Touching Base with Brewers Translator Carlos Brizuela
He’s been in the big leagues for about two weeks now, but Orlando Arcia remains the center of attention when the Brewers take the field most days. Arcia has been the top prospect in the organization for some time, and when he finally reached Milwaukee there were dozens of reporters waiting to interview him. There’s only one problem: Arcia’s native language is Spanish and while he understands some English, he’s not always comfortable speaking it.
Enter Carlos Brizuela, currently in his first season as a Media Relations Assistant with the Brewers. Brizuela was hired over the offseason in response to an MLB mandate that every team make full-time Spanish translators available to its players. If you’ve seen Arcia (or teammate Junior Guerra) interviewed this season, odds are you’ve seen Brizuela translating for them.
Last week we spent a few minutes with Brizuela to talk about life on the job and his various roles within the organization.
How'd this come about?
I'd worked in baseball before, I worked two years with the Angels. I heard about this position around the winter meetings, Major League Baseball was talking about implementing this position. I actually had a couple of different teams contact me. They got my information from MLB and contacted me about interest in me and the position. I was able to interview with a couple of different teams and it came down to two teams. I ended up picking Milwaukee, it was the best fit for me.
How's it gone so far?
Good. It's been a good experience. It's nice to be back in baseball and around the big league club, which is a totally different animal from the minor league side where I used to be. It's been a lot of fun. The guys have taken me in very good, everyone's very nice. We have a great group of guys, great coaching staff and even the front office has been very good. It's been a lot of fun.
What's a typical day like for you?
I do a little bit of everything. Besides being a translator, I help out a little bit with media relations, I help a little bit with video stuff. So usually I come in, get some work done, work on some video stuff, help out with media relations, then I'm usually around the clubhouse most of the day. I'll come down when we open the clubhouse for the media, just in case reporters want to talk to one of the Latin players and they don't want to speak English, or they can't speak English, I can be there to help make it easier.
After that I watch BP and kind of enjoy it a little bit, and then it's game time. During the game I help out with our Spanish Twitter, @BrewersBeisbol, I do the updates there, and after the game I'm back down in the clubhouse for the reporters when they come in after the game if they want to talk to any of the Latin players. It's a long day, but it's fun. You're around baseball and you get to watch baseball every day. You can't complain about that.
How many guys are there on the roster that only speak Spanish or prefer to speak Spanish?
You know, right now we only have two. Orlando (Arcia) understands a lot but doesn't speak it as well, and then we have Junior Guerra. He understands and speaks it well but when he comes to interviews he'd rather do it in Spanish, it feels more comfortable.
So right now we only have those two players. A couple of the guys for the most part do well, they speak English well. I'm around just in case, there have been times where they kind of get stuck on a question or something. So I'm always around to help them out in case they get stuck or don't understand a question very well, they'll ask me and I'll help them out. But for the most part these guys have been around long enough that they've picked up English and can speak it very well.
Are you also helping out with interactions between players and coaches?
Right now, no. We have a first base and infield coach, Carlos Subero, he's bilingual as well. So when it comes to the baseball side he deals with most of that. Also a lot of the players, once they get here, understand baseball English. They can communicate with the coaches pretty well. So right now I kind of stay away from that. Every once in a while they'll ask me to come help with the trainer or the strength coach will ask me to come help try to say a few things, and I'll help out with that. But for the most part I leave that to the coaching staff. I mostly help out with the media and anything outside the dugout.
So you must develop a pretty close relationship with the guys you're translating for?
Yeah. I've been able to get close to them. I'm around not only them, but the whole team. I'm in the clubhouse every day so they see me every day. The first couple of weeks it was kind of slow because they didn't know me, I came in late and wasn't able to go to spring training, so I didn't get to know the guys until they got here. But overall, with the Spanish-speaking players, the Latin players and the American players, they've all been really good. It's nice. You get to know those guys outside of baseball.