New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is well known for communicating through an interpreter. According to Brad Lefton of The Wall Street Journal, Ichiro talks a pretty good game when he's on the field… in Spanish.
When you think of the game's great trash talkers, Ichiro might be the last guy that comes to mind. Suzuki rarely speaks English in public, but he talks trash on the base paths, without an interpreter. Through the years Suzuki has learned some Spanish and uses it to "trash talk' on the field.
According to Lefton, veteran first baseman Carlos Pena remembered one of the many encounters he has had with Ichiro. While Pena was playing for the Tampa Rays, Ichiro reached first and asked Pena, "Que cono tu mira?," which translated means, "What the hell are you looking at?," Pena admitted that he had to bite his lip to stop from laughing.
The usually stoic Suzuki takes pride in "talking'' it up with fellow players, especially with Latin players. "I feel a bond with them," Suzuki said. "We're all foreigners in a strange land. We've come over here and had to cope with some of the same trials and tribulations. When I throw a little Spanish out at them, they really seem to appreciate it and it seems to strengthen that bond."
"And besides we don't really have curse words in Japanese, so I like the fact that Western languages let me say things I otherwise can't."
Although he doesn't speak fluently, Suzuki has a knack for picking up phrases and speaking perfect Spanish. "He's really observant, really smart guy and he can pick up Spanish pretty quickly," said former teammate Raul Ibanez. "Everything he does, he tries to do it perfect, right? So it only makes sense that he would do that when he's trying to speak Spanish."
A couple of years back, the Detroit Tigers were playing the Yankees. During warm ups, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera shouted "feo" across the field at Suzuki. Ichiro laughed as he understood that he was just called "ugly" by his longtime friend. Ichiro responded with a repertoire of various curse words in Spanish, that unfortunately can not be quoted.
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