Category: Player Interviews

Chase Stevens Interview

Chase Stevens was drafted in the 30th round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Chase attended college at Oklahoma State University. During the 2012 season he played with the Missoula Osprey, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Chase pitched 33.2 innings in 26 games and compiled a 3-2 record with a 3.21 ERA. Chase struck out 59 batters while ONLY allowing 12 earned runs, 23 hits, and 17 walks (That’s 1.77 strike outs per inning). Those are some pretty good stats! His future looks very bright as a young ballplayer.

Chase Stevens

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During the 2012-2013 off-season I got the chance to talk with Chase. I told him about my blog, and he kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Here is what he had to say during the interview:

Q1.  So Chase, Tell us a little about yourself

Chase Stevens:  “I’m a small town kid from Blanchard Oklahoma.  I have lived there my whole life.  I started playing baseball when I was 4 years old and loved the game ever since.  I have a twin brother named chance. I played Junior college baseball at Seminole State college in Seminole OK. From there I went on to play my junior year at Oklahoma State University.”

Q2.  In 2012, you were drafted in the 30th round by the D-backs. What was it like to be drafted to play pro baseball? What feelings or emotions did you feel on draft day?

Chase Stevens:  “I was extremely anxious to see where I got picked.  It was my first time going through the draft process so it was all very new to me and my family.  When I got the call that I had been selected I felt like there was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and that all my hard work had finally paid off.”

Q3.  Last season you pitched for the Missoula Osprey, an affiliate of the D-backs, in the Pioneer League. What role did have in your teams’ pitching rotation and how did you contribute to your team’s success?

Chase Stevens:  “I was a 7th, 8th inning guy.  A set up guy for the closer. My job was to come in and have a clean inning and hand the ball off to the closer.”

Q4.  Did you have any coaches in high school who gave you tips that you feel have really helped your pitching? And what advice would you give to kids who hope to improve their pitching?

Chase Stevens:  “I have been blessed with great coaches at every level I have played at.  My junior college pitching coach really emphasized the importance of mental toughness.  This is one thing I stress the most to younger guys.”

Q5.  Did you have a strategy on the mound that you felt really helped you pitch well?

Chase Stevens:  “I tried to focus on getting ahead of hitters.  It was very important for me to stay away from walks that late in the game.”

Q6.  What do you expect from yourself in order to have a breakthrough season into the Majors?

Chase Stevens:  “Too stay consistent, work hard, and make the most of the opportunities that are given to me.”

Now I’m going to shift the focus away from on the field matters, and I’ll ask about off the field matters.

Q7.  Do you collect memorabilia of any kind?

Chase Stevens:  “I like to collect my hats from every team I play on.”

Q8.  Are you familiar with the term “Ballhawk”? Odds are that you will run into a few Ballhawks at the ballpark next year, if you haven’t already. In your opinion, are they good guys or bad guys?

Chase Stevens:  “From what I have heard it is a fan that collects home runs and foul balls.  I haven’t really ever experienced one, but I think it is pretty cool that someone values a baseball that I have played with that much.”

Q9.  Do you have a favorite band/song whom/that you would choose to walk out to the mound to?

Chase Stevens:  “I enjoy a lot of different genres of music.  It really depends on what I am doing while I am listening to the music. When I chose a walk out song I usually tried to pick something that I knew the fans would like. It would be hard to pick just one.”

Q10.  Do you have a specific routine that you follow during the offseason to help prepare you for baseball?

Chase Stevens:  “This being my first off season I am just trying to get the feel for being away from baseball this long.  I returned to school this fall, and will finish my degree this coming fall.  Staying in the routine of going to the field daily and working in the weight room have been key for me this offseason.”

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Thank you very much Chase, for answering all my questions! I greatly appreciate your generosity and getting to talk with you!

You can follow Chase Stevens on Twitter @ChaseStevens.

