Article reposted from wane.com
Author: Glenn Marini
Huntington North and Manchester University graduate Michael Salazar got a chance to see the 2016 World Series from Cleveland’s dugout an assistant athletic trainer for the Indians.
“People ask me all the time if I knew from the get-go, and I really didn’t,” Salazar told WANE-TV about choosing his career. “I knew I liked sports, and I knew I liked medicine in some kind of capacity. If you told me that in high school I’m going to be where I’m at today, I would have laughed.”
A standout wrestler at Huntington North, Salazar attended Manchester to continue his career on the mats. However, late in his undergraduate studies Salazar became interested in athletic training, especially after an internship in Fort Wayne.
“One of the things is my language – I’m bilingual,” says Salazar. “The Wizards were here in Fort Wayne, before the TinCaps, and I reached out to them and they were happy to have me there. We did a summer internship with them and that really opened up my eyes to say, hey, this is what I really want to do. I get to work with bilingual athletes. It was a perfect fit.”
That opportunity led to one in the Atlanta Braves organization. After cutting his teeth in professional baseball Salazar left the Braves for the Cleveland Indians, with the ultimate goal of returning back to the Midwest to be around family and friends. After working his way up in Cleveland’s minor league system Salazar got his first full-time MLB gig with the Indians in 2012 and got his first taste of postseason play this past fall.
“You just never know. You just never know when you’re going to play in October,” says Salazar. “I don’t know what the stats are. We were in first place since June of something like that. You hope for it every year. Yeah, it makes for a long season, but every year you want to hope to play in October.”
It didn’t take too long in the World Series for Salazar to get some face time on national television. In game one in the bottom of the third Carlos Santana went down with cramps. Salazar was one of two trainers summoned to the field.
“Being high stakes, really, my first time in the post-season that type of exposure was overwhelming,” says Salazar. “I still get texts from people who say ‘I saw you.’ Even though they know what I do it’s still funny to them to see me on T.V.”
So what was in that bottle or red liquid he gave to Santana to help with the cramps? Regular fruit punch Gatorade?
“Good question,” says Salazar with a laugh, “unfortunately, I can’t answer that question.”
One more reason for a smile in game one? Catcher Roberto Perez, who hit three homers all regular season, would go deep twice. It meant an Indians win – and a big hug for Salazar at the end of the dugout.
“It’s the language barrier,” says Salazar. “I’m just comfortable with those guys and to be able to speak to them in their native language mean a lot. I’m not saying the guy would have treated anybody any differently, but he came out of our system. I knew him when he signed and through the minor leagues, and you get close to these guys.”
While the World Series didn’t turn out the way he would have liked – the Cubs famously won in seven games in extra-inning fashion – Salazar focuses on the journey, not the result.
“Again, if you would have told me back in my Huntington North days this is what I’d be doing some 20 years later, I would have probably laughed,” says Salazar. “But the opportunities, the interactions, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, just the overall experiences and the exposure is phenomenal. I wouldn’t trade it one bit.”