Tampa Bay right-hander Mike Ekstrom returns to talk about a former-teammate-turned-author and the importance of staying positive and not taking the game too seriously.
On former teammate Dirk Hayhurst‘s baseball writings: “I remember when he first talked about it. I didn’t think he was too serious about it. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s cool; he’s going to keep a diary,’ or whatever. But then after reading some of his entries in Baseball America, I realized that he has a real talent for writing. I just finished his book [The Bullpen Gospels] and to read through all the stories, some of which I had forgotten about, it is awesome to have something that I can hold on to. I can remember that these are stories from a minor league season. All of the stories are true, so it gives fans a whole new perspective of minor league life.”
On being a low-profile player in the minor leagues: “Most people probably still don’t know who I am. And I suppose it depends on your perspective on things, but some guys who are more cynical think, ‘What’s the point of me playing? I’m just roster filler.’ But in the clubhouse, everybody is the same for the most part. We all have good days and bad days, because there are so many games. Some guys worry too much and take it too seriously, maybe. I think that it’s just about having a good time. If you relax, have fun, and take it for what it is, I think it’s going to be a whole lot more enjoyable of an experience than it is for the guys who are complaining and seeing the glass as being half empty. When you’re in the minors, you have to have a positive outlook, otherwise it will just eat you up.”
On making it to the big leagues: “I remember in 2008, in Double-A, halfway through the season I had like a 7 [ERA] as a starter, and I thought my career might be ending. I remember sitting back and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to have a good time and enjoy my last two months of pro baseball and then move on from there. Two months later, I was in the big leagues. At that point, I was a little surprised at how things had worked out. But when I signed my first contract, it wasn’t just, ‘Oh, I want to get my signing bonus,’ it was ‘All right, do I have a realistic chance to make it to the big leagues?’ And every year, at the end of the year, if I still think that I can play, then yeah, I’ll keep going. If you’re in the minor leagues and don’t think that you can make it to the big leagues, I think that you’re just wasting your time. You have to be realistic, but that’s why you play in the minor leagues — to make it to the big leagues.”