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Jacque Jones Interview

Jacque was drafted by Minnesota in the 2nd round of the 1996 Draft. He made his Major League debut in 1999 with the Twins. Jacque Jones played for the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, and Florida Marlins during a 10 year career.  Throughout his career he played left, right, and center field. Lifetime, Jones hit .277 AVG with 165 home runs, 630 RBI, and scored 632 runs in 1,302 games. Jacque currently lives in San Diego with his wife and children. In 2012 he was the batting coach for the Padres Single-A affiliate, the Fort Wayne TinCaps.

jaque jones

Jacque Jones @ TwinsFest 2012

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A few weeks ago, I got the chance to talk with Jacque. I told him about my blog, and he kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Here is what he had to say during the interview:

Q1.  What was it like coming up through the Twins organization; from talking to other players, how did it differ from other organizations?

Jacque Jones:  “It was cool. We had a good time and worked hard. We formed a brotherhood.”

Q2.  What was the best part of STARTING and ENDING your career playing for the Minnesota Twins?

Jacque Jones:  “Best part getting drafted, and then getting the standing ovation in the exhibition games.”

Q3.  How did the game of baseball change, if at all, during the 10 years you played in the Major Leagues?

Jacque Jones:  “Didn’t change much.”

Q4.  What aspect of Target Field do you enjoy more than the Metrodome, and vice versa?

Jacque Jones:  “It’s outside. That’s the best part.”

Q5.  What was the most memorable part of your career?

Jacque Jones:  “My whole career is the best part. I fulfilled a childhood dream.”

Q6.  Is there one particular accomplishment of yours that you are most proud of?

Jacque Jones:  “Playing for as long as I did was a great accomplishment.”

Q7.  You were the batting coach for the Padres Single-A affiliate, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, in 2012. Will you be coaching in 2013?

Jacque Jones:  “I will be coaching in San Antonio.”

Q8.  Which current non-MLB pro athlete would he most like to see play baseball?

Jacque Jones:  “LeBron James. I would love to see him play baseball.”

Q9.  What advice do you give to kids who play baseball?

Jacque Jones:  “Don’t let people tell u that you can’t achieve your dreams or goals. Keep playing until they take the uniform off.”

Q10.  What did you most enjoy about being a part of TwinsFest last year (2012) ?

Jacque Jones:  “The fans are the most enjoyable part of the TwinsFest experience.”

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Thank you very much Jacque, for answering all my questions! I greatly appreciate your generosity and getting to talk with you!

You can follow Jacque Jones on Twitter @JacqueJones11

Greg Swindell Interview

Greg Swindell was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 1st round (2nd pick) of the 1986 amateur draft. He signed with the Indians on July 31, 1986 and made his MLB Debut on August 21 of the same year. During his rookie year, Greg compiled a 5-2 record, with a 4.23 ERA and 46 SO. Over his 17 year career Swindell played for the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greg was an American League All-star with the Indians in 1989, and a World Series Champion with the Diamondbacks in 2001. Over his career he pitched 2233.1 innings in 664 games, compiled a 123-122 record. He had a 3.86 ERA, 1542 SO and only allowed 501 walks. Greg’s final game was on September 23, 2002.

Greg Swindell

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A few weeks ago, I got the chance to talk with Greg Swindell. I told him about my blog, and he kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Here is what he had to say during the interview:

Q1 (Me):   Tell me a little about yourself

Greg:         Live in Austin tx. Raising 3 children. 1 is out of college. Broadcasting longhorn baseball on longhorn network. Engaged to Lauren

Q2 (Me):   Do you have any hobbies, or collect memorabilia of any kind?

Greg:         Crossword puzzles. Jeopardy. Trivia. Golf a little. I don’t collect too much.

Q3 (Me):   What was the most fulfilling thing that you got from a 17 year career in Major League Baseball?

Greg:         Winning World Series in 2001. And just having a 17 year career was fulfilling!!

Q5 (Me):   You have almost 9 years of Major League experience in both the National and American leagues. What challenges did each league present, and how did they differ according to which league you were playing in?

Greg:         National league was faster paced and I got to hit. I liked that. American League as a pitcher you just sit around and wait.

