Jorge López, New York Mets
Jorge López played in 28 games for the Mets as a reliever this season; the 2022 All-Star has played for six different teams in his nine-year career in MLB Gordon Donovan/Via

SEATTLE - A week after right-handed pitcher Jorge López was ejected from a game after a heated exchange with the third base umpire, the New York Mets officially announced that López had been released from the club.

López was previously designated for assignment after the ejection incident but things got worse for the Puerto Rican when, talking to media members after the game, one of his quotes was misinterpreted and went viral.

According to first reports, López called the Mets "the worst team in probably the whole (expletive) MLB," but then later clarified that the quote had been wrongly translated, as he actually meant "I think I been looking (like) the worst teammate probably in the whole (expletive) MLB."

López, a nine-year MLB veteran, had to go on social media to clarify his remarks and, although it hasn't been confirmed that the quote was the thing that ended up costing him his job with the Mets, it does raises the question of how important interpreters are for international players all across Major League Baseball.

"During that interview, I spoke candidly about my frustrations with my personal performance and how I felt it made me 'the worst teammate in the entire league,'" López said on Instagram. "Unfortunately, my efforts to address the media in English created some confusion and generated headlines that do not reflect what I was trying to express."

Since 2016, all MLB teams are required to have at least two full-time Spanish language interpreters as part of the team. This fairly new rule ensures that all native Spanish-speaking players can express themselves in a free and accurate manner when talking to media members.

With more than 30% of MLB players coming from Spanish-speaking countries such as Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the role of an interpreter is just as important as any other job within an MLB organization. And that's not a problem that solely affects Latinos, it impacts all international players. Roughly a dozen Asian players in the majors require an interpreter, such as Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani.

Just a few weeks ago, Ohtani's interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was the talk of the whole baseball world after being accused of wiring nearly $17 million from Ohtani's bank account to pay off gambling debts with an offshore bookmaker.

In an interview with The Athletic in 2023, Mizuhara revealed that speaking "is only about 10 percent of the job" for an interpreter. According to various interpreters, their job is to be a bridge for the player between baseball and their personal matters such as housing, doctor appointments and even managing social media accounts.

Going back to López, his agent Edwin Rodríguez told The Athletic and Puerto Rico'sEl Nuevo Día that the situation could've been avoided with better practices from the PR teams.

Rodríguez also said that the Mets offered him an interpreter, but López declined because he never used one in the past. Looking back into it, the player's agent acknowledged that was a bad decision and said that "he would've instructed him to use the club's translator."

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