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Peralta a role model for teammates, community

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joel Peralta is looked to as a role model for young Latino players within the confines of Tropicana Field and the Rays' clubhouse for what he has done on the mound, but they could also learn a thing or two from his efforts away from the baseball diamond.

Peralta makes frequent visits to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg and donates a portion of each paycheck to the Rays Baseball Foundation, which supports youth programs in the Tampa Bay area.

"If [the Rays] ask me to do something for the community, I'm open to it," Peralta said. "I have done some stuff with clinics here teaching kids to play baseball."

But Peralta's generosity doesn't end there. He returns to his hometown of Bonao, Dominican Republic, each offseason and recently undertook a project to build 25 homes for underprivileged families with former teammate Juan Cruz.

Peralta comes from humble beginnings, as he grew up as the youngest of five children in Bonao, where his father worked in sugar cane fields and his mother worked as a school janitor.

Peralta spends many of his off-days mentoring youth baseball teams in Clearwater, Fla.

"It's something I love to do," Peralta said. "Almost every day off I have here, if they're practicing, I'll make it. I have no problem doing it. It's a lot of fun with those kids. They enjoy it and we both learn a lot."

Sam Strong is an associate reporter for
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