Q5 (Me):   You were an All Star in 1989 with the Indians, and a World Champion in 2001 with the Diamondbacks. What were those experiences like?

Greg:         Winning World Series is indescribable. Until you’ve done it. You can’t describe it. All-star was in same team with Nolan. My hero growing up. It was a lot of fun to see his experience e up close.

Q6 (Me):   Often times we hear about players who play for 1 team during their career. What did you most enjoy about being able to play for six teams during your career?

Greg:         Just experience the diff philosophies of coaches and org. I liked it. Also lived the cities I played in.

Q7 (Me):   What was it like breaking Sandy Alomar’s 30 game hit streak in 1997?

Greg:         He was my catcher for 4 years. I gave him 3 fastballs down the middle and he popped one up. I tried!!!! To extend it. Haha

Q8 (Me):   Is there one particular accomplishment of yours that you are most proud of?

Greg:         Starting for 10 years and relieving for 7 more. Making the adjustment from one to the other.

Q9 (Me):   When you look down the road, can you see yourself as a manager or coach in either the Major Leagues or minors?

Greg:         I would like to coach yes. I have 5 team mates that are managers right now from 1988 Indians. But you have to “pay your dues” So I would have to start at the bottom.

Q10 (Me):   What advice would you give to kids who play baseball?

Greg:         Enjoy what you’re doing. I played baseball because it was fun. Wether it’s baseball or whatever. Enjoy what you do and it will be good.

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Thank you very much Greg, for answering all my questions! I greatly appreciate your generosity and getting to talk with you!

You can follow Greg Swindell on Twitter @GregSwindell

P.J. Walters Interview

I got this photo from google images. Google said it was from www.zimbio.com

I got this photo from google images. Google said was from http://www.zimbio.com

P.J. Walters was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 11th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He signed with the Cardinals on June 19th, 2006 and made his Major League Debut on April 17th, 2009. Walters played for the Cardinals until July 27th, 2011, when they traded him with Trever Miller, Colby Rasmus and Brian Tallet to the Toronto Blue Jays for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, Marc Rzepczynski and cash. The Minnesota Twins signed P.J. in December of 2011. Walters threw his first careers complete game on May 22, 2012 as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 9-2. Over his Major League career, Walters has started 16 of the 32 MLB games which he has played in.

I was able to speak with P.J. on 12-13-12. I told him about my blog, and he kindly agreed to do an interview with me. He asked if we could do the interview that same day and on the phone. With his consent, I recorded our phone conversation.

Twins 2013 Winter Caravan – Part 2

The Twins Winter Caravan came to Rochester, MN just a few days ago. The event was held on Wednesday night at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center.

I attended the Caravan with my friend Mr. Most and one of his friends. As we entered the convention center we were each handed a ticket for prize drawings.

Kris Atteberry (Twins radio broadcaster) started by introducing the Twins President, Dave St. Peter. He followed by introducing Joe Vavra, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, and T.C. Bear. Each person then took their turn with the microphone. Each gave a short speech himself, and answered the questions that Kris Atteberry had for them. I learned something new about every one of them!

I recorded Brian Duensing’s response to Kris Atteberry’s question about Justin Moreau’s 2012 season.

Following this, we watched a highlight video from the 2012 season, which also highlighted new additions to the 2013 Minnesota Twins. My favorite part of the video was when it showed who would likely fill each fielding position in 2013. Trevor May, Vance Worley, Ray Olmedo, Kevin Correia, Rich Harden, Alex Meyer and were among the many new names in the Minnesota Twins Organization.

Now, do you remember the tickets I mentioned we had received as we entered the event? Well, those were used to give away prizes. There were probably around 10-15 prizes given away. Prizes included Twins Fest Tickets, Bobble heads, and autographed baseballs. Mr. Most won an autographed baseball, so that was cool to see!

After the prizes were given away, people were allowed to get in line for autographs. While everyone was getting in line, I noticed that Dave St. Peter was in the back of the room. I took advantage of this, and made my way back to talk with him before others did. I introduced myself, and while we were talking, I mentioned my blog. He sounded interested in what I had to say. Mr. St. Peter is a fantastic guy, and he is also very down to earth! He really encouraged me to keep writing and to look into a sports related career. I was even able to interview him for a few minutes!

