TORONTO -- With a bat brightly dressed in the flag and colors of Venezuela and the names of his mentors written on his personalized arm patch, Eduardo Escobar was one of several Minnesota Twins to pay tribute to his roots on Players Weekend.The third baseman wore "El de la Pica"
TORONTO -- With a bat brightly dressed in the flag and colors of Venezuela and the names of his mentors written on his personalized arm patch, Eduardo Escobar was one of several Minnesota Twins to pay tribute to his roots on Players Weekend.
The third baseman wore "El de la Pica" on his back for the inaugural event, referencing both his birthplace and a nickname that follows him to this day.
"It's a tribute to my town," said Escobar through Twins interpreter Carlos Font. "I'm the only professional baseball player to come out of that town. Everyone in Venezuela knows me as 'El de la Pica' because I'm the only one from La Pica. So it's a tribute to them and to people that saw me grow up."
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On his arm, Escobar featured the names of four people who carried a big influence in his life: Juan Bacoa, Juan Escobar, Amador Arias, and his mom, Carmen Adeca.
"It's the people who are important to me," he said. "Juan Bacoa is the person who introduced me to baseball. Juan Escobar trained me to play professionally. And then Amador Arias, who is the only scout who gave me an opportunity when no one else wanted to. No one believed in me so he's the one who signed me to a professional deal.
"And then my mom, who's the person who got me to where I am today."
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He was hardly alone among Twins looking to honor their families. Bartolo Colon chose "Morales" because it was the last name of his mother, who died in 2014, second baseman James Dozier ("Doz") sported his hometown of Fulton, Miss., on his patch, while infielder Jorge Polanco's nickname ("Chulo") was given to him as a baby and his tribute patch honors his mother, Ines Pachecho, and his grandparents.
Rookie right-hander Trevor Hildenberger ("Hildy"), meanwhile, chose a patch that honors the Branham Hills Little League near where he grew up in San Jose, Calif.
"I didn't want to go to tryouts as a kid. My mom encouraged me to go to tryouts every spring because I just wanted to stay home on Saturday mornings and watch cartoons," said Hildenberger, noting that he had heard from several Little League teammates and coaches about the patch.
"If it wasn't for that Little League, I wouldn't be here today. I'm looking forward to representing them on the field."
Nick Patch is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Twins on Friday.