LAKELAND, Fla. -- Andy Dirks insists he was not a celebrity in the Dominican Republic, despite his hit to win the Dominican Winter League championship and his subsequent success in the Caribbean Series.
"Andy Dirks is not a celebrity," he said. "I'm not Kim Kardashian. I'm a baseball player, man."
Those in the Dominican who were around for winter ball insist otherwise.
"He got the winning hit for the championship. That's like Edgar Renteria," Ramon Santiago said, comparing Dirks to the 1997 World Series hero. "He doesn't want to say it, but he was a celebrity. They call him 'The King Andy.'"
Dirks calls it a worthwhile endeavor. A year ago, he used the Dominican stint to put himself in game-ready shape going into Spring Training, and made an impression in camp that earned him a callup by summer. With one position spot up for grabs on the Opening Day roster, he hopes he can use his success down there to help him break through up here.
"I think it helps, because I've been seeing live pitching," Dirks said. "That always helps coming into spring."
Dirks went 6-for-24 in the Caribbean Series, but those half-dozen hits were good for four RBIs. He went 17-for-65 with four doubles, two triples and four RBIs during the Dominican League playoffs.
"The playoff baseball down there is fun. It's really exciting," Dirks said. "It's not like it's a grind or nothing. It's not too bad. The intensity, it's nuts down there. They love baseball."