This is Dave St. Peter and Me

This is Dave St. Peter and Me

After I got a picture with him, I left him with my card.

Following my conversation with Dave St. Peter, I got in line for autographs. I proceeded to get the autographs of Joe Vavra, Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins and Kris Atteberry.

When I got to Kris, I didn’t have anything to get his signature on so I handed him one of my business cards for him to sign. When he saw the front of the card he asked, “Is this your card? Are you Paul? So are you a writer?” I answered his question and told him that I write about collecting baseballs and interviewing MLB players. When he heard this, he got excited (probably because sports media is his profession). He asked me where I go to school, what grade I’m in, what I want to do for a career, and a bunch of questions about my blog.  After I answered his questions, he gave me his phone number and email in case I have any questions about writing. It was awesome to see that he was genuinely interested that I write a baseball blog. That was SO cool, and it meant the world to me!! Kris really reached out to me by giving me his support and professional advice. People like Kris can really build confidence in others. I know I’ve said it before, but thank you for everything Kris!!

All of the Autographs from Twins Caravan 2013

All of the Autographs from Twins Caravan 2013

Adam Greenberg Interview

Adam Greenberg was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 9th round of the 2002 amateur draft. He signed with the Cubs on June 19th, 2002. Adam made his Major League Debut on July 9th, 2005, a night which changed his life forever. Greenberg was hit directly in the back of his head by a 92 mph fastball on the very first pitch from Valerio de los Santos. Since then, Adam has played baseball with Minor League affiliates of the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Although he played pro, it wasn’t until 2012 when he returned to the Major leagues. In 2012, a Cubs fan started a petition to get Adam his first official Major League at bat since his debut (One At Bat). The Miami Marlins offered him a one-day contract to play on October 2, 2012. He was struck out in the bottom of the 6th inning by Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. After the game Greenberg said, “It was magical. The energy that was in the stadium was something that i have never experienced in my life, and i don’t know if i’ll ever experience that again.” This past year, Greenberg played for Israel in the World Baseball Classic. On December 20, 2012 Adam signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles.

Greenberg team pics

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In 2010, Adam Co-founded the company, LuRong Living. Here is a screenshot that I took on the company’s website:

Captureas

This is what Adam has to say about the birth of LuRong Living:

“Batting Practice June 2010 – Danny and I were having our daily chat while running down fly balls when we came to the same conclusion; we had to figure out how to bring Dr. Lebowitz’s life-changing products to the masses.  On that day, the idea was born. After months of hard work and further research, we (Adam Greenberg, Danny Putnam, Dr. Lebowitz, Dr.Kwok, and others) founded LuRong Living.

Baseball has taught us a lot about hard work, dedication, and the pursuit of happiness, and we are now proud to present our dream and new family – LuRong Living. We are excited to invite you to join the family and take the first step to a happy healthier you.

Sincerely,
Adam Greenberg and the LuRong Living Family”

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A few weeks ago, I got the chance to talk with Adam Greenberg. I told him about my blog, and he kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Here is what he had to say during the interview:

Q1. How has your off-season been so far?

Answer: It’s been hard work. I worked from day one, and of course signing a contract was my goal. Now that I’ve done that, it’s time to keep working!

Q2. Do you have any hobbies, or collect memorabilia of any kind?

Answer: Not really too into memorabilia; I focus on my workouts, that’s my real hobby. Messing around, playing other sports.

Q3. Tell me a little about yourself.

Answer: Well, I played a lot of soccer and basketball growing up in Connecticut, and when I got older, I got to play with some more great people at the University of North Carolina. I’ve got an unbelievable family who supports me 100%, and I’ve got a business, Lurong Living, a natural supplement. Here’s more: http://www.lurongliving.com

Q4. You debuted in the Majors on July 9, 2005 with the Cubs. That night changed your life forever, when you were hit in the head with the first pitch you saw. You’ve probably been asked about that injury a million times. Besides that, have you had any other injuries that have made you think baseball is dangerous?

