Seattle Mariners Pitcher Chase De Jong
We gave former Wilson Bruin and current Seattle Mariners pitcher Chase De Jong a call in the Long Beach 908 studio. We asked him about life in the minor leagues and what it was like making his MLB debut against the Houston Astros (11:09-38:21). In 'Iron Sharpens Iron' we talked about CIF-SS playoff basketball where both Poly and St. Anthony advanced to the semifinals (2:29-6:02). We shared some of the things that were bothering us this week in our 'Grind My Gears' segment (6:06-9:56). We brought back our newest and hottest segment 'Shoot Yours Hot Topic' to debate Lucky Charms, National Anthems, and Doctors (40:48-55:04). As always we ended the show with the 908 Athlete of the Week. This week is Long Beach State pitcher Zak Baayoun (47:45-50:15).
Chase De Jong Q&A
Q: Can you describe your MLB debut for us?
A: For people who aren’t familiar with the story of how I got to the big leagues last year. I got traded from the Dodgers in Major League camp over to the Seattle Mariners, spent a couple weeks with them and was actually told I would be the opening night starter in Triple A and then the day before the big league team broke I got a phone call saying that I was going to the Major Leagues for Opening Day because a guy, his wife went to labor and he was going to be gone for three days and I was filling in for him and they told me that I wasn’t going to pitch because I was the long relief guy you know you go into Opening Day for three days and most likely that guy is not going to pitch. Three games in I’m sitting in the bullpen in Houston and the starter covers his innings, so I’m in there and the little pink backpacks that the rookies wear in the bullpen, they’re full of candy and all that good stuff and I’m a good handful of Swedish Fish deep and all of a sudden we are going 13 innings and Mike Hampton looks at me and I’m the last guy in the bullpen after Nick Vincent covers his inning and the phone rings and Mike Hampton looks at me and says “kid they aren’t calling for me, so you better get up and start firing some bullets.” So I get going and start getting loose and then I jog in from Houston cause now I think we are in the 13th inning, we’re up by one so it was hey rookie we need you to go get a save opening weekend in Houston which ended up being the World Series champs. I went out there and I felt good I got Gurriel was the first batter I faced and he hit a little weak ground ball to me, I made the play, I walked Gattis and I remember that I stepped off the mound after I walked Gattis and went to go lick my fingers to get a little substance, a little traction and I didn’t feel nervous but I remember going to my mouth and it was dry, there was no saliva in my mouth and I remember thinking, wow I’m competing out here but I must be nervous if my body is reacting like this it was crazy.
Q: Are you taking credit for the Astros World Series win giving them a boost of confidence?
A: Yea absolutely not.
Q: They didn’t ship you a ring for that one?
A: Nope they didn’t. I remember ESPN tweeted at me after the game saying that in all 30 major league ballparks that fly ball gets out of one of the 30 ballparks.
Q: Is it difficult being called up and down between leagues?
A: The option process is pretty tough. The travel obviously, when you’re going up to the big leagues you’re just stoked and it’s whatever it takes but just kind of the uncertainty of I’m going to be the long-reliever or am I going to be a starter? I’m in the rotation down in Triple-A where I am starting every fifth day and they call me up and I’m sitting in the bullpen for a couple days until they need the emergency guy and then I go in and give them four or five innings out of the pen to save the bullpen. It’s tough but I mean you’re still in the big leagues and it’s incredible and an awesome opportunity but it is not easy.
Q: What is your favorite part of Seattle?
A: It Is such a beautiful city I had no idea. I went up here last summer and I’ll be honest with you we broke camp and got up here in April and I was freezing and it was just kind of cold and wet and gloomy but then all of a sudden that second week in June rolls around and it is just perfect.
Q: Who’s the best hitter you have faced in your career so far?
A: Francisco Lindor was a good hitter, Edwin Encarnacion and George Springer was probably the best hitter.
Q: Why are you and Cody Bellinger such good buddies?
A: I played with him with the Dodgers. When I got traded in Rancho he and I played together and I mean seriously when we were together I was like a big brother to him and we’re boys and he moved to Newport for the offseason, we have the same agent so we worked out together at the same gym and just spent a lot of time together.
Q: What is your bet if you face him (Bellinger) in the Major Leagues?
A: Breaking balls down, fastballs up I mean make him swing it. We haven’t made that bet yet, he might need to buy me a new set of clubs.
Q: What went into your decision to go straight out of high school?
A: I’m kind of the black sheep of my family. I’m the only one without a graduate degree let alone a Bachelor’s. I mean my dad and my brother are both doctors, my mom’s got a Master’s, my brother is working on his but we just felt it was god’s plan for me to be going and we were comfortable with me going to pro ball.
Q: Has Robinson Cano taught you how to dress?
A: I’m not even in the same tax bracket to be buying that stuff but I can appreciate him he has a real strong watch game.
Q: Have you been hazed yet?
A: No not yet. I wore the pink backpack but that’s about it.
Q: Have you ever seen Nelson Cruz naked?
A: Yep I’ve seen everybody naked.
Q: What are your goals coming into the season?
A: To throw 100 innings in the big leagues. I understand with the year that I had last year I’m probably going to have to earn my way back up through Triple-A but I just want to have a consistent work load in the big leagues.
Q: When you pitch at Safeco do you like the roof closed or open?
A: Closed, it’s always raining.
Q: Have you had the chocolate covered crickets yet or no?
A: No I can’t believe people are eating those.
Q: Are you between the order window and the pickup window?
A: I’m at the pickup window, they are lagging a little bit.
Q: Can you explain your scholarship a little bit?
A: Yea, ever since I got drafted I was blessed with a good signing bonus that I haven’t really touched at all but something I always wanted to do was give back. My family and I started the De Jong family scholarship given away by the century club to a athlete coming out of the Moore League known as a high character person. This year is the fifth year of giving away that scholarship.
Q: What would be your pitch sequence against Trout this year?
A: I’m going to have to look at the tape on that one because I haven’t faced him and got to try and play the numbers on that one. That guy can hit.
Q: Is Mike Hampton the pitching coach and the hitting coach?
A: No but that guys rakes though.
Q: Have you pitched a bigger game than De Jong vs. Watson at Blair 2011?
A: I mean I pitched on Felix Hernandez bobble head night last year against the Texas Rangers. I mean I didn’t know 90 percent of the crowd and that De Jong/Watson game I knew pretty much everybody in the seats.
Q: What is the outlook like for the Mariners this year?
A: We rake. Robinson Cano is the All-Star game MVP, Nelson Cruz won a silver slugger, our hitting coach is going into Cooperstown next year. Our pitching needs production out of guys like me, Andrew Moore, Marco Gonzalez, Felix is looking good. If we pitch, we like where we are at.
Q: We have a bet with Matt Duffy and JP Crawford and whoever wins the Moore League in baseball this year the people of the other teams have that hat for a day would you like to be in our bet?
A: Yea I’m in on that.
Q: What is your favorite sports movie?