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The Cincinnati Reds’ translator does more than you might think

Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Alexis Diaz (left) says Reds Translator Jorge Merlos (right) is the best, "helping me out with interviews and checking up on me."
Ann Thompson
Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Alexis Diaz (left) says Reds translator Jorge Merlos (right) is the best, "helping me out with interviews and checking up on me."

Jorge Merlos not only translates inside the ball park, but also on car lots.

Jorge Merlos is extremely unassuming, but his smile lights up the field at Great American Ball Park. The translator for the Cincinnati Reds is in his fourth season helping Latin players communicate.

"It's not even like work," says Merlos. "It's just coming to the ball park and being part of this team that gives me joy because everyone in the clubhouse is smiling all the time. And whether it's a good day or bad day, everyone knows that they're out there going to a baseball field and just playing the game."

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This season, Merlos has translated for between three and five players. They include infielders Elly De La Cruz and Noelvi Marte, as well as pitcher Alexis Diaz. But the translator isn’t just on duty at the ball park. He does other things, like helping them buy a car.

“You do interesting things when you’re on the job as a translator, because you’re there to help them out, and because you want them to be focused on baseball,” he says.

Diaz says he likes Merlos. “He’s just really checking up on me with everything I do. So, I’m fortunate to have him with me.”

The pitcher wasn’t aware until recently that Merlos had a spreadsheet with different dialects so he can keep track of all of them. “No, no, no, I didn’t know that up until now. But I’m going to ask him to send me that file so I can see all the things that we’ve said over the years and check up and see if those are right.”

Merlos learned Spanish as a child. His parents left El Salvador to escape the civil war and his grandmother told him she was not going to learn English so he would have to learn Spanish.

He says he’s gotten better at translating for players. “There are definitely some guys that talk a little bit longer. But the good news is that you can kind of condense what they say because it’s kind of repetitive and they’re trying to think of more things to say at the same time. So sometimes you get what they say at first and you don’t have to say it again.”

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When Merlos isn’t translating for players at Great American, he’s taking pictures and videos and uploading them as part of the media relations team.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.