Quintana and Teherán: Two Cafeteros representing Colombia on the mound

Colombia, the land of cafe and cumbia music, is a South American nation more likely to produce soccer stars than baseball journeymen. But a couple of Colombian pitchers are making béisbol fans in the land of fútbol.

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to start, Colombians all over the world are preparing to support their national soccer team, which had its best showing in the last World Cup by reaching the quarterfinals.

Two peloteros will offer their support from the ballparks of Major League Baseball. José Quintana and Julio Teherán, who were teammates on Colombia’s national baseball team, are friends and ambassadors who will closely follow their countrymen in the World Cup.

Teherán and Quintana have had their baseball careers take similar paths. They were signed as amateur free agents in consecutive years (Quintana signed in 2006, Teherán in 2007). And they made their Major League debuts exactly one year apart: Teherán on May 7, 2011 and Quintana on May 7, 2012.

At the moment they are nearing their 65th career victories and have proven to be workhorses. Heading into the weekend, Quintana had a career ERA of 3.57, and Teherán had a 3.64. Both have made at least 30 starts in the majors in each of their last four seasons.

Another similarity for the Cafeteros is their full support for the Colombian national soccer team that will compete in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

“Like all Colombians, I love soccer it’s our main sport,” Teherán said. “I will absolutely be supporting my national team. My family and I already have our jerseys ready. I’m just waiting for the World Cup to wear it every time the Colombian team plays.”

Quintana recognizes how tough it is to even make the World Cup and is proud of his country.

“The World Cup is a tough tournament and very competitive,” Quintana said. “Not all countries can make it. I am proud of Colombia. I hope the team makes it further than the last one. We have a very good team and we’re hopeful for them.”

Having two pitchers from Colombia face each other in the majors is unique. It has only happened twice, and both times it was a Teherán against Quintana.

Their first duel was on July 9, 2016, when Quintana was on the south side of Chicago with the White Sox. Quintana was victorious. They faced each other again on May 14, and this time Teherán was the winner.

They don’t let competition get in the way of their friendship outside the diamond, understanding the responsibility they have as Colombians in the majors.

“We have a great relationship,” Quintana said. “It’s very important for Colombia to have two Colombians face each other the way we have in the big leagues. I hope we are able to match up against each other again.”

The two get together outside of their day job of playing baseball professionally. When the Braves are in Chicago they make sure to get together for dinner. Quintana recently went to Teherán’s home for dinner when the Cubs were in Atlanta.

When hearing them as they discuss their relationship, you can sense the respect and admiration they have for each other. Sports are a competition, though, so when it comes to facing each other there is no pregame fodder.
It is all business.

“We are very good friends but when we are in season we are very focused on our work,” Teherán said after beating Quintana at Wrigley Field in May. “When we have a chance, we talk and catch up. But in this case because we were going to meet head to head I wanted to concentrate on my start and on my work. I know he did as well, so I let him do the same.”

Many consider shortstop and three-time World Series champion Édgar Rentería as the last great Colombian to play in the majors.

Like their soccer counterparts these cafeteros know the responsibility they have representing their country through sport. After the World Cup ends they hope to give their country a reason to come straight back to béisbol. Fortunately there will still be plenty left to watch.

Featured Image:  Alex Trautwig / Major League Baseball

Inset Image: Mike Stobe / Getty Images Sport