NEW YORK — There isn’t really much country music in Elvis Andrus‘ native land of Venezuela. “Not really,” the Rangers’ budding shortstop said. But here, in the U.S., country music has been Andrus’ key to quickly learning English, which in turn has allowed him to have the kind of calming influence he’s having on his teammates.
“They always told me the best [English] music to try and understand, to learn, is country,” he said in Spanish before Game 3 of this American League Championship Series against the Yankees. “It goes slow, you can really understand the words.”
Andrus (pictured right by The Associated Press) didn’t speak a lick of English when he was signed to an amateur free-agent contract by the Braves in 2005. But thanks to the useful advice of his brother, Erold, who was with the Yankees at the time, Andrus started listening to country music and printing out the lyrics to pick up English quicker. Now, at 22 years old and in his second year in the Majors, he conducts postgame interviews in English with the ease of a 6-4-3 double play, is the ongoing jokester in the clubhouse and …
“I like the music,” Andrus said. “After I started listening and listening a little bit more, getting into it, I was like, ‘Hey, I like this kind of music.’ The lyrics are good, songs are good. So, I started like it.”
“He loves it, man,” outfielder Jeff Francoeur added. “He listens to it on the iPod, he’s got some Rascal Flatts in there. So, I enjoy it because I’m a big country music fan, being from Atlanta.”
Andrus is still young and relatively inexperienced. He hasn’t acted like it on the field in this postseason (here’s a story I did on him about that
), but he does act like it off of it (in a good way).
Andrus will leave his hair long for the sake of winning streaks, he’ll playfully get on teammates if they make a mistake, he’s constantly singing in the clubhouse — “He sings every kind of music there is,” good friend Andres Blanco said in Spanish — and he’s always dancing.
“I can dance to anything,” Andrus said, proudly.
Now, thanks to country music, the Venezuelan shortstop can speak English fluently, too. To Latin players trying to make something of themselves in the big leagues, that’s more important than you think.
“I understood that to get here, and to feel comfortable in here, and speak with everybody, I knew I had to learn that English,” Andrus said. “I have a passion about trying to learn other languages, and I knew I had to learn English. If I was going to be playing here like I’m doing now, I knew that was the language I needed to learn.”
— Alden Gonzalez