Answer: I mean, yeah, you’re always on the lookout. Everybody breaks down if they play long enough. It’s just about savoring every chance you get, because it is very dangerous, and I learned that, of course.

Q5. How did the “One At Bat” campaign start? Obviously, you had the support of many fans.

Answer: Matt Liston started that all on his own. He’s a huge Cubs fan, and he heard my story, and the fact that he was able to rally everyone around behind me was so touching and amazing. He’s incredible.

Q6. October 2, 2012. What was the whole experience like?

Answer: From the first minute, it was incredible. With all my family at the hotel, right to the locker room, trying on my real jersey, bonding with teammates, taking BP, then right to the game. It was a whirlwind, obviously. I don’t regret one second.

Q7. What was the best part of playing for Israel in the World Baseball Classic during these last few months?

Answer: It was incredibly meaningful to me to represent my heritage. When we got knocked out, it definitely hurt, because that was a great bunch of guys. Matt Liston told me in the locker room after our last loss that the Marlins were going to sign me, so definitely a lot of emotions!

Q8. Congratulations on signing a contract with the Baltimore Orioles Organization. What is your outlook for the 2013 baseball season?

Answer: I’ll report to camp and do my best to put myself in the Orioles’ plans. They gave Lew Ford a great shot last year, who I played with in the Atlantic League, so I know I’ll get a chance to prove myself.

Q9. What are your goals for next season?

Answer: I can’t do anything more than play hard, and I’ll guarantee that. I’m just incredibly grateful for any opportunity.

Q10. What advice would you give to kids who play baseball?

Answer: Play your hardest, and play for fun. Baseball should be fun, no matter where you’re playing it. You can make your talent stand out if you play as hard as you can!

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Thank you very much Adam , for answering all my questions! I greatly appreciated your generosity and getting to talk with you!

You can follow Adam Greenberg on Twitter @adamgreenberg10

Pat Neshek Interview

Pat Neshek was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 6th round of the 2002 amateur draft. He made his Major League Debut on July 7th, 2006, and pitched two scoreless innings in a loss to the Texas Rangers. Currently, he is a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. Over his Major League career, Neshek has compiled a 14-8 record with a 3.00 ERA and 187 strikeouts.

Nesheki

Pat is a very big autograph collector. In fact, he even has his own website dedicated to autograph collecting. If you would like to see it, click on this link: http://www.eteamz.com/patneshek/. Pat has a very smart and interesting way to collect autographs. Here is a screen shot from his website explaining how you can get HIS autograph:

Pat neshek screen shot

When I learned of this, I thought that I would try it out. I sent him a signed Ned Yost card that I had bought at Twins Fest. *Just a note: I have only PURCHASED two autographs. I do NOT count them in my collection because I purchased them*. Anyways, I sent him the Ned Yost card, and two other cards that I wanted him to sign for me. I also sent him a sheet of paper containing five interview questions.

Two weeks later I received a letter in the mail from Pat Neshek. Pat was very generous and answered my five questions, signed my two baseball cards, and even included an extra signed card of him.

Here are the questions I asked him, along with his answers:

Q1 (Me):         When did you start collecting baseball cards and autographs?

Pat Neshek:     “1986 with the help of my dad”

Q2 (Me):         Roughly how many signatures do you have in your collection, and which is your favorite?

Pat Neshek:     “No clue, Too many.”

Q3 (Me):         What makes you nervous in a game and how do you regain your composure?

Pat Neshek:     “Watching the game thinking about when I might go in. Nervous feelings go away when I warm up.”

Q4 (Me):         Were there any coaches in the minors who gave you tips that you still use in the Majors?

Pat Neshek:     “Not really, Stu Cliburn – 1st pitch slider w/ men on base”

Q5 (Me):         What are your expectations for yourself, your fans, and the A’s organization going into the 2013 season?

Pat Neshek:     “Stay healthy & pitch my game.”

You can follow Pat on Twitter @PatNeshek