- Solarte's uncle is former big leaguer Roger Cedeno. During 2014 spring training, Carlos Beltran provided a bit of mentoring, giving the youngster the same advice that Cedeño, gives him: Continue to work hard.
“He’s a good, talented player, you can see it,” Beltran said. “To me, he’s a true switch-hitter, a guy who can do some damage from both sides of the plate. I think he has the tools to play at this level, and you can see him fighting for the opportunity. He comes early, goes to the weight room, and works hard. I tell him to keep doing that, keep letting everyone know that you want to be here, that you want to work, that you have a good attitude. And he listens.” (3/13/14)
Yangervis works hard at the game, working at all aspects.
More than 20 years later, his aunts and uncles still talk about the way Yangervis Solarte cried the day he watched his uncle get on that plane.
Solarte was not yet 4. As his uncle walked onto the tarmac toward his dream of becoming a Major League baseball player, he looked back and saw Yangervis in the window of the terminal. His mouth was open and his tears were flowing. The uncle, Roger Cedeno, found out later from his sister, Vilma, that their nephew cried for hours.
“We were talking about that story three weeks ago,” Cedeno said by phone from Venezuela. “She never saw a baby cry that long.”
Cedeno, who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 3, 1991, was 16 and on his way to their academy in the Dominican Republic. An 11-year Major League career was in the offing, but little Yangervis did not care. He worshiped his uncle.
He still does. Now a Major Leaguer himself, Solarte talks to his uncle on the phone every day. Solarte used to live in the house Cedeno provided for the family, with his parents, Gervis and Yanmili, and more than a dozen other relatives. Solarte and Cedeno work together in the offseason, with Cedeno stressing the game’s mental aspects because his nephew’s physical skills are a gift.
The Solarte family in Valencia, Venezuela, included a daughter and four sons. Gervis was the oldest boy; Roger was the youngest. When Roger was a month old, their father—Yangervis’s paternal grandfather—walked out on the family, Cedeno said. The older brothers kept the surname Solarte, but Cedeno chose his mother’s surname because she had raised him.
Most of the extended family lived in the mother’s house, and Cedeno and Solarte were always close. Cedeno was more of an older brother and mentor to Solarte, and doted on him.
“I was one of his favorites because I was the oldest nephew,” Solarte said through an interpreter. “I was always a class apart for everyone in how he treated me. Since I’ve been a kid, he’s been an inspiration.”
When Cedeno’s father left — they have recently reconciled, Cedeno said, and are developing a relationship — his mother and brothers worked hard to support the family. But Cedeno’s baseball earnings totaled more than $29 million, and he shared much of it with his family, Solarte said.
“He took care of us better than anyone else,” Solarte said. “With family, he’s the best.”
Years earlier, Solarte was watching Cedeno on television. Now their roles are reversed. Cedeno recalled driving Solarte to his first day of rookie ball in Fort Myers, Fla., in 2007. He accompanied Solarte to his hotel, hugged him, and returned to his car for the drive back to Miami. Later, Cedeno called his brother Gervis and asked, “Was I that young when I went away?”
But for several minutes, Cedeno said, he just sat in the car, overcome by the moment and the memories, especially of his first days in professional baseball in 1991, after he left his crying nephew behind in an airport terminal.
“It was like a movie in my mind,” Cedeno said. “It was all coming back to me, everything: the academy in the Dominican, the Dodgers, the Mets, my family. It happened for me, and now Yangervis. I just sat there in my car crying. I couldn’t stop crying.” (David Waldstein - April
Solarte overcame some of his early frustrations and immaturity, and finally made it to the Majors in April 2014, at age 26.
"He's certainly playing above our expectations, and we'll ride that as long as we can," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said early in the 2014 season. "Maybe he becomes a player that moves into a new category, but you have to give it time. We're certainly happy and pleasantly surprised by what he's provided."
It took nine years for Solarte to get that chance—seven in the Twins' Minor League organization, and two stashed at Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers' system. "I was told that I was going to be brought up to the Majors, but it never happened. I feel they kind of misled me," Solarte said through an interpreter.
Solarte was frustrated. He said that he had even looked into an Arlington apartment rental for September. But the Yankees were watching from afar. When they summoned their scouts, decision-makers and number-crunchers to New York for a roundtable discussion in October, assistant general manager Billy Eppler said that Solarte's name came up numerous times. According to Eppler, scout Jay Darnell spoke up in favor of pursuing Solarte. So did Don Wakamatsu, who is now the Royals' bench coach, as well as scout David Keith. Michael Fishman, the team's director of quantitative analysis, also saw Solarte's numbers pop in his data searches.
Solarte saidthat he fielded calls from 13 clubs over the winter, but the Yanks were persistent. "I had a lot of teams that were interested in me, but even before the World Series ended, the Yankees were one of the teams that were after me," Solarte said.
"There are late bloomers," Joe Girardi said. "It's a short sample, I understand that, but it seems like the kid has an idea of what he's doing. Sometimes you wonder how a guy doesn't get an opportunity." (Hoch - mlb.com - 4/21/14)
Solarte endeavors to savor every big league moment.
"Every time I cross the foul line I just want to have as much fun as possible," commented Solarte. "Especially with my family and my team out here on the field. Even when I'm playing poorly, I try to turn it into a positive no matter what. I've been able to play more in 2015, too, so that helps me with being more comfortable out on the field." Solarte finished on that note by saying that "The additional at-bats and extra playing time has really helped." (Padres - mlb.com - 8/23/15)
September 17, 2016: Yangervis' wife, Yuliette Solarte lost her battle with cancer. She was 31, leaving behind their three daughters. "Simply thank you for all your support. The truth is I have no word to describe this. We had a tough year but I know that she fought," Solarte posted in Spanish on Twitter.
