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Mariners' Andrés Muñoz made learning English a priority. He's inspiring kids to do the same.

Adam Jude, The Seattle Times on

Published in Baseball

They met in the summer of 2017 near the bullpen at Gesa Stadium in Pasco, Wash.

Andrés Muñoz was the reluctant student.

Miguel Angel Taboada Catalan was the eager teacher.

They shared a Mexican heritage and a love of baseball. They would soon connect over a shared second language.

At the time, Muñoz was an 18-year-old, flame-throwing pitcher for the Tri-City Dust Devils, and Taboada Catalan can still picture the radar gun readings that flashed on the stadium scoreboard throughout that summer.

Because there was room for only two radar-gun numbers on the board, whenever Muñoz's fastball would reach triple digits, the radar box would simply reveal a "00" or "01" to represent 100 mph or 101 mph.

 

One night, the scoreboard flashed "02" after a Muñoz pitch, and Taboada Catalan couldn't quite fathom what he was seeing.

Seven years later, Taboada Catalan still marvels at what he's seeing when he watches Mariners games on TV.

Muñoz, now 25, is in his fourth season pitching in Seattle. He's turned into one of the most dominant relievers in MLB, making a strong bid for his first All-Star selection this summer.

Beyond that, Taboada Catalan said he's just as impressed with the work Muñoz has put in to learn the English language, so much so that over the past few weeks Muñoz has done two on-field interviews with Jen Mueller, in English, live on ROOT Sports immediately after closing out Mariners victories.

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