The inside pitch with Miguel Batista
Relief pitcher Miguel Batista spent some time prior to Saturday’s game in the PNC Diamond Club, fielding questions from fans and moderator Rob Dibble for another installment of Inside Pitch Live:
You were voted the number one good guy in Major League baseball by Sporting News in 2003. In that same season you were suspended for 10 games when you hit another good guy, Cardinals first baseman Tino Martinez. That led to a bench-clearing brawl. Were you not able to use your good guy status to lower that suspension?
Well the good guy status–that was a mistake. They couldn’t find anybody else to give it to. No, but he thought it was intentional, then he started screaming stuff and before we knew it, there were people punching each other. It was kind of funny because I didn’t throw any punches. Everybody else fought but us. That was fine for me.
You played for nine different teams. What has the journey been like over the last 20 years?
Long. It’s been interesting. I’ve seen this team evolve from being in Canada, changing that ugly uniform we had to this–that was a good improvement–and seeing great superstars come up. It was funny because somebody told me the other day I’m the only guy that still plays that actually played with Andre Dawson.
What’s the secret to staying in great shape and pitching for 20 years in professional baseball? What do you have to do to keep yourself physically fit?
The first thing I learned is knowing yourself–knowing what you can do, knowing your role. Some guys they take weightlifting too hard. They forget that they have to be ready to pitch. Some of them want to look like body builders out there trying to pitch. That’s something that I don’t want to do, especially at my age. I’m one of the few dinosaurs left, as they called me the other day. I try to do the best I can just to be ready to pitch every day. I do certain maintenance. There are certain things that I need to do to be ready, especially when you’re the reliever. You have to be ready to pitch every night, regardless of how many pitches you threw the night before.
You’ve been called “the poet.” You’re written a novel called The Avenger of Blood. You have a poetry book out called Feelings in Black and White. What is your inspiration?
O boy…anything. The inspiration comes from everywhere. Writing a novel is a totally different thing. You can improvise, especially fiction. I believe fiction is the greatest thing in the world. You can be as good as God or as bad as the devil.
Poetry is a different thing. It’s a moment in time. You have to frame it when you see it and if you don’t, you may never remember it the same way.
On July 27th, Stephen Strasburg was scratched. You made the spot start. When you were introduced, fans booed you. You then went out and pitched five scoreless innings. Did you use the negative vibe that night as motivation?
No. I was surprised they started booing me before I hit the mound. I go, okay, you haven’t even seen me throw a pitch and you’re already booing? That’s no good. But when I got to the mound, I thought about what I needed to know. We had a game plan to execute. There’s a lot going on, especially for pitchers. We have to be alert. You have to block everything out and execute your game plan.
After the game, you had some good comments. You said, “Imagine you go to see Miss Universe and you end up having Miss Iowa.” Do you wish you would have compared yourself to Miss South Dakota or Miss Wyoming? …I actually thought it was funny.
You would be one of the few. My original thought was that people are booing without seeing the product. They just heard Miguel Batista’s pitching and they start going “Booooo.” Well, I guess after the night was over, Miss Iowa wasn’t as ugly as he thought he was.
And then she came here and now you guys are friends.
I wouldn’t call that friends (laughing). I had to explain to her how the whole thing went out of proportion.
What would you like to do when your playing days are over?
That’s a helluva question. I don’t know. I would have to find something to do. I have a lot of interests and things that have already tried–from broadcasting to writing for ESPN. But I haven’t actually pinpointed what I want to do yet.
You also play the saxophone, which I see carry everywhere on the road with you. How many years have you been playing?
I tried on and off for two year. But it’s like being married to a woman from a different planet. We don’t understand each other.
Your first year in Arizona in 2001, you won the World Series. Is that your greatest baseball memory?
In a lot of ways, it is. I think what makes it special is the fans. We were out there after the World Series was over and people were looking at us like we were rock stars. I understand that probably Randy Johnson is used to that kind of attention, but not me. I was going down the street and people were waving at me like they knew me. I was like, “Okay…” I wasn’t even used to that much attention.
Who would you love to strike out?
That would be a good question. I don’t know. If I had a chance, I would like to strike out Jesus.