By Committing Fully To Learning Spanish, Alex Bregman Shows The Value Of Building Bridges, Not Walls
Posted on: 13 May 2019 by Sam Raynolds
There was a moment recently in the Astros clubhouse that featured Jose Altuve doing something noteworthy, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Altuve.
Altuve had executed a gambit in a game of cards, besting three teammates and, while smiling broadly, shifted in his seat to his left and uttered something in Spanish to third baseman Alex Bregman, who was not participating but was an acute observer. The episode offered a playful snapshot of their relationship, one that is typical in most clubhouses yet unique in the details.
Bregman, born and reared in Albuquerque, N.M., started learning Spanish during his prep years at Albuquerque Academy out of intellectual curiosity and for practical application. As a member of the USA Baseball 16-and-under national team in 2010, Bregman helped the Americans claim gold in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.
One summer later, Bregman won gold again with USA Baseball, this time with the 18-and-under national team, which swept through nine games in Cartagena, Colombia. While at LSU, Bregman logged two summers with the U.S. Collegiate National Team, participating in five games in Pinar del Rio, Cuba in 2014.
That international experienced enabled Bregman to flex his nascent bilingual skills, and he relished playing the role of the interpreter while ordering at restaurants or sharing requests with Spanish-speaking staff whenever the need arose. But along his path toward professional baseball, Bregman recognized a greater desire within to fully immerse himself in Spanish.
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“I just think it’s part of life: try to be a good teammate,” Bregman said. “You want to be able to communicate, you want to be really close to your teammates. That’s the main reason.”
When Bregman made his big-league debut on July 25, 2016, he became part of an infield that fueled his personal growth. Altuve, the superstar second baseman, and utility infielder Marwin Gonzalez hail from Venezuela. Shortstop Carlos Correa is Puerto Rican-born. Cuban first baseman Yuli Gurriel debuted nearly two months to the day after Bregman arrived.
Bregman pressed forward, establishing a rapport with his fellow infielders on and off the diamond. He understood that he could fortify his relationships with that subset of teammates by strengthening his ability to speak in their native tongue. Bregman long ago realized that communication is a two-way street, and for as much as is required of Spanish-speaking players to become bilingual, the inverse should be true for those whose first language is English.
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