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Tattoos tell the story of Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal

Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal describes his tattoos and how they illustrate his life and relationships.

Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal doesn’t talk much around the ballpark.

Before games, he tucks himself away in a video room outside the clubhouse. After games, when some players are hustling to leave the stadium, he retreats to the video room, eye black still smeared on his face, to dissect film.

But outside of game time, Grandal embraces an opportunity to talk about the tattoos that adorn his body. Turns out, there are stories behind them, and he dives into each one.

As he does, his mother is mentioned several times.

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Like many moms, Maria Gomez pleaded with her son to not have ink permanently emblazoned on his body when he was in high school. She told him he must wait until he moved out of her house.

Gomez wasn’t surprised — though she recalls needing to sit down — when Grandal returned home in the days after high school graduation and announced that he had something to show her.

Grandal pulled back the sleeve of his shirt to reveal Japanese letters tattooed on his inner bicep. The tattoo read “Scorpio.”

“I was trying to act out,” Grandal said.

The tattoo was actually more a reflection of his relationship with his mother than an act of defiance.

Gomez, a native of Cuba, reared Grandal after divorcing his father before her son’s first birthday. In 1998, when Grandal was 10, Gomez applied to the Cuban Migration program.

Getting permission to leave the island was a long shot, but Gomez was able to legally migrate to the United States with her son, parents and new husband.

Gomez and Grandal were inseparable.

“I never let anyone make decisions for him or anything, then we would always go everywhere together,” Gomez said, adding that she never missed one of his baseball games.

Grandal has several tattoos rooted in the Zodiac calendar. He said he became drawn to the symbols because his mother would often read him his horoscope.

“When I grew up it just came to be,” he said.

When Grandal went for a second tattoo, Gomez had resigned herself that it was her son’s decision. “He was an adult,” she said, so she participated in creating the story.

“I got my nickname on my back with eyes, actually red eyes, because in Cuba red means how you battle [envy] from other people and my mom says, ‘Well, since you are always giving your back to the crowd, you must have eyes on your back, especially red, just for those people who envy you,’” Grandal recalled.

Grandal, 27, said the tattoos brought him good luck and became therapeutic when he played baseball at the University of Miami. The trend continued after the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

On his bicep, he has a Scorpion breaking through chains, and a Tasmanian devil wearing catcher’s gear on his forearm. His wife’s name, Heather, is printed under his wedding ring. Cuba is outlined on his wrist. And the words of Nelson Mandela are scrawled on his chest: “You are the Captain of Yourself.”

“What am I going to tell him?” Gomez said, laughing over the telephone from the home Grandal bought her in Miami. “He is enough of an adult to decide what he wants to do.”

Watch video of Dodger catcher Yasmani Grandal displaying and talking about his tattoos at www.latimes.com/dodgers.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry


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