The baseball boy interviews Mark Trumbo
For this installment for Halo HQ from the BakerBoys&Baseball, the Baker Boys wrap up a run of 10 games in 16 days, visiting 3 ballparks before the All Star Break. Highlighted for Zac by the Angels three game series with the Seattle Mariner’s, which marked the homecoming for Mark Trumbo.
After wearing enemy colors to the Big A, Zac was able to catch up with Mark outside the stadium after the Sunday finale. Armed with a few great photos he snapped from the series and a letter asking Mark for a interview, Mark was kind enough to make time before his game on Tuesday down in San Diego and meet with the us for an interview. Just a few weeks away from his 9th Birthday, the baseball boy took the lead and with only a small assist from the older Baker Boy conducted his first interview.
For those of you that have been following the BakerBoys&Baseball, you know that Zac’s favorite Baseball player is Mark Trumbo. If you are not familiar with the BakerBoys&Baseball, these articles will cover the adventures and experiences in baseball of Zac and Steve Baker. You can read our story here: http://baseballboy.mlblogs.com/. We will both be contributing to the articles. We aim to provide an in depth look into the game, including charities supported by the players and teams, professions in the game outside of being a ball player, and a peak into the lives of the players.
Instead of trying to take the interview and tell a story, we decided the interview is the story. We recorded the interview and while some moments are going to be left for Zac’s personal memories, I decided to transcribe the Q&A session between my dude and his baseball hero. After playing back the audio, a few things stood out to me. First, Zac was cool as a cucumber. He was prepared with some great questions and for an eight year old sitting across from his hero, his poise was impressive. I am one proud Dad, to say the least. Equally impressive were Mark’s thoughtful and intelligent answers.
Before we get into the interview, it needs to be noted that the Los Angeles Angels have been on an absolutely terror, posting an 18-5 record since a three game series against the division leading Houston Astros began on June 22. That stretch included a 12-3 run, starting on July 1st when Jerry Dipoto tried to force Artie Moreno’s hand with an ultimatum that either he or the longest tenured manager in the big leagues, Mike Scoiscia, had to go. That back fired for Dipoto, but it seems to have ignited a team who’s veteran leaders have rallied behind their manager.
When the Astros rolled to town, they brought with them a 5.5 game lead over the Angels in the A.L. West. The Angels were mired in third place at 35-35, looking up at both Texas and Houston. Following tonight’s 7-0 drubbing of the resurgent Minnesota Twins, the Angels now sit at 53-40 and hold a two game lead over the Astros. Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, now first and second in homeruns in the AL, have been hot for some time now, but the recent success runs deeper than the powerful duo. The offense, while still struggling to hit with runners in scoring position now has many guys feeling it at the plate. The pitching staff, especially the starters has been firing on all cylinders. Some tough decisions loom with Jared Weaver nearing a return from the DL and the trade deadline looming. The Angels have some pitching assets they can dangle as trade bait, but do you risk bringing in a fresh face, messing with team chemistry, and sacrificing the depth of arms that may sustain future seasons.
One last note before we are on to the main event, Jerry Dipoto deserves at least a nod of the cap for stock piling those arms. The trades of homegrown talent and crowd favorites may not have always been the most popular, but the depth of arms can’t be overlooked.
Interview with Mark Trumbo
Zac’s Questions are first
Mark’s Answers follow in Italics
Who first taught you to play baseball?
I think my Dad was the first one who taught me how to play baseball. From as early as I can remember, we like most kids, were throwing the ball around and I started Little League probably around 6 years old over in Villa Park. I think the Little League Astros were the first team I played on.
Who were the people that had the most influence on you as a baseball player?
That’s a good question. I am going to probably leave a few out, I think first and foremost, my Dad. He had a real passion for the game. He grew up going to South Gate High School. He was a really good outfielder. He was a Right Fielder and he played his Freshman year at USC. He had a nice working knowledge of the game. I went to the Mark Cresse School of Baseball, which was pretty prevalent in Southern California. They had a lot of quality coaches and I did that every summer, for many many years, at least 10 years. So instead of summer school or YMCA, that was how I spent my summers. Also, Tom Tereschuck, my high school coach my freshman and sophomore years. We won the CIF title under him in 2002. He was really demanding and really hard. Quite honestly, a lot of the guys, especially if you were a younger player, you were really intimidated by him because he asked a lot of you. He yelled and he screamed, but in hind sight, he probably helped me more that anybody as far as growing up and taking accountability. He helped me taking that next step in my career at that time.
