First of all, I need to thank God for allowing me to reach my dream, the dream of my family: That is, being part of the best baseball league in the world; for giving me the opportunity to show every day what I’m capable of, thanks to the abilities given to me by him; and for being in an organization like the White Sox that has allowed me to be surrounded by so many good people that have helped me during the process this season.
Truth is, things haven’t been as easy as a lot of people might think. But they haven’t been too tough, either. The key, like I’ve always said, is to keep on working, enjoy the things you are capable of doing, and never settle for less.
Back when I was a kid and started playing baseball, my father always advised me that I had to be devoted in order to be good, to become whoever I wanted to be I had to work real hard every single day. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
That advice from my father, who is also named Jose, is like a Holy Scripture to me. I work intensely every day, to be prepared for every single game.
When I played with Cienfuegos or with the Cuban national team, I worked nonstop. Did it every day, even when I had a long trip ahead, traveling by guagua (bus), to every city in our schedule.
When I arrived in this country, my daily preparation became easier, because of all the training facilities that exist. In my first days here, I kept on working, preparing myself so I wouldn’t waste this new opportunity that the Lord gave me, to pay the team back for the trust they gave me, and to honor all the efforts and sacrifices made by my family.
Taking advantage of all the benefits that I’ve bumped into since I arrived in the big leagues has been an easy task, same thing as being able to keep my focus about the work I have to do, about all the positive things that have happened to me, and everything I’ve achieved in this time. Honestly, I never thought I could achieve all these things, like being Player of the Month, Rookie of the Month, an All-Star, but that’s what God has chosen for me, and I accept that in a humble way.
But like I said, despite having all these great things, I haven’t lost my focus, because I always remember another piece of advice from my father: “You must have a plan for everything you want to achieve. You must stick to that plan and work on it, so things can happen." And it’s been like that. I’ve always stuck to my plan, where hard work is everything.
I have met some great people that have helped me to improve all the resources in my work and preparation, people with great experience that have been gracious enough to provide some advice, and have also allowed me to use some of their examples.
Paul Konerko -- who unfortunately will retire after this season -- and Adam Dunn have been two key people that have guided me in this transition process.
From Konerko, I’ve learned how to take advantage of all the pitching analysis that is available, although I must confess that I’m not the type of guy who likes to read too much of that, since I’ve got my own method to analyze pitchers. But it’s a tool that we have, and eventually, it can help.
Both Konerko and Dunn have helped me to stay relaxed, to avoid feeling pressured when things don’t go my way, to avoid the frustration after failing to achieve something that I think I could have done easily.
Dunn is always looking for different ways to keep the team in good spirits, so we cannot lose the battle against pressure. I still laugh every time I see Phil, the toy chimp he’s got in his locker. There was one time when he brought a toy bird that made a very weird noise. The first time I heard that bird, it really scared me a lot. Now, I just laugh.
The way Konerko and Dunn handle every situation helps the team. It has helped me to control the different scenarios that might happen at this level, both on the field and inside the clubhouse.
I think that both Konerko and Dunn have provided examples that have helped me to complement my plan, the very same plan taught by my father that has been improved. I hope to be able to follow their examples, and continue to take advantage of every single opportunity, as long as the Lord allows me to do so.
And now we return to Buster's regularly scheduled news and notes ...