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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball’s Cesar Salazar aims for opening day roster spot

Arizona+catcher+Cesar+Salazar+%2812%29+sits+behind+home+plate+on+day+two+of+the+Wild+vs.+Cats+World+Series+on+Nov.+20%2C+2015.
Emily Gauci/Arizona Athletics
Arizona catcher Cesar Salazar (12) sits behind home plate on day two of the Wild vs. Cats World Series on Nov. 20, 2015.

Three years ago, Cesar Salazar was a new student at Sahuaro High School who couldn’t speak English and was stripped of playing time because of eligibility reasons. Now he has a chance to be the opening-day starting catcher for the Arizona baseball team as a true freshman.

Salazar moved to Tucson three years ago after living in Hermosillo, Mexico, for the first 16 years of his life. Salazar’s transition from Mexico to the United States was imaginably a difficult one, but he said his comfort level began to rise with the help of time and baseball.

“My first year was really tough, knowing no English, not being able to have a long conversation with somebody,” Salazar said. “The start of my second year I started getting more confident. Baseball started being a huge part of that confidence building.”

Salazar certainly has reason to feel confident when it comes to baseball. He has been playing for the majority of his life in Mexico, where it’s common for players to compete against members who are older than them.

“It’s different over there,” Salazar said. “When you are 14 to 15 years old, you are playing against guys that are like 20 to 21.”

Although Salazar has been playing baseball since he was 9 years old, his high school baseball experience in the United States was rather peculiar. Salazar was unable to play his sophomore and junior seasons because of eligibility purposes with the Arizona Interscholastic Association, which limited him to 18 games during his senior season.

Salazar made the most of his 18 game high school career to say the least as he put up robust numbers across the board. Salazar hit an unthinkable .613 in 62 at-bats with 16 RBIs and four home runs. Salazar’s performance in the 18 games he played in high school, along with his tireless work ethic, attracted the attention of the Arizona baseball program. Less than a year later, he’s in a position to play a key role for the Wildcats’ upcoming season.

Salazar does not attribute his success to any natural ability. In fact, Salazar does not believe he possesses any natural born talent whatsoever.

“I don’t consider myself a talented kid. I don’t consider myself a gifted athlete,” Salazar said. “I consider myself a hard worker and everything I’ve achieved I think is because of my work ethic.”

It’s easy to believe Salazar’s claim given that it took him only a year to learn English and only 18 high school games to earn a spot on the Arizona baseball team.

As if anyone wasn’t convinced how much of a workhorse Salazar is, he responded to the question of things he needed to work on prior to the start of the season with, “I believe I need to work on everything.”

Heading into the season, Salazar made it clear that he has a team-first mentality and is willing to do whatever is asked of him to help his team reach its ultimate goal.

“I just want to help coach [Jay] Johnson win. I want to help this team go to the NCAA tournament,” Salazar said. “My goal is to play in Omaha and win it all.”

The road to Omaha, Nebraska, for Salazar and the rest of the Wildcats begins Friday when Arizona plays at Rice University.


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