Is it hard if coaches sometimes yell at you?
It is hard sometimes. I think you have to try instead of getting emotional, and it comes with age and experience, but you have to realize what the coaches are trying to do. Very rarely is someone just yelling to yell. It is probably because they see you making the same mistakes over and over without changing something. I see coaches yell when the whole team isn’t bringing the right energy or attitude and that can be very frustrating. I always take it as a challenge and try to take something away from what the coach is saying to try and make myself better.
Who was your favorite pro player or players when you were little?
Well, I grew up kind of like you, close to Angels Stadium so there were a lot of Angels Players: Tim Salmon, was one of my favorites and Troy Glaus, Troy Percival, Adam Kennedy, and Darin Erstad are the names that come to mind.
Do you have a favorite baseball movie?
I have probably watched Field of Dreams over a hundred times. It is probably my favorite baseball movie. There is another one, Bull Durham, that you will probably watch down the road, which is probably a tad more accurate to how the baseball life really is.
When did you hit your first homerun?
So we will go with the professional one, since I don’t remember my younger days. I hit my first one in 2011, probably two or three weeks into the season off a pitcher who’s name at the time was Fausto Carmona, in Angel’s Stadium right down the left field line.
Growing up near Anaheim, were you an Angels fan?
I was a big Angels fan. For whatever reason, we would go to see the Blue Jays and the Mariner’s a lot. Kind of like you guys sitting next to first base, I remember sitting near the Right Field line, usually near the foul pole. It was probably no coincidence that Tim Salmon, probably the guy I was closest to was the guy that I rooted for the most.
Were there any other teams you were a fan of?
You know I went to a handful of Dodger games, but I never really rooted for that team. The Angels were the only team I rooted for, but I rooted for other players around the league because you see guys that are good players, you can’t help but like them. I liked guys like Ken Griffey, Jr and The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas when I was your age. I had a pair of Frank Thomas model cleats.
What positions did you play as a kid? What was your favorite position?
This one is a very easy one, when I was a kid and all the way through high school I loved pitching. I actually got drafted as a pitcher. My arm had some wear and tear so I started playing a position. Pitching was what I really loved doing. When I wasn’t pitching I remember playing 3rd and 1st and Left Field, which coincidently enough are mostly what I have played in the big leagues too. My favorite position is the one I have been playing most recently, Right Field. I didn’t get to play Right Field in High School, one of my friends played right. Being a big Tim Salmon fan probably plays to the psychology as to why I like it.
Did you play other sports as a kid?
I did, I played basketball. In this day and age, especially with the one sport focus nowadays, I was the first generation to have that, and I think I missed out at lot on other things. I think you are such a better athlete if you can play other sports. There is no reason to just play one, if you can play other sports you are better off for it.
When you were a kid, what is the best piece of advice you were given, baseball related or not?
The single best piece of advice I got, not sure if it’s a saying or a phrase, but the thing I am most proud of is what I learned from my parents, having a strong work ethic and getting good grades. I have done some things in this game, but one of the things I am most proud of is getting a full scholarship to play baseball at USC. Which I ended up not using, but having the grades to get into college and relieve that financial burden from my parents was something I was really happy with. Without the grades, you are not going to be able to do that. For kids coming up, the baseball and athletics is one thing, but you have to do well in school.
If you couldn’t be a baseball player, what career do you think you would have had?
Well it’s probably changed a few times, I did do two years of college on-line when I was playing in Orem, Utah in rookie ball and I studied business administration. So I got my AA out of the way and so I always thought a business career. But, like I was saying earlier I have so many friends in various police departments that I think I can see myself doing that once the baseball side of things wraps up.
I’ve heard you play the guitar. When did you first learn to play the guitar and how often do you get to play?
I do play. I started when I was 22 years old. My trainer, in the off season, asked if I wanted to start playing, so we started at the same time as a hobby. I did play drums a lot earlier though. I started when I was 12 or 13. I always liked listening to music and then I decided maybe I should try and play a little bit. I started taking lesson on the drums at 12 or 13 and the guitar was later. I play almost every day. I travel with a small one. When I am home I obviously have my equipment there. It’s a good way to get your head off maybe your day job a little bit.
My favorite bands are Green Day, Foo Fighters, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and Guns N’ Roses. My favorite musician is Bruno Mars. Who are your favorite bands or musicians?
