Posted at 8:20 PM on September 14, 2007
by David Zingler
There’s been a lot gloom and doom surrounding the Twins this year, but we shouldn’t forget that this organization is loaded with young, quality pitchers. That is Terry Ryan’s legacy. One of them is 25-year-old Scott Baker, who showed flashes of brilliance this season and could be a top of the rotation starter next season.
I caught up with Baker after he signed a few autographs before tonight’s game:
ME: You’ve spent most of the season in the big leagues – a first for you – talk about that experience.
BAKER: Overall, it’s been wonderful. Obviously, the results have been a little bit better than last year, but it was a great learning experience. I just tried to take each start and try to build off it. I try to get a little better every day and I think, for the most part, I did that.
ME: Did having the prior experience help you out this year?
BAKER: I think so – more so with the mental aspect of the game. You learn to deal with things a little better. As far as that goes, last year was actually a blessing in disguise.
ME: Does the ‘awe factor’ – being amazed by everything – go away the second or third time around?
BAKER: I don’t know if it ever goes away. I just think you learn to deal with it in a different manner. All of the feelings are the same; it’s just about how you react to different situations.
ME: When people think about your performance this year, they are going to remember your 1 hitter. Where does that rank among your highlights?
BAKER: Nothing compares to seeing my children being born. As far as baseball goes, it’s by far the best moment – without a doubt. Obviously, we’d have liked to go farther this season and have an opportunity to play in the playoffs, but as far as a regular season game, that’s by far the best.
ME: Unfortunately, you guys are out of the race right now, but you still have a chance at a winning record. Does that mean something to this team?
BAKER: Absolutely. Regardless what the situation is or where we’re at in the standings, we come to play. There’s a lot of pride in how we play this game and, by no means, are we going to pack it up.
ME: What are your plans for the off-season?
BAKER: I am going to be on daddy duty for a little while (laughs). I am going to take it easy and eventually start my conditioning and get ready to do it all over again.
ME: You’re in the rotation now and probably expect to be there again next year, but there are a lot of young pitchers in this organization that you know pretty well from the minor leagues – does that push you even harder?
BAKER: You know what – I don’t think so. I am going to go out there and do the absolute best I can. I am not going to let the situation dictate whether I go out there and do any more or less. There are some great young arms and obviously Santana and, hopefully, Silva will be back. It should be a great rotation again and by no means do I expect them just to give me a spot. I expect to compete in spring training.
ME: Obviously, the big news around here is Terry Ryan resigning, how much did you get a chance to know him?
BAKER: He was unbelievable...He travels to the minor leagues – I guarantee you – more than any other GM...even the lower levels. He’s the guy who comes and picks you up (at the airport) when you first get called up. He was hard working...I know he will be missed.
ME: I’ve talked to other players who’ve said that he even gets to know the wives and families of the players well.
BAKER: He put a lot of emphasis on family in this organization and guys with families really do appreciate that.
ME: And pro sports aren’t usually family friendly.
BAKER: Nope. They’re not.