Indians reliever Esmil Rogers draws inspiration from late father
Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Before he unleashes heaters to opponents, Cleveland Indians reliever Esmil Rogers takes time to etch his father’s name into the dirt behind the pitching mound in honor of the man who taught him how to play the game and inspired him to persevere amid trying times.
“My dad was everything for me. We were really close. My dad is responsible for everything in my career in baseball,” Rogers said.
Rogers’ father, Danilo, died of colon cancer few days after the conclusion of the 2011 season. He underwent surgery during spring training and assured his son that everything will be fine.
His father’s condition has taken a toll mentally on Esmil as he struggled during the 2011 campaign with the Colorado Rockies, posting a 7.05 ERA in 18 appearances (13 starts) and surrendering 110 hits in 83 innings.
“It’s not just last year. It’s this year, too,” Rogers said. “Everything I do, every time I go to the mound, every time I do something at the stadium, I just think of my dad.”
After his father’s death, Rogers continued to struggle on the mound this season, giving up 23 runs and 36 hits in 25 2/3 innings for an ERA of 8.06 in 23 games.
Rogers’ poor performance prompted the Rockies to designate him for assignment and later deal him to the Indians for $150,000.
“He’s got a great arm,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “That’s why we’re taking a flier on him. It’s about command. He’s just got to cut down his walks and be able to repeat his delivery and get back to it.
“We’re hoping that getting him out of the Colorado ballpark and new surroundings, maybe we can cash in on a very good arm,” Acta added.
Determined to make his father proud, Rogers turned things around in Cleveland. In 37 appearances with the Tribe, he tallied 49 strikeouts in 46 innings as a reliever for a 2.54 ERA.
“Your first opportunity might be your last one,” Rogers said. “You don’t know where you’re going to be. I want to be here.”
“I’m sad that he can’t be here to see what I’m doing right now, but I’m really happy that he’s seeing me from up there,” he added. “I just try to do the best that I can to show my dad and show everybody that I can pitch and I have the talent to be here.”