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Carlos Texidor can't stop loving baseball

Carlos Texidor felt the tears coming on.

As soon as Kent State knocked the Miami baseball RedHawks from the 2018 Mid-American Conference Tournament last May, the senior shortstop knew it was his final time competitively playing the game he loves.

He started crying and hugging his teammates, thanking them for a great season.

Little did he know, he'd be back at the same tournament, with the same team, a year later.

Originally from Guayama, Puerto Rico, Texidor transferred to Miami after two years at Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Ill. He felt drawn to Oxford after just one visit.

"[Head coach Danny] Hayden is a great guy," Texidor said. "In my visit, he was very nice to me, and I saw that interest of me and said, 'I really like this guy,' and I knew I was going to play right away. So those are two of the big reasons why I came here to play."

Once Texidor arrived on campus, it didn't take him long to establish himself on his new RedHawks team.

In 2017, he made 50 appearances, including 48 starts at shortstop, in Miami's 56 games. He hit .231, knocked in 10 runs and displayed incredible ability on defense.

He followed that up with a .219 batting average and 22 runs batted in during his senior campaign. He won the MAC Defensive Player of the Year award after recording a Miami team-high 158 assists while committing just five errors.

And he wore the coaching staff out.

"If you ask coach Hayden, he will say this same thing," Texidor said. "Coach Hayden would hit me ground balls every single time he had a chance to hit me ground balls."

During these practice sessions, his teammates started noticing something: Texidor's face often broke into a smile while he fielded grounders.

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"That's how much he loves baseball," Texidor's former teammate Ross Haffey said last May.

Haffey also said Texidor was the happiest guy on the 2018 RedHawks.

But for Texidor, the joy of his playing career didn't last forever. He had originally hoped to be selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft but wasn't due to a lingering shoulder injury.

With his MLB dream eliminated, he had no post-Miami plans.

He stayed in Oxford for the fall semester, finishing his final classes and helping out during the baseball offseason as a student-coach. He graduated in mid-December with a degree in sports leadership and management.

He spent only a few jobless days in the real world before he was contacted by Hayden.

Earlier in the fall, pitching coach Matt Davis left to accept a scouting job with the Boston Red Sox. Volunteer assistant coach Matt Passauer slid into the vacated role but Hayden still needed someone to fill Passauer's old position.

He called Texidor.

"I thought they might ask me," Texidor said. "I didn't know. I didn't want to, like, tell coach Hayden, 'Hey, I want to be a volunteer.' So, I waited for him, and he reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to do it."

Texidor did want to do it.

He accepted the job and joined the athletic facilities grounds crew to make up for the fact that the coaching position was unpaid.

Texidor has coaching pedigree because his father, also named Carlos Texidor, is a coach in Guayama. The elder Carlos managed Puerto Rico's national Little League team and coached his son until the latter left for college.

Despite that, Texidor never felt pressured to follow in his father's footsteps.

"It came from me," Texidor said. "I knew, if I stayed around coaching, I'd be around baseball. And I really love baseball."

His affection for the game carried into this season. He often practices with the team, shagging balls during batting practice or filling in during infield drills.

At an early-season practice, Hayden and Joe Forney, the director of baseball operations, had a weightlifting competition. They took turns picking up the 170-pound Texidor onto their shoulders and squatting him.

He smiled the entire time.

There's only one cause to frown in coaching.

"I'm not playing anymore," Texidor said. "It's hard not to think like a player. A year ago, I was a player, and I know how players think. I know how they want things to be done and stuff."

But it beats being out of the game entirely.

Less than a year after crying at the MAC Tournament, thinking his baseball life was over, Texidor is headed back to Avon, Ohio. The RedHawks clinched a postseason spot with a win over Western Michigan on Sunday.

Texidor wants to stay in baseball for as long as possible and is prepared to commit to coaching long-term.

His work hasn't gone unnoticed, as he's already received interest about being hired at other places outside of Miami.

While Texidor's dream of playing in the Major Leagues is over, he might still get there, only the opportunity would have to come as a coach. If he ever becomes a manager, he plans to hire his dad as his assistant.

He smiles at the thought of it.