I don’t know if we have enough time, but you know what, a lot of my favorite bands are already on your list. I think Led Zeppelin would be close to my favorite. Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses are pretty neck and neck. Anything classic rock, I absolutely love and will listen to. My favorite guitar player is probably Slash from Guns N’ Roses. I will listen to some other stuff too, a wide range of things, but anything classic rock is my favorite.
What’s your favorite song to play?
Rockin’ In The Free World by Neil Young
As a musician, you always have something you are working on that is new. What are your working on?
Right now, we are actually in the process of recording a cover album. I was going to do it in Arizona. It’s going to be seven songs with professional musicians and tentatively Bronson Arroyo is going to sing on it. That’s what I’ve been working on. There’s a Zeppelin song, a Montrose song, and a Pearl Jam song and some others.
Have you ever played in front of a big crowd? If so, how big and how does that compare to playing in a big league ball park.
I have played a number of times with some friend’s bands at The Ranch in Anaheim and there is probably a couple of hundred people there. I have played live quite a few times I guess. Playing for the Diamondbacks Fan Fest this year, there were a lot of people. There were a couple thousand probably. Bronson, myself, Aaron Hill, and a couple of the other guys that we like jamming. To be honest, it was quite nerve racking. Just like anything, just like a baseball game, that first at bat or that first inning on defense, it’s just natural. It’s that nervous energy that you can channel into doing your best work sometimes. It’s actually fairly similar to playing in a big game.
What do you like to do for fun during the off season?
So, I usually take a trip every year after the season gets over. It’s just something I have done with some friends over the last 5, 6, 7 years. This last year I went to Europe. The year before it was Iceland. I have been to Japan. I’ve been to Australia, both Canada and Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and all over basically. I like just getting away for a little while and doing something else. Seeing different cultures and having a little more real world knowledge, I guess.
How important do you think it is to work out and stay in shape during the off season.
I think, especially in today’s day and age, it’s more important than ever. I know back as recently as the 90’s, guys wouldn’t do anything in the off season. They would just get away and I think a lot of guys would actually fall out of shape and they would use spring training to get back into shape. But, with how fierce the competition is now if you come in out of shape to spring, it is really looked down on. Sometimes, you might set yourself back to where you might not make that ball club. I will take a little bit of time off and give my legs, especially a rest. But come, November 1st, we are back in the weight room, back getting ready for the following year.
What are your favorite exercises?
Favorite exercise? I am trying to think what would be my favorite. You know, it would have to probably be something legs. Maybe a front squat or something like that. If you don’t have strong legs you are not going to have that power. I think legs and core strength are the big things in this game that you really need to stay on top of.
You were drafted right out of high school. We know you were offered a full scholarship to play baseball at USC. Would that decision have been different if a team other than the Angels drafted you?
You know it’s quite possible. I think with the Angels, it was a huge perk being drafted by them because I was a huge Angels fan. There were a couple of other teams that had a lot of interest too. I think part of it is a business decision too. If you are offered something that you may or may not be able to pass up, in this case, financially I probably would have signed. My goal was to always be a Major League Baseball Player. If that’s the ultimate goal, you have to try and figure out what is the best route to get to where you want to be.
What were the fun things and the challenges when playing in the minor leagues?
Well I think the challenges probably outweighed the fun things. I think the funniest part about baseball, other than the competition side of it, is the friendships you make. I have so many friends that I was teammates with, even if it was only for a year and they are going to be friends for life. The challenges are you are not yet at the level you want to be at and the conditions are pretty rough and the fields sometimes are pretty rough and you see guys sometimes that don’t have the same attitude you do. There are some guys that complain a lot and they are not happy with things. You can’t hang around those guys because they are going to bring you down. I think, like anything, you have to surround yourself with good people. I think I have a lot of good friends that I have played with and a lot of them actually made it to the Major Leagues. My buddy, Hank Conger, is with the Astros and then Peter Bourjos is with the Cardinals and those are two guys I came up playing with for almost ten years.
Your regular friends, versus friends who are teammates you have a little different bond. You have a little bit more freedom to, not necessarily criticize, but rather to push each other.
Sure, sure you got it. You’ve got to look and your buddy and I always try to remember what my friends are doing when they are playing well. Then, maybe when thing aren’t as good I can say hey maybe this looks a little different, or this was your mindset. Just to be a good teammate, which is equally as important.
You always seem so calm, how excited were you when you were called up to the Major Leagues?