On every one of Adam Rosales home runs in 2016, he has sprinted around the bases and through home plate. But on an emotional afternoon at Coors Field, Rosales changed things up, as he honored teammate Yangervis Solarte, whose wife died on September 17, 2016.
Rosales crushed a second-inning offering from Rockies starter Chad Bettis into the left-field seats. When he crossed the plate, he slowed down and executed a pronounced overhand clap with his right hand—Solarte's trademarked celebration.
Solarte's wife, Yuliett, passed away after complications from her battle with cancer. She was 31.
"Right when I hit it, I knew it was gone," Rosales said. "I went around first base, I thought about Yuliett and [Yangervis] the whole time. It was just a tribute. I feel like it would mean a lot to Solarte to know how much he means to us, how much his family means to the San Diego Padres."
Rosales said a few of the Padres hitters had talked before the game about honoring Solarte with the gesture if they hit a home run. "We miss Solarte right now, and our hearts definitely go out to him and his family," Rosales said. "… I don't hit too many home runs, but I was happy that I was able to do that and acknowledge the Solarte family."
Solarte had left the team to fly back to his home in Florida to be with Yuliett and their three daughters.
"Everybody's heart breaks for him right now," Padres manager Andy Green said. "There's nothing that replaces a wife and a mother. All we can do is love him and support him." The Rockies also honored Yuliett with a moment of silence before the game began. (Cassavell - MLB.com - 9/18/16)
January 2017: Solarte committed to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
On the anniversary of his wife's taking her last breath in this life, Solarte said he'd been thinking about the anniversary of his wife's passing for several days as it approached, and he credited "God's strength" with getting him through the day.
Solarte said. "It's a reminder to be strong, be happy. I always say, 'Be yourself and transfer happiness. Be a happy person and be that type of teammate and things will happen.'"
His teammates couldn't have asked for more, in the clubhouse or on the field. "It's hard for us to watch him playing," starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin said. "Today, he hit a homer and he was pointing to the sky, to his wife. You have to appreciate the way he played today."
"I knew I'd made good contact, and I knew it was gone, so I was just running, and I was overcome with a lot of emotion," Solarte said. "I almost cried right there. A lot of mixed emotions. Happiness and sadness and everything all in one in a moment like that, thinking about my daughters. It was a special moment."
Along with the "extra muscle" that drove the ball over the left-field fence, Solarte offered an extra salute to the sky as he approached home plate. "I did that for my wife," he said. (Perkins - mlb.com - 9/17/17)
June 2005: Solarte signed with the Twins as a free agent.
November 2, 2011: Solarte was granted free agency by the Twins.
November 30, 2011: Yangervis signed with the Rangers organization.
November 5, 2013: Solarte became a free agent.
January 14, 2014: Yangervis signed with the Yankees organization.
July 22, 2014: The Padres sent Chase Headley to the Yankees, acquiring Solarte and P Rafael De Paula.
- Jan 13, 2017: Solarte and the Padres signed a two-year contract extension, which also includes club options for 2019 and 2020.
|DOB:||7/7/1987||Agent:||Rick THurman - Bev. Hills Sports Coun.|
|Birth City:||Valencia, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2005 - Twins - Free agent|
- Solarte is a switch-hitter with decent pop—enough for 10-15 homers per season.
- Yangervis has a good eye at the plate, draws some walks, and always posts a good on-base percentage.
May 28, 2016: Solarte homered from both sides of the plate. With one out in the fifth, Solarte launched a solo dinger from the right side, deep into the left-field seats. An inning later, as a lefthanded hitter, he golfed a down-and-in changeup inside the right-field foul pole at Chase Field.
In doing so, Solarte became the sixth Padres hitter to go deep from both batters boxes in the same game. He joined Ken Caminiti, who did so eight times, along with Chase Headley (twice), Yasmani Grandal, Milton Bradley and Geoff Blum.
- As of the start of the 2017 season, Solarte had a career batting average of .271 with 39 home runs and 182 RBI in 1,400 at-bats.
- Yangervis can play anywhere in the infield, as well as left field. So he gives a team plenty of options.
- In July 2014, Solarte was acquired from the Yankees then-assistant General Manager A.J. Hinch in the deal for Chase Headley. Following the trade, he hit .267 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 56 games and showed plus-defense at third base and the ability to play some shortstop.
Spring 2015: "I can play everywhere," said Solarte, who embraces the versatile bench role. The Padres switch-hitter had spring starts at second, third, and first.
Late in spring camp, Solarte's clubhouse locker was cluttered chaos. Bats, batting gloves, and workout gear were stuffed into every nook and cranny, mostly because the storage area above the locker was already spoken for.
That's where Solarte's kept his gloves—all eight of them. Some he used for third base, some for second base. The first base glove, well, that speaks for itself. If he bounces to the outfield, he's got a glove for that. There's a smaller glove for shortstop, too.
"I've used all of them," he said, smiling.
Chances are, that might hold true during the regular season, as the team appears to be grooming him for a super-utility role that comes with one major caveat—they still almost think of him as a regular. (C. Bock -MLB.com - March 27, 2015)
April 9-May 21, 2016: Solarte was on the D.L. for the first time in his career. He had a strained right hamstring.
- June 21-30, 2017: Solarte was on the DL with strained left oblique.