The first baseman has been through the ringer off the field, losing his mother to brain cancer last month. In an appearance on Sportsnet 590’s Jeff Blair Show Wednesday, Tellez opened up about his personal struggles, how his teammates helped him through the most difficult period of his life, and what it means to have his shot in the majors.
“It’s been a long road the past couple years for me,” Tellez said. “2017 was really tough. I struggled a lot on the field and off the field. I could never get away from what was going on in the reality of both my life away and my life on the field. It’s nothing short of one of the most exciting and emotional times for me right now but I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to be in the situation I’m in.
“I struggled away from the field this year and ended up losing my mother due to brain cancer and it was one of those really tough moments for me. One of the guys who actually talked me into coming back was Devon Travis. I wasn’t going to come back this season but I did and just kept strong and I’m here now and I couldn’t be more grateful for what I’ve done this year.”
No one would have batted an eye if Tellez decided to sit out the rest of the year to mourn the loss of his mother, but the 23-year-old persevered and capped off his season with a call-up to The Show. He’ll never forget the outpouring of support he received from his teammates and coaching staff, and that assistance is what really pushed him through the tough times.
“My teammates, my coaching staff, my family, they were all there for me,” Tellez said. “I didn’t know who was in my corner or how many people were in my corner but I found out throughout the year that I had a lot of people in there to help me with the situation I was going through. My teammates were nothing short of amazing to help me through everything I was going through and urging me to come back and being supportive of me every time I had a tough spot or something was going on with my mom.
“From spring training until now I’ve been home three times over the course of the season. Everybody who was there for me is the real hero in this situation, but most of all my mom is the one who kept me going. Watching my family and myself battle what we were going through, I didn’t want to let her down …
“This year was different for me. I just wanted to play. I learned how to be vulnerable and talk about my problems away from the field and it brought ease to myself. I think that was the biggest thing for me this year, learning how to talk and get away from what was really going on at home and knowing that no matter what I did, nothing was going to change how my mom was doing. That’s something that she actually taught me as a kid and I got away from it but I just try to do the best I can day in and day out. Again, my staff in triple-A and my teammates were nothing short of amazing in helping me through that. Baseball truly is a brotherhood and a family and I got to see it first-hand this year.”
Listen to Tellez’s full interview in the audio player below.