Lake Elsinore, California
On Friday night, I attended and covered the Lake Elsinore Storm’s victory over the Stockton Ports in the California League.
Following the game, I spoke with various Storm players about their time in Lake Elsinore, how they’ve played, language barriers, and other things.
The locker room atmosphere was relaxed and happy after the team won their game comfortably, 8-2.
Every player I asked for an interview with was happy to converse with me about multiple topics.
Allen Cordoba (Translated from Spanish Interview)
Q: Have you enjoyed being here in Lake Elsinore with the team, and how are you feeling right now?
A: “I feel good, though it’s been tough because I didn’t play for a while, and now I’m here — Things aren’t really going the way I would like. With that said, I’m working to get better.”
Q: Can you talk more about how you felt about waiting around and not playing with the concussion symptoms you had? How did you feel mentally about the situation?
A: “I was a little frustrated because I couldn’t play for so much time. Luckily now thanks to God, I am back to playing again. Now it’s about putting in the work, and enjoying the game.”
Q: Do you think the information and scouting on the opponents you have here is similar to the same information and scouting you had in San Diego with the Padres?
A: “It’s similar, definitely similar. It’s all the same, there isn’t really a difference between what I got there and what I have here. Really the teams all come with structure, staff, and players here — The same way they do in the major leagues.”
Q: When you’re hitting, are you thinking more about hitting home runs, or trying to make contact?
A: “I do my work to try and hit the ball, and make good contact.”
Q: Hitting the ball hard more than anything else?
A: “Yes, exactly.”
Q: What are some of your goals for the rest of the season?
A: “First of all I hope that I can finish the season healthy, without any setbacks. I want to finish the season off strong, do my work and improve the things I can.”
Dauris Valdez (Translated from Spanish Interview)
Q: How do you feel here in Lake Elsinore, and what do you think of the team here in general?
A: “I feel very good here, because I’m with my teammates, and this is a team where guys help each other out. Everyone here is unified and we go out and do what has to be done as a team.”
Q: How do you feel about the difference in language, and how does the team handle the gap between guys who don’t speak English and those who do?
A: “I’ve felt really good, because for the most part in the bullpen when someone wants to say something to me, I can understand most of what they are saying. I try and talk with the guys who don’t speak Spanish, and they try to understand me as best they can. At the same time, it’s allowed me to work on my English, too. My English has definitely improved in my time around the [bullpen] guys. My teammates have done a really nice job making the atmosphere out in the bullpen feel really comfortable.”
Q: The team was playing a little football and throwing the ball around before warming up earlier today on the field. Is that something that happens often on the team or was that just something that happened today?
A: “It’s something we’ve definitely done before, and it’s just a good way to have some fun before the practice starts. It’s a nice alternative activity to do before putting in our work.”
Q: Is there a guy on the team who you think is the funniest?
A: “Definitely [David] Bednar. (At this time Bednar, whose locker is near Valdez’s, jokingly asked Valdez if he was talking crap about him — The mood was relaxed and rather happy after the Storm won the game.) He’s my brother and he’s always smiling. Really just a fun guy to be around.”
Q: How did you feel tonight after pitching three shutout innings?
A: “I felt good, just kind of threw strikes and the defense made good plays behind me.”
Q: Was there a particular pitch you felt like you had confidence in tonight, or were they all kind of working well?
A: “Just kind of threw them all for strikes, and the guys made the plays behind me.”
Q: Is there one pitch that you feel like over the course of the season you trust more than any other, outside of your fastball?
A: “Probably my curveball, but my splitter has come along as well. I have a lot more confidence in that pitch now.”
Q: Do you think that American baseball is less interested in throwing the splitter, maybe compared with Japanese baseball?
A: “Not really, it’s just a matter of what works for the individual. Whatever can get you outs is the name of the game.”
Michel Baez (Translated from Spanish Interview)
Q: How do you feel after pitching a really good game today?
A: “I feel really good and I’m happy with the result of my start today. Really though the best thing for me is that I’m healthy and I’m thankful for that.”
Q: What do you think of the Latino players on the team and how are you liking playing with them?
A: “The communication is always good with [the Latino players] and I’ve enjoyed playing with them. They have made some good plays that have protected our pitching.”
Q: It looks like you have some good style going on with the clothing you’re wearing. Do you like style or is it not really something you put too much thought into?
A: “I don’t really like it that much, I just put on what I like and feel comfortable wearing.”
Q: What do you think of the catcher Luis Torrens, and have you enjoyed working with him this season?
A: “Yes, I’ve really liked working with him because he really helps with knowing the batters and he knows what pitches to throw to each hitter. That’s something that really helps me as a pitcher.”
Q: What are some of the differences between the California League and the Midwest League?
A: “The big difference is that in the Midwest League hitters swing a lot more often. That makes it a lot easier to pitch to them and get them out. Here you have to better place your pitches to get hitters out.”
Q: What do you think about the differences between life in Cuba and the United States?
A: “The difference is really big, in every sense — In the food and the climate, but honestly the change hasn’t been so difficult for me.”