Q&A: Catching up with Teoscar after his transcendent Bronx showing

June 10th, 2024

During his productive weekend against the Yankees in which he went 6-for-12 [.500] with three home runs and nine RBIs, Dodgers outfielder took a break from the action and talked to MLB.com about several topics, from his stellar 2024 season to how he mastered the English language.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

MLB.com: Why do you do so well against the Yankees?

Hernández: I don’t know. I think I get more focused when facing good teams and pitching. I think that’s the key.

MLB.com: When you were with the Blue Jays, you were part of some great lineups. How does this Dodgers lineup compare to those lineups in Toronto?

Hernández: Everybody here [in Los Angeles] has experience, more success. When I was in Toronto, we had Boey [Bo Bichette], Vladdy [Guerrero], [Marcus] Semien, [Lourdes] Gurriel [Jr]. The only guys with experience [at that time] were Semien and [George] Springer. It’s a little different [with the Dodgers]. Everybody has really good experience -- playoffs, World Series and years in the big leagues. You learn more from the guys that we have here than the ones that I had when I was in Toronto.

MLB.com: When you see , and , what do you learn from those guys? When I look at the top of the lineup, it’s awesome to watch them perform.

Hernández: You try to do everything that they do: How they prepare, how they do things in the clubhouse, batting cage and on the field. It’s not a surprise by the things that they have done during their careers. They have been doing it for 10 years. It’s great. You have to take something away from those guys, and put it into your career and try to get the same results.

MLB.com: The one thing I noticed is, you are not being replaced in the late innings for defense. Your defense has improved. In Toronto, the Blue Jays used to take you out in the late innings. What have you done to make sure you play the entire game?

Hernández: It’s just practice. Getting comfortable, getting my confidence. I know I can be a good defender. I trust everything I have. I’m going out there and having fun. Play aggressive, don’t be afraid to make a mistake and just make everything happen.

MLB.com: After Friday’s 2-1 win over the Yankees, there was a reporter who said, “You are different this year.” I agree with the reporter. There is a glow in your face that I haven’t seen in past years. What’s different about you?

Hernández: I don’t know. I think because I have more experience. When the years go by, you are getting more experience. You know how to handle things. It’s the things that you learn throughout the years in the big leagues. I know it’s a long season, so I know there are going to be ups and downs. Just trying to minimize the downs and maximize the ups. Just go there, have fun and enjoy what you do.

MLB.com: You are a free agent after this season. How much do you want to stay with the Dodgers? What are your plans?

Hernández: I want to stay. I don’t want to keep bouncing around the league. I feel good here, comfortable. I think this is a good chance for me to win. That is the most important thing for me. It’s a great group. I would love to stay.

MLB.com: How badly do you want to win a championship?

Hernández: That’s the final goal in my career. I have a ring, but I wasn’t there with the Houston Astros in 2017. But I want to be there. I want to work for it. I want to get this ring because I did this. I helped this team win this.

MLB.com: I noticed that you speak eloquently. How did you learn to speak English?

Hernández: It was back in 2012. I was in Houston. When I arrived in the States, I didn’t speak any English. Nothing, except maybe say, “Hi.” [The Astros] had a program for all Latin players who didn’t know English. They had to take classes. I put a lot of focus on the things that I needed to make me a better player, person and make everything easier for me in the States.

MLB.com: Who is the person that helped you master the English language?

Hernández: Doris Gonzalez. She was my teacher. She was the one that made me study and do everything I needed to learn about the language. She was always there to help me and try to give me everything I needed to make everything easier. It’s hard to come from the Dominican Republic. I didn’t know any English.

MLB.com: Besides Ohtani, we see you on TV a lot. Anytime someone wants to interview a Dodger, you are always there. Everybody wants to talk to you.

Hernández: I know it’s part of my job. I know it’s your job to come here and interview us. It makes me feel good that I’m able to do it. I’m in a place that I can do anything the guys need me to do.

MLB.com: What advice would you give to anyone that wants to learn a new language?

Hernández: I learned English, but it’s not just because of baseball. I live in the States now. I have a family. I’m going to make my life after baseball in this country. I have to know everything that I need to know to survive and teach my kids. Their first language is going to be English because they are going to school, and they are going to do a lot. … If you want to learn something, you just put in a lot of effort. Don’t get tired. Just keep going.

MLB.com: It seems once your playing career is over, you will not be in baseball. You will be teaching somewhere, I believe.

Hernández: I’m a big family guy. I want to be there for my kids. Baseball takes away a lot of time from my family. When I’m done playing -- I don’t know, three or four or five years -- I’m going to be there for them.