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'Pituki' leads way as Players Weekend nears

Solarte an example for young Padres, excited to sport nickname for inaugural event
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Most days, Yangervis Solarte rides into the home clubhouse at Petco Park on his electric scooter -- shades on, shirt tucked, hair slicked and a mischievous grin fixed on his face. Some days he tinkers with the speaker that plays music next to his locker. Other days, he breaks into a full-on salsa dance.

When it's time to work, Solarte works. When it's time for fun, he has fun. There are two distinct sides to the Padres infielder. There's the four-year big league veteran who's entrenched himself in the middle of San Diego's order. And there's the buoyant ballplayer, whose larger-than-life personality radiates through the clubhouse.

SAN DIEGO -- Most days, Yangervis Solarte rides into the home clubhouse at Petco Park on his electric scooter -- shades on, shirt tucked, hair slicked and a mischievous grin fixed on his face. Some days he tinkers with the speaker that plays music next to his locker. Other days, he breaks into a full-on salsa dance.

When it's time to work, Solarte works. When it's time for fun, he has fun. There are two distinct sides to the Padres infielder. There's the four-year big league veteran who's entrenched himself in the middle of San Diego's order. And there's the buoyant ballplayer, whose larger-than-life personality radiates through the clubhouse.

Call that version, "Pituki."

"El famosa Pituki," Solarte clarifies quickly. Or, if he's toggling with the music, "DJ Pituki."

Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com

There's no real translation for the nickname "Pituki," which Solarte will wear on the back of his jersey for the inaugural Players Weekend from Aug. 25-27, when all players will wear uniforms featuring alternate designs. His cousin Diego gave him the name year and a half ago, and it stuck. It's one of five nicknames Solarte allows others to call him.

"Last year, it was Chikiluki; this year, it's Pituki," Solarte said. "Pituki has flow to it. It's got swag."

Solarte is also content to go by "El Nino," "Tutu" or "Soly." But there's a reason he chose "Pituki" for San Diego's series in Miami later this month. It's the name used by a handful of the young Latin players in the Padres' clubhouse. To them, Pituki serves as something of an educator.

Players Weekend: Nicknames of the game

Solarte -- along with shortstop Erick Aybar -- has a locker next to the entrance to the clubhouse. After games, it's not uncommon for a contingent of the team's young Latin players to gather in a circle by those lockers, where they'll discuss the events of the day.

"We're talking more about life and not so much the things that happen on the field," said rookie shortstop Allen Cordoba. "We're just talking. He's a good influence. He's a good person in the clubhouse. He's a person that's always happy, and he passes it on to all the other guys."

Those postgame sessions are undoubtedly an important experience in the growth of young players such as Cordoba, Manuel Margot, Luis Torrens and Franchy Cordero. Where better to learn, after all?

"He's always giving you energy," Margot said. "He always lifts you up in that way. He's someone who's always happy. Everyone struggles. Everyone goes through their highs and lows. When you have someone like him around, he helps lift you up, get you out of that."

In the eyes of his skipper, Solarte is an invaluable presence in the development of a young team.

"He's an example to follow," manager Andy Green said. "The joy that he brings to the ballpark every day, people expect that, and they respond to that very well. ... This game is supposed to be moments of intense focus followed by moments that are a lot of fun. He does both."

Video: PHI@SD: Solarte lines an RBI double to left-center

During Players Weekend, players will also have the opportunity to wear and use unique spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catchers masks and bats. They'll sport specially designed New Era caps and socks from Stance. During pregame and postgame, they'll wear T-shirts that highlight a charity or cause of their choice.

"It's going to be fun," Solarte said. "It's something different. I like it."

Each player will wear a patch on his sleeve showing the progression of a child evolving into a Major Leaguer. Under that logo is a tribute to a person who they feel helped them to advance their careers.

Game-worn Players Weekend jerseys will be auctioned at MLB.com/auctions with 100 percent of net proceeds donated to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, a joint effort established in July 2015 by MLB and the MLBPA, with an initial commitment of $30 million focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the U.S. and Canada. The uniforms will first be worn by the Pirates and Cardinals during the MLB Little League Classic to be played in Williamsport, Pa., on Sunday during the 2017 Little League World Series. That game will take place at Bowman Field, home of the Williamsport Crosscutters, a Phillies affiliate in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Yangervis Solarte