I was as stoked as I have probably ever been. I had just finished my season in AAA for the Salt Lake Bees and my manager called myself and I think Hank. Peter was already up. Hank and I got called in after the last game and he said we were going to the Major Leagues. For someone who had always had the dream, it was basically someone telling you your dream was about to come true, or just did. I called my Dad right away and I talked to my family and told some of my friends. I drove from Salt Lake City to Anaheim as quick as possible. That will be one of the most special times I will ever have.
How do you tune out hecklers?
Sometimes it can be a little more difficult, but you have got to know you are a good ball player no matter what someone chooses to say. I try to use it as motivation. They easiest way to get those guys to be quiet is to do something good on the field. It’s pretty funny how quickly people will change their tune if you do something well. You know if you go into certain stadiums, like Oakland, they are going to talk a lot of trash and you just have to have a good attitude with it. You just laugh and say thanks. Ultimately, they came to the game and paid money and they are giving you energy and it’s your choice how to use it. It’s never been my style, but to each their own I guess.
Who have been your favorite teammates and why?
I guess we can list them, obviously, Hank and Peter. Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar, you don’t want to leave anybody out. Then with the Diamondbacks, AJ Pollack and Paul Goldschmidt were the guys. Cliff Pennington was a great guy and Aaron Hill and Cody Ross. You could name basically your whole roster, but those guys are guys I got pretty close to and formed bonds with and have really helped me out and we still keep in touch all the time.
Not wanting you to have to call anybody out, but we know there are always going to be challenging teammates that may be tough to play with. What characteristics have you experienced that have made teammates tough to play with.
Especially in the minor leagues, where guys aren’t getting paid very well. You are playing in towns that aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. The complaining can spiral. If you get enough guys that are doing it and next thing you know your team isn’t playing very well. I think if you can take some of the responsibility as a leader, and you don’t always have to get into an argument with a guy, but try and change the mindset. Do something to bring everyone up. There is enough of the downer stuff out there that can contribute to that.
Who have been your favorite Major League Coach or Manager?
You know, I appreciate anyone who gives me a chance to earn a living. So, all of the managers have been great to me. By putting my name in the lineup, that gives me the chance to go out there and play every day. So, picking and choosing is a little tough because at this level you are not really looking for a friend. You are looking for someone that is going to inspire you and get the most out of you. If they are putting you in the lineup, that is worth its weight in gold, basically.
You have played several positions as a pro. What is your favorite position to play?
Right Field! Right Field is my favorite.
What is your favorite ball park to play in?
I think, I will list a few, SafeCo Field. Obviously, Angel’s Stadium is up there. I like the energy in Dodger’s Stadium as well and I have hit really well in Coors Field, so we will list Coors Field too.
What pitcher or pitchers do you look forward to facing? Which ones are the toughest for you?
I guess, every pitcher presents unique challenges and there are probably some pitchers I have hit better. I think it is easier to asker who the tougher ones are. Max Scherzer had been really tough, Yu Darvish, and Felix Hernandez, who I had a little bit of success against, but still the way his ball moves. Making good decisions against those guys is really challenging.
How hard was it when you were traded from the Angels to D-backs?
It was difficult. You know, it’s a business at the end of the day. You can look at it logically and say I was traded for a couple of starting pitchers that have been slotted in to the Angels rotation, so you can see why they did it. From a personal stand point, going from your childhood team to a completely different team was challenging . But, I feel fortunate because I came with a great year and a half with Arizona and a lot of great teammates that I feel very fortunate to have meet and hung out with and have now obviously moved again and am making new friends here (in Seattle).
Was it easier the next time when you were just traded from D-backs to Mariners?
I think it is equally as challenging, especially mid season. You have your life in order and your living situation and you are kind of dialed in. In this case, I was literally on a plane the next morning. I played an afternoon game and then they said, here is your plane ticket, you are playing in Seattle tomorrow. It’s a little bit of a challenge, but you are going to get through it. You have to have the mindset that you can overcome anything and it’s going to be for the best.
You have kind of touched on this, but what has been the best part about playing for different teams?
If I had to give a different answer, in my case, the knowledge you can gain by working with different coaches. A lot of the information is the same, but there are a lot of different ways to do it or think about it. I am fortunate to have worked with Mickey Hatcher with the Angels worked exceptionally. He has been my favorite hitting coach. Then I have had great guys in Turner Ward and Mark Grace in Arizona and now Edgar Martinez. There is this wealth of knowledge that you can tap into and ask them all these questions to try and improve your own game. I think if all you have is one voice and one team for all of these years you don’t get to see the other side of things.
