Puerto Rico means a lot to me. I love Puerto Rico. I love playing for these guys out here. When I came back, everybody told me, “Every time you hit a home run we scream at home and we go crazy!”
For me to be able to create that impact means everything. At the end of the day, it is a sport, and they love watching it, but it really does have an impact. For me, that’s really gratifying — something really special.
This offseason, everything changed. I thought it was going to be the same as when I left, but I talked to my mom right before I flew into Puerto Rico, and she told me I had to be ready. People were going to be all over me. The fans were going to go crazy.
I was like, “No. mom, I don’t think so. I don’t think it’ll be different …”
But as soon as I got home, I could tell. It was different. People were noticing me everywhere. At the airport. At the mall. At restaurants. People ask me for autographs or pictures everywhere I go. But I enjoy it. I have fun doing it. These fans have supported me since I was a little kid. To be able to be back home with my people and to share these moments with them?
That means the world to me.
There are a lot of great young Puerto Rican players coming up that will bring a lot of happiness to the fans here. We are all looking forward to the World Baseball Classic next year, where we can play together and represent Puerto Rico.
Family plays a big role in my life. My dad showed me how to have a great work ethic every single day. He would wake up at 4 a.m. and work construction all the way until 6 p.m., and then he would go to the ballpark with me. He made so many sacrifices so that I could succeed.
This year, we asked the manager here to please let us practice at his stadium. He said, “Okay, but you have to let the kids watch you while you practice.” I love that stuff. I love to be able to show the kids how work gets done and how I work every day to get better.