language.  We try to have fun and win games.”


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