Why can't I be like my brother?

March 11th, 2016

Sorry for not writing for so long. My last blog was about clearing my locker out at the end of the season. During the offseason, I stayed mostly in Miami with my family -- including my new baby daughter! We also spent almost a month in Venezuela during the holidays. It's so great now to be back in the clubhouse with everybody. And really, really great to be back on the field.
This season, I'm going to try to do something a little different with the blog. I want to talk about the things I had to learn in order to get to where I am today. I realize my experiences are limited to baseball. All I've done in my life is play baseball. So that's all I know. Well, that and video games. Really, that's it.
But I was looking up in the stands during a game here the other day, and seeing all the kids and wondering if any of them were like me as a kid. So that's what got me thinking about sharing what I learned and how I learned it. I hope there are kids out there who might get something from it, even if they don't play baseball.
As many of you know, I have a twin brother named Gregory. He was pretty social. I was really shy and quiet. He was a catcher, and I played infield and outfield. He was always better than me. When we were kids, he was one of the best players in the whole country of Venezuela. I'd come home from a game we played together and think, "Why can't I be like my brother?''
I loved baseball and dreamed about being a Major League baseball player. But it was kind of an unrealistic dream. When we were 12 or 13, my brother and I played in a tournament where all the regions of the country came together to compete against each other. Players were picked from those teams to play on the national team to represent Venezuela. My brother was picked. I wasn't.
I was pretty upset. I was tired of always coming up short. I wanted to be who I wanted to be.
I started going to the baseball field by myself. It was about a three-mile walk from my house. I'd run the bases and slide into second and third. I'd toss up the ball and hit line drives. Then I'd run out onto the field to get the ball and hit it again. I'd go after school. On Friday nights. I'd be there by myself when my friends were starting to go out at night to parties. Gregory went, too. He wasn't working very hard at baseball any more. He thought I was a little crazy to running around the bases on an empty field. But I had made a decision to do whatever I could to be a baseball player.
I started to get better pretty fast. When I was 14, all of sudden, baseball teams were taking notice. "Look at this kid! He can run pretty fast. He can field. He can do all this and all that.''
When I was 15 1/2, the Atlanta Braves chose me to train at their academy in Venezuela. They said I should stop playing with other kids on the regional teams. I would get better coaching from the Braves. I'd be playing with better players. My brother wasn't chosen. He was still good, but he started losing his interest and didn't keep improving.
Soon after I started at the academy, the Braves took me to their instructional league in Orlando to see what it was like. It was the first time I had been out of the country. I still wasn't even 16 yet. It was so amazing. If I needed any more motivation, I got it there. When I got back home, the national team came calling. But by then, I had higher goals. My eyes were looking beyond the national team. Now my goal of making the Major Leagues wasn't so unrealistic.
So I want to tell kids, don't get frustrated when things aren't going your way. Who you are in that moment is just who you are in the moment. You will become something else. You have to work for it. You have to really want it. The mind is the most powerful thing that we have. If you start believing that you can do something, you are one step closer to doing it.
Thank you for reading.
I'd love to know about the best lessons you learned as a kid. Share them with me in the comments below.