10/09/12 11:10 AM ET
Countrymen Cano, Manny impacted Ciriaco
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
"My dad, he played a little bit, he didn't play professionally," said Ciriaco, one of the bright spots in 2012 for the Red Sox. "I'd go watch my dad play. He was a shortstop and outfielder, too. I'd go watch him, trying to be like him. I love baseball, so I grow up watching baseball, so that's why I wanted to be."
Ciriaco turns 27 later this month, and this is the third season in which he's seen Major League action, but everything that came before this season pales in comparison. He had 31 games played prior to 2012, and he more than doubled that this season, playing 76 games. The Red Sox have used him everywhere but first base, pitcher and catcher.
Ciriaco grew up in San Pedro de Macoris, the same city in the Dominican Republic that produced Sammy Sosa and Ciriaco's offseason workout partner, Robinson Cano. There's some irony to the pairing with Cano, because the Bombers' All-Star has helped mold a Yankees killer.
"I mean, he just finds a way against us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Ciriaco, who hit a whopping .415 against the Yanks, with a .566 slugging percentage.
Ciriaco can't explain his success against New York.
"I don't know," he said. "I just try and play hard every time I get a chance to play."
Coincidentally, one of Ciriaco's idols besides his father was Manny Ramirez, who hit more home runs against the Yankees in his career (55) than any other club. Ramirez is also a Dominican native, although he is from Santo Domingo, a different city. Either way, Red Sox fans can appreciate Ramirez's swing better than anyone.
"I grew up watching Manny, Sammy Sosa, guys like that," Ciriaco said. "I really like Manny, the way he hits."
Ciriaco doesn't have anywhere close to Manny's power, but he does credit some of his overall success at the plate to the work he did with Cano. Ciriaco had worked out with Cano before, when he was about 15 years old. After a short stint with Cano last offseason, he expects the two will work out together again this offseason.
That will probably come after Ciriaco plays winter ball in the Dominican.
"I knew him a little bit before [this year] -- we're from the same town and his dad has a facility for players, and I remember my coaches, they practiced with him," Ciriaco said of Cano. "And I practiced for a couple weeks when I was young. Met him and his dad a long time ago. Last offseason, when I finished playing in winter ball, we talked and he wanted me to come practice together."
Ciriaco's impressed his teammates along his breakout season. The Red Sox signed him last offseason as a Minor League free agent, and he he had a stellar Spring Training. Since making the big league club, he's carried an average of .300 or better since his second game.
"He's been playing great for us," Jacoby Ellsbury said. "He's been huge for us all season."