Tagged: Nolan Ryan
Fearlessness and confidence
Feels great to take two of three from the first-place Reds – though coming up short on Wednesday was a killer. Well, sort of a killer. The way our guys battled back was awesome to see. Sometimes you reveal more about yourself as a player and as a team in a loss than in a win. What this team showed was confidence and fearlessness. There wasn’t a moment in our dugout that we didn’t think we could come back and win. These are the most competitive guys I’ve ever been around.
It’s especially great to see Pablo and Freddy Sanchez find their strokes and terrorize pitchers again. With those guys exploding the way they are, this is an awesome line-up from top to bottom. We’re conceding nothing to the Padres. It’s a steep climb, but there are more than 30 games left to make up ground. And if the Padres never falter, then good for them. Congratulations. They deserve the division title. We’ll just have to get the wild card.
OK. Let’s answer some of your questions.
Were you always so confident, even in high school?
Absolutely not. I was very shy in high school, if you can believe it. I broke out of my shell at the University of Miami when I got around guys like Burrell. I learned how to believe in myself – and I learned how to project confidence even when I didn’t feel very confident. I wouldn’t have made it in baseball if I hadn’t developed a strong belief in myself. I never really believed in myself in high school – considering I had one home run in my entire high school career, I didn’t have a whole lot to feel confident about. I learned how to work hard in high school and I continued to work hard my entire career. But you need more than hard work. You look at David Eckstein and how determined that guy is. You think there’s no way this guy can be a major-leaguer – and then he just goes out and beats you. He works hard and he’s as determined to succeed as anyone I’ve seen. Determination and confidence are so important in this game.
Why do players seem to hang with the same guys in the dugout?
We’re tight as a team, but of course you’re closer to some players than others. I have a lot of history with Burrell and Aaron Rowand and a few other guys. So I’m more likely to hang with them in the dugout and talk about situations in the game and get their thoughts.
Do you have a favorite restaurant?
The truth is we don’t have a lot of time to go out when we have a home stand. But There’s a sushi place I like that’s not far from the park – but I can’t remember the name of it!
Did you learn how to speak Spanish when you were growing up in Texas? Is there a lot of Spanish spoken in the clubhouse?
I didn’t learn Spanish – but I sure wish I had. There’s a lot of Spanish in the clubhouse, as you might imagine. I know some words, none of which I can repeat here.
What are your hobbies when you’re not playing baseball?
My kid! When you’re a father of a two-year-old, you don’t have much time for anything but him. Before Jayce was born, I liked to paint. Oils and airbrush. Mostly landscapes. In a high school drawing class, I drew a portrait of Barry Bonds from a photo in a magazine. When I was with the Rays and we were playing the Giants, I sent the drawing over to Giants clubhouse through Dustin Mohr. Bonds signed it, “To Huff. God Bless. Barry Bonds.” I have it hanging in my memorabilia room at home.
Do you really have Transformer tattoos? And what’s the tattoo on your right forearm?
Yes, I do have Transformer tattoos. Instead of getting an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other – which pretty much captures my personality – I decided to get an Autobot and a Decepticon. I’m a huge Transformers fan. The tattoo on my right forearm is a four-leaf clover. It was the first tattoo I ever got. My wife and I are both of Irish descent, so we got engaged three years ago, we decided to both get four-leaf clovers. (Hers is on her wrist.) I also have my father’s name and a guitar on my left arm, and my son’s name and little footprints on the left side of my chest. When our next child is born – my wife is pregnant – I’ll have that child’s name plus handprints on the right side of my chest.
How many bats do you go through in a season and what do you do with your broken bats?
I go through about 24. MLB takes the broken ones because they’re studying whether certain types of wood break more easily than others.
What was your scariest moment in a game?
A pitcher on my team was hit in the head by a line drive. The ball hit him so hard it bounced into the stands behind home plate. I thought he was dead. But all he had was a big lump and a bruise. (The hit was ruled a ground-rule double.)
What’s your favorite city on the road?
Definitely Chicago. It’s such a beautiful city and there’s so much to do. We can walk everywhere from the hotel. Great restaurants and clubs.
Who’s the toughest pitcher you ever faced?
Pedro Martinez. When I faced him for the first time, every pitch he threw was the best pitch I’d ever seen.
Who were your baseball role models growing up?
Nolan Ryan. I grew up in Texas so I loved Nolan Ryan. One of the guys I most admired when I got to the big leagues was Ken Griffey Jr. He’s just so down-to-earth and approachable. He handles being a superstar the way you hope you would if you were ever in his position.
I know I didn’t get to all the questions. I’ll try to catch up next time. Keep coming out the ballpark to cheer us on. The fans in San Francisco are the best in baseball and you guys give us an awesome home-field advantage. So I’ll see you at the park.