MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the final night stop of a busy Twins Winter Caravan leg for Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios, but they're more energetic than ever in their playful banter with the crowd in Bemidji, Minn., less than 100 miles from the Canadian border.A little boy near the front of
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the final night stop of a busy Twins Winter Caravan leg for Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios, but they're more energetic than ever in their playful banter with the crowd in Bemidji, Minn., less than 100 miles from the Canadian border.
A little boy near the front of the room puts his hand up. He wants to ask new manager Rocco Baldelli a question.
"Rocco, are you going to lead the Twins to the World Series?"
Rosario is loving it. "Hey! I like this kid! I like this kid!" he yells, to laughs and applause from the crowd.
Later in the night, another youth asks Rosario how many homers he plans to hit this year.
But Berrios holds out an arm. "I got this! I got this! Eddie told me earlier he wants to hit 35 homers this year." The crowd laughs again.
Seated next to them at the table on stage is Elvis Martinez, who laughs along with them. He's a member of the Twins' communications staff and also serves as the team's Spanish language interpreter. But he hasn't been needed for much interpretation on this trip.
Rosario and Berrios, both Puerto Ricans, have a good natural rapport and humor, but before this year, they hadn't been able to share it with crowds because of the language barrier. But on this trip, they decided to put in the extra effort to step out of their comfort zone and do every caravan stop in English, using Martinez sparingly for tougher terminology. It was a good call.
"Right now, I feel more comfortable, because people give you that trust," Rosario said. "It makes me feel more comfortable, because I know I'm doing it right. Before, I used to say something, and people stayed the same. Stone faces. But now, I say something, and people smile back at you and talk to you and play with you and things like that, and that makes me comfortable."
"You see people out there laughing, smiling back at you, that gives us confidence to try it in English," Berrios said.
These efforts certainly didn't go unnoticed in the tight-knit communities of northern Minnesota. A woman asks for the audience microphone.
"I was wondering how much the interpreter gets paid, because it doesn't seem like he's needed for much," she jokes.
She goes on to tell the players how much she appreciates and respects that they're putting in the effort to speak English to their community.
"I felt really good [in Bemidji] when the old woman told me, 'Thank you for speaking English,'" Rosario said. "I was so happy. I was so happy.
"I'm very thankful for here when I come up and speak English in front of these fans ... nobody makes fun when you have broken English. They respect you and I enjoy that. Every day, I make an effort and people understand what I'm saying, so that's good."
Rosario and Berrios still aren't totally comfortable with the language, especially in these public venues, where they're representing not only themselves, but the Minnesota Twins organization. But later that night, at the team's annual Diamond Awards in Minneapolis, they also gave acceptance speeches prepared in English, which didn't go unnoticed.
And even when he's not canvassing Twins Territory, Rosario has three other important reasons to keep improving his English, too.
"When I'm home, my little [kids] only speak English," Rosario said. "I try [to teach them Spanish], but they like to speak English. They understand only English."
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.