ST. LOUIS -- The most significant hurdle for Audry Perez hasn't been at the plate or even behind it as the rookie catcher adjusts to his first stint in the big leagues -- it's been English.
The 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic is making strides at breaking down the language barrier that stands between him and a predominantly English-speaking pitching staff.
"It's so important to be on the same page," said Perez, who practices his second language with teammates in the bullpen like he often did with Triple-A Memphis.
Perez took English classes when he was playing for Double-A Springfield, and manager Mike Matheny said Perez and other Spanish-speaking players like Carlos Martinez work with the teaching software Rosetta Stone almost daily.
"It's tough for them as they're in here listening to the meetings and they're trying to understand the language while they're also trying to comprehend what a game plan might be," Matheny said, noting the importance of also having two bilingual and experienced catchers in Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz.
"For Audry, I think it's going to be more gaining confidence of his staff. ... You better be able to communicate in a way that shows you know what you're talking about and that you listen and you can hear what they're trying to do and be able to comprehend and make the adjustments on the fly."
With his language skills improving daily, Perez is eager to put those skills to use as he awaits his Major League debut.
"I stay ready," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen, maybe for an at-bat or defense. I'm ready."
"He's showed up here just bright eyed and bushy tailed," Matheny said. "He's sprinting back and forth and catching every bullpen. He hasn't stopped smiling since he's been here. It's just a great reward for a kid that's put in the work."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less