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Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado embraces Cuban roots, meals

Nolan Arenado defined by defensive excellence

HOUSTON – Although Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, he still utilizes his Cuban culture any time he has the chance.

Nolan Arenado has family in Miami, California and Cuba. His father Fernando Arenado was born in Cuba and fled to the United States. His mother Millie Arenado, who was born in Queens, N.Y., is of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent.

Nolan Arenado will eat Cuban dishes as much as possible. He especially likes ropa vieja, a meal of shredded beef, and bistec empanizado, which is breaded steak.  

“It’s a big deal to me,” Arenado said of his Cuban roots. “It’s something I take a lot of pride in and I really appreciate the support that I get from everyone. 

“When I first got called up to the big leagues it was really cool. Obviously, a lot of family came around, but there were a lot of people that knew my dad, or knew my abuelo who passed away. So it was kind of cool how it came full circle.”

Nolan Arenado credits parents

Baseball was an essential sport for the Arenado family. 

At a young age, Millie would roll baseballs down their driveway for Nolan to field. Later, Nolan started to play Wiffle ball with his brothers and cousins in the backyard.

Baseball continuously carried on with Arenado all the way to El Toro High School. The Newport Beach, Calif., native played varsity baseball with four-time Gold Glover Matt Chapman and former catcher Austin Romine.

There were 192 high school baseball players drafted out of the 2009 MLB Draft.

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Arenado was one those young adolescents drafted out of high school by the Colorado Rockies. The former second rounder’s plan was never to go to college. It was strictly just baseball.

“I was fortunate to get that opportunity and sign a decent signing bonus in the second round,” he says. “Those were things I was appreciative of.

“It wasn’t easy at first obviously being away at that age. But I really did enjoy it, and I’m glad I made that decision.”

Arenado played eight seasons with the Rockies from 2013-2020. During his time with the Rockies, Arenado earned seven Gold Gloves, five All-Star appearances,  and four Silver Sluggers. Moreover, he finished third in the 2018 National League MVP voting to Christian Yelich and Javier Baez.

The Cuban American was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021. He is now playing in his fourth year with the Redbirds.

Gold Glove collector

He carried his Gold Glove streak to 10 consecutive seasons winning the prestigious defensive award. The eight-time All-Star tied Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt for the second most Gold Gloves earned by a third baseman. Nevertheless, Arenado still trails the late great Brooks Robinson with 16 Gold Gloves.

Arenado, 33, realizes there’s still room to grow in this game, regardless of how many Gold Gloves he possesses on his resume.

“Obviously it’s not easy as you get older,” Arenado said. “But I still feel very good, and I do take a lot of pride in it. It’s something I want to continue to get better at it, and I still feel that there’s room to grow.

“I always feel that way. Once you win one Gold Glove or two or whatever you feel like there’s a standard that you set that you have to keep up with. That’s always my goal.”

Rookie Masyn Winn stands on the left side of the infield with Arenado. The 21-year-old shortstop is smooth defensively like Arenado, but with a rocket of an arm. 

The former top prospect has a strong ambition to win a Gold Glove in the near future. Winn doesn’t take this opportunity to share the field with a six-time Platinum Glove winner for granted.

“Obviously, he’s got crazy pedigrees,” Winn said of Arenado. “He’s been great for a long time. It’s just great watching him work day in and day out trying to get better. Him at third base and me at shortstop, it’s a nice little combo over there.”

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