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What Carlos Estévez’s minor league host family meant to the Angels closer



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Carlos Estévez was 20 when the Rockies group despatched him to Grand Junction, Colo.

This was in 2013 and Estévez, now a fan-favorite Angels nearer with 12 saves, on the time was navigating the early years of his skilled profession. He’d spent the earlier two years within the Dominican Summer time League, then was despatched to Tri-Metropolis, previously a Rockies affiliate, however was there only a few days earlier than being moved to Colorado.

“I simply confirmed up,” Estévez recalled. “I didn’t have a bunch household, I didn’t have [housing]. However one in every of my teammates instructed me ‘they’re searching for somebody to stick with them.’ And I used to be like, ‘nicely, I feel that’s the place I’m going.’”

The identical day Estévez arrived in Grand Junction, he was launched to Stephanie and Bruce Hagen, and Josh Hays, their youngest little one (in addition they have a daughter, who on the time was away in school). Estévez spent solely a couple of 12 months with the Hagens, however fashioned such a robust reference to them that when he was set to make his main league debut in 2016 in Denver, a four-hour drive from Grand Junction, he known as to verify they might be there.

“‘Sure, in fact we’re coming. When is it?’” Stephanie recalled the dialog. “‘At the moment? Oh, OK.’ He goes, ‘I’ll have tickets for you.’ ” The Hagens are wanting ahead to seeing Estévez once more this season, when he and the Angels head to Colorado for a collection in June.

Forming this sort of connection between a participant and followers was, in essence, meant to be the most effective a part of the host household program whereas offering a house away from house for gamers who couldn’t afford their very own resort room or condominium.

Carlos Estévez, left, and Stephanie Hagen. Estévez spent about a year living with the Hagen family.

Carlos Estévez, left, and Stephanie Hagen. Estévez spent a couple of 12 months residing with the Hagen household whereas taking part in in Grand Junction, Colo., within the Rockies’ farm system.

(Stephanie Hagen)

Minor league gamers unionized beneath the Main League Baseball Gamers Assn. umbrella and ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with crew homeowners in March, which assured housing and elevated pay, amongst different advantages. With that new CBA, host households are now not permitted.

“Whereas gamers are sincerely appreciative of the various followers who hosted gamers of their houses, they’re excited this spring in regards to the first minor league CBA, together with wage and housing coverage enhancements that made the apply pointless,” the gamers union mentioned in an announcement.

The host household program wasn’t an ideal system. Estévez’s expertise was not the identical for each different minor leaguer throughout the nation. Estévez was like household to the Hagens, who drove him round to the place he wanted to get to or allowed him use of the household automobile after they couldn’t.

Carlos Estévez, left, smiles while posing with Josh Hays for a photo during a minor-league game.

Carlos Estévez, left, smiles whereas posing with Josh Hays for a photograph throughout a minor-league recreation.

(Stephanie Hagen)

“They actually helped loads,” Estévez recalled. “As quickly as I received there they had been like, ‘Hey, no matter you want simply tell us.’… If I didn’t have that good stage of consolation, I don’t understand how I used to be going to do in rookie ball. And I did actually good.”

Estévez, who’s from Dominican Republic, additionally mentioned that residing with the Hagens helped give his mom peace of thoughts, realizing he was in place despite the fact that he was so removed from house.

Minor league baseball’s host households had been volunteers, who acquired a perk of season tickets or discounted tickets and merchandise fromthe minor league crew. The fundamental necessities of being a bunch beforehand stipulated that households simply have a spot for gamers to sleep, with no guidelines about residing situations.

The Hagens started internet hosting gamers in 2011 with Grand Junction earlier than that crew misplaced its Rockies affiliation after the 2019 season when MLB restructured the minor leagues. They mentioned they turned a bunch household for the chance to introduce their son to folks from completely different nations and cultures. They remained a bunch household with the Grand Junction crew when it transitioned to an impartial league not beneath the brand new CBA.

However Stephanie recalled house inspections beginning solely after 2013, the results of a report {that a} participant with one other household spent a season residing in a kitchen.

“They didn’t vet folks in addition to they may have and so they noticed some issues,” Stephanie mentioned

Regardless of the optimistic expertise for the Hagens and Estévez, they’re unsurprised by this system being phased out

The Rockies' Carlos Estevez, right, and Nick Hundley celebrate a win in 2016, the year Estevez made his MLB debut.

The Rockies’ Carlos Estévez, proper, and Nick Hundley rejoice a 7-3 win over the Giants in 2016, the 12 months Estévez made his MLB debut.

(Ben Margot / Related Press)

“It could go both means,” Estévez mentioned. “A few of the guys [for example] that did have a bunch household, they didn’t have a automobile for them and the home was far. … Now that the groups are paying for [housing], it’s going to be effective.

“However we’re going to be lacking that [opportunity] for folks to get nearer.”