By Paul Slater
Q: What was it like, playing in Seattle last year with the Mariners? A team in the playoff hunt for the first time in a very long while.
A: Man, Seattle was live. I’ve never seen anything like it. That last week or two, every game was sold out and you really felt like you were a part of the big leagues at that point. I mean you still get chills every time you come up to bat. Everyone just screaming your name and playing under that type of crowd every night, it was really different. It made you want to forget all the stats and just go out there and win. It was fun. It was finally some team baseball again and playing for more than just yourself.
Q: Did you feel the difference last year compared to the other years?
A: Definitely! I know for me and, honestly, I can speak for everybody, the fans give us energy. You could be hurting, you could be dead that day, but you go out there and you just see everyone out there screaming. You take the field and all of that pain goes away. All that goes out the window. You’re just in a whole different mode.
Q: What advice would you give to some young kid in Long Beach who is an outstanding baseball player or an outstanding athlete? How can young people who excel in athletics get to the next level?
A: Learn how to separate yourself from everybody else. If you really have talent, if you really want to go to the next level, don’t be like everyone else. Don’t just go through the motions. Some guys are out there because they’re just happy to be out there. For me, when I was growing up and in high school, I had that motivation to get to the big leagues, so nothing was going to stop me or get in my path.
I worked for it. After school, me and my friends stayed until eight or nine o’clock every night. You have to put in the work when no one sees you. You have to outwork everybody, because there’s someone else working every day, and if you don’t work that day, then someone is getting better than you. I would say you just have to really outwork everyone and separate yourself to really be the best. And then you have that confidence to know that you’re the best. There’s a difference from knowing you’re the best and being arrogant and cocky. If you know you’re good, go out and play. Let your playing do all the talking.
Q: Did somebody give you that advice when you were growing up? Did somebody tell you, “Hey you’re legit and you need to grind and you’ll be a big leaguer in four years?” Did anybody say that or did you just know?
A: Honestly, it was probably the opposite. You know us Lakewood players, we would always talk trash to each other. I think that’s what helped me, because if you’d get too high, you knew [one of your teammates] was going to say something to calm you right back down. I think that’s what helped me out a lot, too. You had no room to be great, because someone was going to talk you right back down to reality. I love that. It keeps you humble and it keeps you hungry, too.
Listen to the rest of this interview on Long Beach 908’s “Shoot Your Shot” Podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and SoundCloud!