Exclusive Interview with Yunel Escobar

With the help of The Braves Show's official Spanish translator Kike Seda, Bill Shanks talks with infielder Yunel Escobar.

SHANKS: So how do you feel being up here and being a big leaguer?
ESCOBAR: I feel very, very good. I'm feeling comfortable at the plate now. At first there was some pressure, but now I feel comfortable. I'm at third base and I feel good. I'm seeing the ball good at the plate.

SHANKS: Is it as much fun as you thought it was going to be to be up here?
ESCOBAR: I'm having a good time. I'm enjoying myself. And now I want to stay. Now that I'm here I want to stay and not go back.

SHANKS: It's easy to get spoiled being here, right?
ESCOBAR: I just wanted the opportunity, and now that the opportunity is here I've got to take advantage of it.

SHANKS: How much did he play at third base in the minors?
ESCOBAR: I played 23 games in the minors at third base. I played mostly at shortstop, but I really feel most comfortable at third base. That's my position now. I feel very comfortable at third base. At first I had to make some adjustments, but one you do that if you're a good ballplayer you go and feel more comfortable.

SHANKS: Tell me how you found out about getting the call to the big leagues.
ESCOBAR: I was going to Canada to play but I didn't have the papers, so they sent me to play in Chattanooga. Then when I got to Chattanooga, they told me to get my stuff up. ‘You're going to Chicago.'

SHANKS: Who told you?
ESCOBAR: The trainer and Wellman.

SHANKS: Did your dad get here today?
ESCOBAR: My dad is here. My sister is here. My wife. The only one missing is my mother. That's my dream – to get her here also.

SHANKS: What did Brayan Pena say to you when you got the call?
ESCOBAR: He told me he was glad I was here and that he was proud of me. He told me to do a good job. The only thing that was bad was that we couldn't be here together. He wishes he could be here with me.

SHANKS: It is kind of peculiar that he was here and then went down and now you're up.

SHANKS: Now that we know Chipper may miss a few more games, is you're your opportunity to show everyone, particularly Bobby Cox, that you belong up here?
ESCOBAR: Yes. I just need to be consistent. You've got to be consistent and take advantage of the opportunity. I'm ready.

SHANKS: What was it like to break up the no-hitter?
ESCOBAR: Renteria told me that he had never been in a game when a no-hitter took place. I told him I was going to break it up right then. I wanted to break it up.

SHANKS: What's the biggest difference now that you are up here? Is it the crowd or what?
ESCOBAR: The first game was something. It was Chicago. It's legendary. It has the history. It was awesome.

SHANKS: You've played in Cuba, but do you get the same excitement playing in a place like Wrigley Field?
ESCOBAR: I feel very strong about playing there too. Everybody knows about it, even in Cuba.

SHANKS: Is there any way to know, when a player gets to the big leagues, how big it is? How do the people react back in Cuba when they hear someone from there has made it to the big leagues?
ESCOBAR: The people in Miami are watching me. My whole country is watching. They know it. I'm sure they saw me tonight.

SHANKS: Does your mom know?

SHANKS: So do you have any contact at all with your mom?
ESCOBAR: She's reading the papers. She cannot see the games. They are focusing on her because they know I want to bring her over. Now that I'm here in the big leagues, you have to be a bit more careful.

SHANKS: How often do you talk with her?
ESCOBAR: I'm not talking to her as much because I don't want them to focus on her. I have to let it lay for a while.

SHANKS: What is your preference in the batting order? You've hit second, eighth….
ESCOBAR: Uh… (laughs)

SHANKS: Atlanta?
ESCOBAR: Yeah Atlanta. Atlanta. I like Atlanta.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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