Confident Estevez proving unflappable

Confident Estevez proving unflappable

DENVER -- Rockies righty reliever Carlos Estevez faced a situation Friday that could've tested his resolve.

Estevez entered in the seventh with the Rockies leading the Dodgers, 2-1, after lefty starter Kyle Freeland's successful six innings. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had saved dangerous left-handed bats. But facing Corey Seager or, two batters later, Andrew Toles wasn't going to get into Estevez's head.

Estevez's mind was buoyed by the story of Apple founder Steve Jobs. He was strengthened by learning of the successes and failures of future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. A Dominican Republic native, Estevez also takes the mound with inspirational knowledge in his native tongue, thanks to Borja Luzuriaga and his popular YouTube series, "LuzuVlogs: El Camino del Exito," or "the walk of success."

"I love motivational books and videos," said Estevez, who gave up a hit to Seager and committed a one-out balk, but put the inning down with no runs, and was part of the 2-1 victory. "I love stories of people who have had to go through tough times."

Many athletes embrace inspiration and psychology. But players from Latin America who don't have English backgrounds can miss out. Estevez, 24, makes sure he gets all that's available.

"My parents always taught me that when you move up, a lot of things change, and you've got to be receptive to learning whatever can help you," said Estevez, who spent his junior year of high school in West Virginia and learned English.

Last spring, before he rose to the Majors and ended up the team's closer for a period despite limited experience above Double-A, Josh Rosenthal, the rockies' supervisor of cultural education development, offered a book where motivation meets fiction: "The Traveler's Gift," by Andy Andrews.

"The last two weeks of spring, I just started reading and I couldn't stop," he said. "The lesson was sometimes we take everything for granted. But if you stop working, you're going to lose all of it. And if you have nothing, just don't give up."

His motivational mentor is Rockies first-base coach Tony Diaz, who managed him at Rookie Grand Junction in 2013. When Estevez graduated to Class A, an injury led to a slump, which led to a text from Diaz.

"It was something that Mariano said -- that even the best in the game have their failure," Estevez said, smiling.

During his 17 seasons in the Rockies' Minor League system, Diaz recognized the language gap for Latino players when it came to psychological and inspirational material and bridged the gap, even when they no longer played for him.

"We talk about it all the time, that to be great you've got to have a consistent thought process," Diaz said of Estevez, who was clocked at greater than 100 mph on his fastball several times last year. "He's understands the value of it and knows that you can throw 100, you can throw 110, but you need your mental fortitude."

Worth noting

• Rockies lefty Chris Rusin could be back from his right oblique injury soon. Manager Bud Black said the Rockies will decide "in the next 24-48 hours, whether he continues on a rehab or not." Rusin threw an effective 42 pitches over 2 2/3 innings of relief Thursday for Triple-A Albuquerque.

• Righty Chad Qualls (right forearm soreness), who last pitched on March 1 in Spring Training, faced hitters Saturday at Coors. "It looks as though his stuff is Chad Qualls-like -- good sinker, hard slider and a change," said Black, who said Qualls will begin a rehab assignment soon.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.