OGDEN -- Turning a rapid-fire double play with runners barreling down the line is the easy part.
Turning a phrase of seemingly unintelligible slang into clear communication between teammates who don't speak the same language is harder.
For Ogden Raptors players from all over the world, baseball is their international language. It's just that many of them grew up calling it beisbol.
The Raptors have had 17 players on their roster this season who were born outside the United States. One is from Japan, two are from Canada, and the other 14 are from Latin American countries.
On opening day of this season, 27 percent of major league baseball players were Latino.
As the Raptors take aim at their first Pioneer League championship, the impact of Latino ballplayers is felt in Ogden as much as the rest of professional baseball.
Ogden manager Damon Berryhill said it's important to him to relate to his players, no matter what language they speak.
"If you're from the Dominican (Republic), or Japan, first time over in the States, you're a young man, 19, 20 years old, just going out and being able to order food, ask for directions, is a bit of a culture shock for them," Berryhill said.
To help smooth the transition, Ogden's major league affiliate, the Los Angeles Dodgers, has created cultural assimilation programs for players from Latin America and Asia and assigns them an English tutor during homestands.
The Raptors also have two coaches -- pitching coach Bill Simas and hitting coach Jay Washington -- who speak Spanish, and the team assigns a translator to Japanese pitcher Kazuki Nishijima.
"It's really important on my part to make sure they are trying to learn English, so the further along they are in their career, the easier it's going to be for them," Berryhill said.
"By the time they come over to the States, they can speak a little bit of English, some better than others. Generally, by the time the short season is over, they're doing pretty well with their English."
Outfielder Noel Cuevas said the Raptors' Latin American players help each other with translation.
Cuevas, a 21st-round draft pick last year who hit .285 during the regular season with eight home runs and 13 stolen bases, was born in Camuy, Puerto Rico. He got a head start on English by attending three years of high school in Orlando, Fla.
Playing ball with teammates from all over the world "is interesting, because we get to know about a lot of people, a lot of different cultures," he said.
"We get to know about their country and what they're all about. It's good to have variety and to meet some people from different parts of the world."
However, even players who speak the same language have to be careful not to be misunderstood when they use slang, Cuevas said.
Being bilingual is a blessing.
"It helps a lot, because you're not segregated with one specific group," Cuevas said. "It's very cool because I get to be with everyone, anyone I want. I can be friends with all of them."
He also comes to the aid of other Latino players when they need it.
"I like helping them," he said. "Since I've got this gift to speak two languages, I might as well help people."
Chris Maag, of Ogden, has worked for the Dodgers for three years, tutoring Raptors players in English during the Pioneer League season. During the rest of the year, he's a Spanish, history and student government teacher at Sand Ridge Junior High School in Roy.
The Dodgers also have language tutors at their baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, at their extended spring training facility in Arizona and at their High A affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
"After that, their total focus is baseball and getting up through the system," Maag said.
His students pick up their formal lessons fairly quickly, Maag said, but the most common questions are about slang. Sometimes Maag has to translate the locker room talk as well.
At the end of each season, Maag takes his Raptors students to meet his junior high Spanish students. This year, he also took them to read to students at Odyssey Elementary in Ogden, "which worked out really good because my wife was the teacher there," Maag said. "So it was easy to make that connection and get me some street cred at home."
The players signed autographs during school lunch, which was enough to transcend language barriers in at least one way, he said.
"I think we've created a lot more Raptors and Dodgers fans than we've ever had before, at least in Utah."