Bilin­gual Rios be­comes a bridge in the club­house

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - Jacob Un­ruh jun­ruh@ok­la­homan.com

Ed­win Rios was promised a bet­ter fu­ture nearly 20 years ago when he ar­rived in Florida.

Then age 5 and hav­ing grown up in Puerto Rico, Rios did not know a sin­gle word of English. His par­ents felt it was im­por­tant to learn the lan­guage be­cause it was the best path to a good ed­u­ca­tion.

And he could still play base­ball.

Rios found his way on the base­ball di­a­mond as he spent hour af­ter hour in school work­ing to learn a new lan­guage.

Now 24, Rios is a bridge in the Oklahoma City Dodgers club­house as a bilin­gual power-hit­ting left-han­der who is a jokester and the self-pro­claimed DJ in a club­house full of young, promis­ing tal­ent.

“It’s hon­estly amaz­ing,” Rios said with­out a hint of an ac­cent

be­fore Wed­nes­day’s se­ries opener with Salt Lake at Chick­a­saw Brick­town Ball­park.

“I see both sides. That’s why I’m the big DJ. I have my Span­ish mu­sic and I have my English mu­sic. I have guys in there from the Do­mini­can and stuff like that where some­times they can’t get their point across or can’t com­mu­ni­cate, but I’m here. I can help them with that, so it’s awe­some just to be able to help oth­ers and trans­late. It’s all of that hard work my par­ents put in for us.”

Rios has made plenty of noise with his bat through­out his pro­fes­sional career. He had a huge spring, belt­ing two long homers to cen­ter field. It was his first big league camp, a sign he was near­ing a chance in Los An­ge­les be­fore the in­jury oc­curred.

He en­tered Wed­nes­day hav­ing hit safely in 10 of his 14 games since re­join­ing the team from an in­jury that cost him the first two months of the sea­son. He leads the Dodgers with three homers in June.

But his role in the club­house may be even more im­por­tant.

Rios’ locker is perched be­tween vet­eran Rob Segedin and Henry Ramos. He lives with Ramos, a fel­low Puerto Ri­can who has also learned some English, and they live 20 min­utes apart in the off­sea­son. Rios be­ing back brings com­fort to Ramos.

“I’ve got English just for the fans,” Ramos said. “But when I have to ex­plain some­thing to the coaches I bring Rios in be­cause I want to say ev­ery­thing he un­der­stands.

“We’re like brothers. He’s al­ways happy, he’s got good en­ergy, he’s al­ways happy, he’s al­ways a good team­mate.”

For other play­ers, the en­ergy has picked up in the club­house.

Rios plays all sorts of mu­sic in pregame if he’s able. He cracks jokes with ev­ery­body.

“We kinda missed him the first two months or what­ever when he was in Ari­zona,” Segedin said. “We were all wait­ing for him to get back be­cause he’s a great team­mate. He com­mu­ni­cates with every­one and is friends with ev­ery­body.”

Now Rios is try­ing to com­plete the dream his par­ents started 19 years ago. He has learned mul­ti­ple po­si­tions hop­ing he can get a shot in Los An­ge­les. Wed­nes­day, he started at third base. He can play first base and in the out­field as well.

“It was a jour­ney,” Rios said. “It worked out. I can’t thank (my par­ents) enough for what they did for me and my brothers.”

[PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE

Ed­win Rios (24) of the Oklahoma City Dodgers drives in a run dur­ing a Triple-A base­ball game be­tween the Oklahoma City Dodgers and the Salt Lake Bees at Chick­a­saw Brick­town Ball­park on Wed­nes­day.

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