It took athletic trainer Tomas Vera 20 years to get from winter ball in Venezuela to the big leagues. Today, the 44-year-old enjoys every minute of working for the Reds—and translating for their Spanish-speaking stars.
I always wanted to be around baseball. I had a real passion for the game. I played as a kid.
Down in South America, there are no athletic trainer colleges or schools. You have to come to America, because this career only exists in the United States. It was a big challenge for me to come over.
I’m proud to say I’m the only certified athletic trainer from Venezuela.
I always wanted to be in the big leagues. Being able to speak Spanish with the Latinos and translate to English, it helped me get a position. I love to translate. I feel like I’m helping. My goal is to get the message through both ways, so both sides understand what they’re saying.
I knew that I had to help Aroldis Chapman and help the organization. The head trainer knew that if the media requested to speak with Chapman or any of the Latinos who feel better speaking Spanish, I was going to have to be there.
Baseball is a game played by men who are kids inside. If you don’t have fun working in this environment, you’re going to have a tough time.
Of course losing affects me. We’re part of the team. We’re all together. We spend nine months of the year together.
My favorite part of the job is when someone says he feels a pain, and I’m able to help him relieve that discomfort. When I see him back in the field, I feel great.
I love the regular season. I really do. And I love the playoffs even more. I’m a man of positive thinking. But there are 29 other teams out there that we have to play. You have to do it on the field.
Climbing the Ladder
In 1993, Vera got his first job in the minor league system of the Milwaukee Brewers. He joined the Reds organization in 2006 and was called up to the major leagues for the first time in 2011.
Vera spent the first 20 years of his career in Latin America, North Carolina, Arizona, Montana, and Florida, where he still spends the offseason with his wife and children.
Man of Faith
“Sometimes you deserve to win, and sometimes you don’t. If the baseball gods don’t want things going your way, you have to wait,” Vera says.
Photograph by Jonathan Willis
Originally published in the April 2012 issue.