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Angels' Andrelton Simmons is living in 'both worlds'

Andrelton Simmons is one of the top defensive shortstops in the league. John Cordes/Icon Sportswire

Interviewed in Spanish by Rigo Cervantez / Translated by Rafael Rojas Cremonesi

Andrelton Simmons of the Los Angeles Angels led all American League shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved last season. But the native of Curacao didn't grow up imagining he would be an MLB player.

It was actually two childhood friends who helped start his career when they went to a baseball tryout and told the coaches about Simmons, because the team needed a shortstop.

From Curacao to Western Oklahoma State to MLB, Simmons' baseball journey has exposed him to more than what is on the field.

How did you get started in baseball?

Simmons: A scout went to Curacao, because they were looking for a pitcher and a shortstop. He had already heard about me and he saw me play for just a couple of innings -- he saw something in me that convinced him. Because, frankly, I hadn't really done a lot. I had a hit and caught a couple of balls, a grounder and a fly out. But there was something he liked about me. He said I just needed a bit of work, but that's how it all started.

What impressed you the most about MLB clubhouses?

Simmons: It's different, everything here is more quiet, more peaceful. They let you play. In Curacao, everyone is yelling, cheering. There's a louder atmosphere there.

I'm still getting used to it. Some ballplayers, such as the Cuban ones, are always yelling, whistling, cheering on the pitcher on every throw he makes.

What are the biggest cultural differences?

Simmons: I was so used to eating at home back in Curacao. Here, it's so different. Whenever I had the chance, I preferred cooking my own meals because otherwise I was always buying McDonald's, because I couldn't afford anything else. I had to eat cheeseburgers.

I wasn't eating right then. During the weekends, I was able to cook and eat better meals.

How long did it take you to adapt to life in the U.S.?

Simmons: When I went to college, my freshman year was so tough. I spent half a year without playing, I was all alone, and for the first time ever, I was away from my family. During my sophomore year, I had made a few friends and, when I went to play in Oklahoma, there were plenty of Latin guys, Dominicans especially. That helped a lot, because I hung out with them and I felt more at home.

Is baseball's code different here?

Simmons: Baseball is the same no matter where it's played. The only difference is that in my country, when you play, people yell, talk a lot, taunt players in order to provoke them. Here, things are more quiet -- that's the only difference I've felt whenever I play.

What do you think of the recent [comments] from Donald Trump toward immigrants?

Simmons: I don't like to express my views on those subjects when it comes to politics because then you get in trouble. Latinos already know how he sees them. I consider myself Latino and that's why I see it hard for me that I could support him.

Are you fully submerged into American culture and life, or are you still grounded into your culture?

Simmons: I try to live between both cultures. My wife is Mexican, but she was born here. She has American customs and I have mine, from Curacao. As a consequence, I live in both worlds.

How do you invest the money you earn as a player?

Simmons: My wife keeps it all [said jokingly before his tone became serious]. I try to help my country, Curacao, my family and also I get involved with baseball awareness programs. Because those programs helped me a lot and I consider that, if youngsters are supported and encouraged into getting involved in sports, with all the talent in Latin America, that can help a lot.