HOUSTON -- Alex Cintron, a former infielder who played nine years in the Major Leagues with the D-backs, White Sox, Orioles and Nationals, has been hired by the Astros as the team's Spanish-language interpreter. He will also have some scouting duties in the baseball operations department.
Cintron, a 38-year-old Puerto Rican who last played in the big leagues with Washington in 2009, will travel with the team, general manager Jeff Luhnow said. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed last year that each team has to have a Spanish-language interpreter. Cintron replaces Derek Vigoa, who became baseball operations coordinator this year.
"He brings such a unique perspective having played in the big leagues for so many teams and been in the Minor Leagues and been in so many international competitions, so he's got a lot of experience," Luhnow said. "He'll help out where he can on the baseball operations side of things, but his primary role is to help the Spanish-speaking players do their interviews and provide some translation."
The Astros have seven players on their 25-man roster who were born in Spanish-speaking countries: Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran from Puerto Rico, Michael Feliz and Jandel Gustave from the Dominican Republic, Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez from Venezuela and Yulieski Gurriel from Cuba. Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki also has a full-time translator.
Because the Astros have so many bilingual players, Cintron will handle some duties on the baseball operations side because he won't be needed daily by the media.
"We've decided that if this is a person that's going to travel with the team and be around our club, we've got plenty for them to do on the baseball operations side," Luhnow said. "He'll be helping out with some advance video scouting, some in-person scouting and other tasks we have."
Having a former big league player as an interpreter isn't new. Former Major League pitcher Ariel Prieto is a coach and translator for the D-backs after serving in the same capacity with the A's. Prieto brings the added benefit of being able to throw ambidextrous batting practice, in addition to being bilingual.
"Last year there were a lot of different models that teams used and last year we hired Derek, who played in college but hadn't palyed beyond that, and we had a lot of resumes this year for that position, including several former players," Luhnow said. "It builds that immediate relationship between the players and the current team and the translator and adds some comfort. I think it works."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.