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May 17, 2010
Five Minutes with Ron Mahay
Ron Mahay has had an atypical career, to say the least. The Twins reliever is in his 20th professional season, and with his ninth organization, how he got from point A to point B, and beyond, is what makes him unique. Originally drafted by the Red Sox in 1991, he made his big-league debut as an outfielder in 1995 before returning to the minor leagues and being converted to a pitcher. Mahay was also a replacement player during the 1994-1995 work stoppage and, as a result, has been denied admission to the MLB Players Association.
David Laurila: How would you describe your career thus far?
Ron Mahay: It’s been a great experience. Obviously, I was an outfielder for the first five years of my career. After that I was very fortunate and blessed to have the team I was with let me make the transition from hitter to pitcher and I haven’t looked back since.
DL: Coming up through the minor leagues, were you conflicted as to whether your career was better served in the outfield or on the mound?
RM: Not in that respect. I always knew in the back of my mind that if hitting didn’t work out I would try to pitch and if it didn’t happen with the team that I was with, I would try to go on with another team. I was originally going to be drafted to pitch, as well. Boston took me to play the outfield, but Pittsburgh was going to take me as a pitcher if I was still available when they picked again.
DL: Was there ever a time where you thought about walking away from the game?
RM: When I was a hitter, I couldn’t tell you how many times I went through, “This will never go; I just want to hang them up.” Hitting for me was such a battle. Playing the outfield was fun for me. It was easy and I knew how to do that really well, but when it came to hitting, I wanted to quit many, many times. I couldn’t tell you how many times.
DL: What about after you moved to the mound?
RM: No, because I knew that I was a left-hander and that I threw hard. It was just a matter of building that confidence on the mound, which is what would carry me. I always knew that I could make it as a pitcher. I’ve never doubted that.
DL: Before becoming a pitcher, you were a replacement player in the 1994-1995 work stoppage. How has that impacted your career?
RM: It doesn’t really affect me. The only thing I don’t get from that is the check every spring training.
DL: What went into the decision to be a replacement player?
RM: I was in a spot where it was a one-time tempter to actually make it to the big leagues and/or play professional baseball. It was basically filling out a kid’s dream, and I was put into a spot where there was no turning back from it. It was either you help us out or you go home and wait for the phone call again -- for us to call you back -- if that was the case. When you have a head guy from an organization come down on you and ask you, point-blank, if you would help them out, and there is no timetable of when they might call you back…my fate and my dreams were in the hands of this one answer. I mean, it took some time to convince myself that it was something I really wanted to pursue. I did what I thought was best for me at the time.