When the Colorado Rockies take the field this weekend against the Atlanta Braves, they, along with Major League Baseball’s other 29 teams, will be participating in Players Weekend. It is a special weekend where unique jerseys will be worn displaying a player’s chosen nickname on the back of his jersey where his last name is usually shown.
But that’s not the only unique thing about Players Weekend. Major League players will also be wearing a patch on their sleeve. The “Thank You” patch allows players to honor a single person or multiple people who have made a difference in their career on the way to the big leagues.
While several Rockies players will pay homage to their family members on their patch, one of the more unique “thank you” acknowledgements will come on the arm of young outfielder Raimel Tapia. The 23-year-old will wear “Mi Familia y Alfonso Soriano” on his sleeve as a tribute to the role they have played in his development.
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Yes, Tapia is paying tribute to Soriano, one of the most powerful leadoff men in the history of Major League Baseball. Why? Well, according to this article, Soriano was a mentor to Tapia. You can see part of the resemblance in the way that Tapia stands at the plate (although he certainly has been known to change his stance, depending on the pitch count and situation).
Soriano has been in the news lately with the Rockies for another reason as well. After Charlie Blackmon hit his career-high 30th home run on Wednesday night in a loss to Kansas City, he joined an elite group of leadoff hitters who have hit 30 or more home runs in a season. Since 2000, just six players have hit 30 or more homers batting first for their teams. Soriano holds the top three season marks, hitting 39 (2006), 38 (2002) and 35 (2003). He also is tied for fourth with 33 in 2007.
Tapia enters Friday’s game in Atlanta hitting .278 in 133 at-bats this season. In limited playing time, he is tied for fourth on the Rockies with five stolen bases.