Meet a Buckeye | Baseball: Hard-throwing right-hander likes curved bill cap, low pants

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Question: Playing baseball in Ohio means a lot of road games to start the season. Did you get some sun in Florida?

Answer: We definitely got some the first weekend. Being in Ohio, you sometimes don’t see the sun for weeks at a time so you try to make sure you get as much as you can on these early season trips.

Q You guys played your first four games in Port Charlotte, then three in Orlando; any preference?

A You can’t complain about either one. They’re both great locations, but I guess I’d say Port Charlotte because of the weather we had this year.

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Q How does the time on the road pull your team together?

A It’s awesome. It makes it a brotherhood because you spend so much time together. You room with guys on the road and are always on a bus or plane. The amount of time we spend together really brings us together.

Q Is there a team prankster you have to keep your eye on during these trips?

A I don’t know if there’s just one, but there definitely are guys you have to keep your eye on and always know where they are — whether it’s in the dugout or at the hotel.

Q You are back to being a starter this season after spending all of last year in the bullpen. Does that please you?

A Definitely. It’s very different between starting and relieving, but as long as I’m on the mound helping the team win as much as I can, then I’ll be happy.

Q You’re a pretty big dude (6 feet 4, 210 pounds). Should we assume you are a hard-throwing right-hander?

A I guess that’s fair. My fastball is my go-to pitch and I throw a majority of fastballs, no doubt about it.

Q Are left-handers really a little odd, or is that just a myth?

A That is absolutely not a myth. They’re always a little strange, especially lefty pitchers.

Q What other pitches do you throw, and have you developed some since coming to Ohio State?

A Besides the fastball, I throw a circle-change, a slider and a curveball. I’ve always thrown them, but there’s no doubt that those pitches have come a long way since my freshman year due to a great coaching staff and a lot of hard work.

Q How gratifying was it to be named a captain for your senior season?

A It’s an honor, especially because it’s voted on by your teammates. Knowing that I have the respect of my peers and teammates means a lot.

Q Indiana made the College World Series last year, the first Big Ten team to do that since 1984. What did that do, mentally, for the other teams in the conference?

A It’s big to see that a team from the Midwest and our conference can have that kind of success. We played with them last year and had an opportunity to beat them and win a series, so it gives us some confidence knowing that we’re not that far off and can make a run like that.

Q Let’s switch to baseball fashion: Do you like a little curve in the bill of your hat or are you one of those guys who wears it straight and pulled down?

A I’m an old-school guy, so I don’t like the flat brim. I like a little curve to my bill, and I think my dad would be proud of me saying that.

Q And what about socks? Do you let the scarlet show or wear your pants as low as they can go?

A Right now, I wear them as low as they can go, but I’m trying to work with our equipment guy to see if I can get a pants-up look here soon.

Q You being a Cleveland guy, should I even ask what your favorite team is?

A Nope. You don’t have to ask. Cleveland all the way.

Q What about your favorite all-time player?

A It’s a tough question. I’ve always been a huge Jim Thome fan. Growing up in the ’90s and watching him play, he’s the man.

Q What’s your favorite baseball movie?

A You can’t beat The Sandlot. It’s a classic.

— Ray Stein

rstein@dispatch.com

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