Just when you think you know someone, you find out that you really don’t know them at all.
This was the case with Luis Severino.
Just recently, I was watching a simulated game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Brett Gardner was getting some extra at bats along with some of the young hitting prospects. Severino came out to watch a couple of the pitchers that were throwing. For the last two years, I had only heard Severino speak in Spanish so I took it for granted that he only spoke Spanish.
To my surprise, I heard him speaking to Brett Gardner in English! It wasn’t a broken English, but a very clear and polished English. He saw me smiling at him and he asked why? I said that I was so happy to hear him talking in English because I feel that too many English speaking latin players, that I know, like to hide behind their translators and we never get to see how intelligent and interesting some of these guys really are. I used to be Bartolo Colon’s translator and I was often upset with him because I wanted him to speak to the press himself so that everyone could know who he was instead of just this character known as “big sexy” When his baseball career is over he will still only be the heavy guy who was known as Big Sexy. I think that this is sad because Bartolo Colon is more that that, he is actually a pretty intelligent guy who the world never really got to know.
In the case of Luis Severino, that will never be the case because this young man took it upon himself to master the language and to also master the sense of being a responsible person. He told me that he actually learned English by watching the television series “Friends” with his own American friends and asking them a lot of questions. He said that he has also helped a lot of those same pals by teaching them Spanish. I also love the fact that he considers himself a responsible parent that must teach his own child by example as well as by being an adult.
Severino said that when he heard about the Parkland shootings he really felt it as a parent and wondered how a parent could send his child to what is supposed to be a safe environment and then not have their child return home. He said that as a parent he took it very personal. He really hurt for those parents that lost their children.
Luis Severino started a foundation that helps children in the Dominican Republic with their education and also poor people of his hometown and he wants to do the same thing in the poorest areas of New York. Luis has a total understanding of what a Yankee baseball player is supposed to be and what he represents. Luis said that a fellow countryman and great Yankee, Robinson Cano, wore his pinstripes with great pride in the Dominican Republic and was a wonderful example to so many Dominican players . That in itself made it easy for Luis to really want to be a Yankee.
How ever it happened, I want to congratulate the Yankees for whatever hand they had in helping Luis Severino, not only develop as a baseball player but also as a fine young man. The prototype for development of these players, the one used for Severino, should be kept in the front of the file.
Luis Severino will be the opening day starter for the New York Yankees in Toronto and he is extremely proud of this assignment. I’m not going to get into all the numbers and success ratios etc. I will leave that up to the analytic guys. I will say that I feel very comfortable with Mr. Severino on the mound for us as our ace. On the 40th anniversary of the greatest season that a Yankee pitcher has ever had (Ron Guidry) I look forward to great success from this very fine young man this season.