How did it feel to return to the Big A playing for another team?
You know, it felt a little strange at first. There was maybe some more nerves that came with it because it is a unique situation. You look around at guys like Hank that had gone in there with the Astros fairly recently and he said at first it’s going to be a new experience and you might be a little nervous. Then, after the first at bat, it is business as usually and that is what I found the case to be.
You have now played in both the AL and NL, do you think it is better to have the DH or have the pitchers hit?
Well, you know, you will get a lot of different opinions on this. I feel the way the game is unique and I like having a DH in one league and pitchers hitting in the other, especially for some pitchers that can hit. It’s a different style of game. The benches are used differently. You will see tonight, we will have to make adjustments and everyone will get in the game at some point because that is just the way things work. For me, my personal style of game fits better in the American League, but some other guys are better National League type players.
Do you think the NL will eventually go with a DH?
Why did you pick the numbers 44, 15, and now 35?
I was going to wear 37, but Scott Downs was going to wear 37, so I had to pick a new one. Napoli being the most recent to wear 44, and the power hitter type and Reggie Jackson too. I figured 44 was a nice number for a guy with my type of game. When I got traded to the Diamondbacks, there is a pretty good player that wears 44 and I started trying to determine what would be another cool number, and I said Tim Salmon wore 15 and another one of my good friends Dan Haren also wears 15, so that made a lot of sense. For 35, I got a list of available numbers and I had to make a decision in about a matter of a minute in a half and 35 looked like, it looked like a cool number for me. I didn’t put a ton of thought into it, it was just the best of what was available.
What is your favorite baseball memory or story?
It’s has got to be getting my first hit. The last day of the year in 2010 against my current teammate, Mark Lowe, a two RBI single. I had started out a little slow. I think I was 0-14 and you assume you are going to get a chance to play again next year and make the team, but there is no guarantees. So, I was really fortunate that I got a hit in the last at bat, I think it was the top of the 9th inning in Texas.
Free Agency is just around the corner for you, after next season, correct?
I have one more season and I will have played six years, so that is correct.
If the Angels were interested would you want to come back and play for them?
Absolutely. You want to go where you are wanted. If the Angels were interested or if any of the other teams think highly enough and give you job, or offer you a contract you have got to say thank you and then review what is best for you. If you are lucky enough to get six seasons in at the highest level and grind your way through it, that is one of the cool things, you do get to choose where you play after that.
What is the best advice, baseball related or not, you would want to give to your fans?
I guess, it goes along with the work ethic part of it. Giving everything you have on that given day. You know a lot of days you may not feel your best, but if you can give everything you do have, you can always sleep easy, whether you get the results or not, you gave it everything that you have and didn’t hold back. I think that is the way I try to do it and it gives you the peace of mind that you did what you could.
Not diminishing the extremely rewarding experiences our previous interviews have been, but the chance to sit down with Mark was simply awesome. Sure reporters should be objective, but sitting down as your then eight year old son interviews his favorite player will be tough to top. I am extremely grateful to Mark for sharing his time with us. For Zac, the experience was simply one of the best moments of his life. I asked him on our drive back north from San Diego what his favorite part of the day was. He answered, “the whole interview”.
Getting a deeper look into the makeup of someone you look up to can sometimes reveal flaws that you don’t see on the surface. I think I say this objectively, in having this experience, instead of revealing flaws, the positive attributes Zac sees in Mark were actually magnified. It’s safe to say that Mark would credit his Mom and Dad with teaching him that you get what you want in life if you are willing to work for it. I love that Mark spoke of the importance of getting an education. As a father, those are some of the most important lessons I hope my children learn. I want them to know that they can get anything they want out of life, if they are willing to put in hard work. The lesson should also be that once you obtain a goal, the hard work doesn’t end. A good foundation, starting with an education is essential too.
The next installment from the BakerBoys&Baseball will be out soon. We will be attending C.J. Wilson’s Children Charities annual event, Bats and Brushes. He puts on a great event, supporting a great cause. You can get tickets to the event here: http://www.leftylefty.com/
We will also be sitting down with another great father and son duo we have gotten to know at The Big A, the Trout Net team. Mike Trout knows who these guys are and you should too.
We have several interview requests out there and hope to have something fun to share with all of you. In the mean time, keep filling the in between pauses with meaningful, thoughtful moments and go out to the ball park and have some fun with your friends and family!
Here is the link to the current installment from The BakerBoys&Baseball: