KENLEY JANSEN: “I’M A CLOSER BECAUSE I’M LATINO”

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A post by Peter Jordens.

“I’m a closer because I’m Latino,” Los Angeles Dodger relief pitcher extraordinaire Kenley Jansen says. Born in Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao, Jansen speaks multiple languages and feels at home anywhere in the Caribbean, just like many of his countrymen in the major leagues.

He’s big and nasty, 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, considered the best closer in Tinseltown and the National League two years running after once again receiving the Trevor Hoffman Reliever of the Year Award. […] “To take the mound in close games, you have to be strong and it helps to be Latino, to be hot-blooded,” Jansen said in Spanish in an interview with César Augusto Márquez of La Vida Baseball. “Our islands have a lot of Latino influence — that’s why I feel Latino. We are very close to Venezuela, but we’re also Caribbean. We have the Puerto Rican culture, the Dominican culture. For example, while I like to eat everything, one of my favorite foods is ropa vieja (Cuban shredded beef).”

This is 21st-century baseball. Some of Jansen’s favorite players growing up were Venezuelans Edgardo Alfonzo (Mets) and Melvin Mora (Mets, Orioles) and he followed the Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela’s winter league. He enjoyed Cuban food and listening to Gilberto Santa Rosa and other Puerto Rican salsa singers — all while admiring a rather singular Panamanian pitcher […], Mariano Rivera, the legendary New York Yankees closer whose name is now on the American League Reliever of the Year Award. […]

“I always admired Mariano Rivera,” Jansen said. “It thought it was incredible how he dominated batters. When I became a reliever and later a closer, I made my goal to be like him. Our style is identical; we both rely on one pitch.” Jansen’s big thrill on Saturday before Game 3 of the World Series when he received his award was meeting Rivera in person. Rivera is known for his Christian charity work and Jansen wants to be like him in every aspect. “I also admire Mariano for what he’s done off the field and because he’s a family man,” Jansen said.

For the complete, original article, go to https://www.lavidabaseball.com/kenley-jansen-dodgers-world-series.

Learn about Jansen’s own work off the field, for his family, and for sports in Curaçao in this article: “How Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen saved his parents’ home, and influenced an island,” LA Times, October 24, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-jansen-curacao-20171023-story.html.

Here is a video of part of the Reliever of the Year Award press conference where Jansen, with his son on his lap, answered questions in English and Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAk_rxF0D7c.

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