TAMPA, Fl. — From the Central American country of Nicaragua, New York Yankees reliever Jonathan Stanley Loáisiga feels the weight of responsibility resting on his 5’11” frame. This responsibility has latched itself onto the 27-year-old right-handed pitcher and was channeled by the realization that he is the sole Nicaraguan player on a Major League Baseball roster in 2022.
“Unfortunately, I’m the only one right now. I wish there were plenty more,” Loáisiga said through Yankees translator Marlon Abreu. “It’s an honor to be the only one right now and understand that everybody back home is watching, so I try to do the best I can try to give everything I have out there.”
Tucked 37 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and resting along Lago Xolotlán, the capital of Managua has grown three of their own into major league players. Unfortunately, only two remain active, one of them being Loáisiga and free-agent pitcher J.C. Ramírez (33-year-old right-hander, who last pitched in an MLB game in 2019 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels). In MLB’s 146-year history, there has been a total of 15 players from Nicaragua who have played for a major league team.
“To bring some joy in everybody’s eyes. It’s on me back home. Just trying to give them the best I can so they can feel a little bit of excitement and watching the game, and not just them but also my family, and those who are watching all the time.”
The love for baseball didn’t begin with a curious mind that was intrigued by a sport that has gone scarce in the Central American country over the decades. Instead, it’s a love that was passed down from grandfather and father, who both played baseball. Loáisiga’s father, Stanley Loáisiga, played within the Montreal Expos minor league system and has played the game on an international level.
Latino Sports is celebrating 32 years of the Latino MVP awards; Loáisiga is the only player from Nicaragua listed on the 2021 Latino MVP ballot. His name resides on the list amongst other prominent relievers across the American League, and he feels deeply humbled to be recognized for the award, “It’s an honor. You take into consideration how many years we have (the award) … it’s an honor. I think it’s just a result of all the hard work over the years, especially last year having a strong campaign.”
Loáisiga stepped onto the big league mound on June 15, 2018, against the Tampa Bay Rays and proved his dominance with a five-inning shutout that resulted in a win. From that point on, Loáisiga has progressively become one of the Yankees’ most reliable relievers. As the heart of the Yankees bullpen, the righty pitched a total of 70.2 innings in 57 games, finalizing a 9-4 record with a 2.17 ERA in 2021.
The 2022 season comes with great expectations for the heavy sinker thrower. Loáisiga’s ability to translate efficiently on the mound has amounted to success over his four seasons with the Bronx Bombers. He has seen a steady progression in mechanics throughout four seasons and dip in ERA (ERA from 2018 through 2021: 5.11, 4.55, 3.52, 2.17). Additionally, the Yankees have a heavily detailed bullpen that starts with Loáisiga and closes out with the 2019 Latino MVP American League Reliever/Closer winner and 2021 Latino MVP AL Reliever/Closer candidate Aroldis Chapman.
Loáisiga noted the importance of staying healthy in 2022 to have a successful year. Staying healthy and leading the Yankees bullpen mounts itself as another glaring but earned responsibility. The Yankees bullpen has much to prove after exiting the 2021 postseason with a loss to the Boston Red Sox in the win-or-go-home Wild Card game. Loáisiga and the Yankees will have to jump on every opportunity to tackle the heavily-stacked American League East to be seen as a competitive force for an October push.
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