Ron Mahay has had plenty of experience with the ups and downs of professional baseball. The 38-year-old Twins reliever has pitched in the big leagues for each of the past 14 seasons, and over that time has also appeared in over 200 minor-league games, all but a handful at the Triple-A level. He has spent parts of 11 seasons in the minors over that 14-year stretch.
David Laurila: Demotions are often political, and unfair, in the eyes of players. How do you deal with that?
Ron Mahay: It’s tough. It’s a tough mental game. It’s 90 percent mind over matter and there is no stopping the business part of it; it’s just the way it is. Sometimes it’s a numbers game where they want to see a younger kid come up, or whatever the story may be, but it’s disheartening when you get sent down, especially when you really shouldn’t be sent down. But guys have options, guys have out-rights, and all that stuff, and the organizations know about that. I think I’ve got a little over 10 years in the minor leagues and I’ve been through all three options and out-rights, I’ve been designated for assignment. I’ve been through everything.
DL: Is being sent back down to the minors any different now than it was when you were younger?
RM: Well, back in the day, when I started out, I didn’t have a wife, I didn’t have kids, I didn’t have a house and a mortgage, so it was a little bit easier to take than it is now. I have three kids, a house, and payments and bills, so I take being sent down a little more personal than I did back in the day.
DL: In a more general sense, how differently do you look at the game now than you did when you were younger?
RM: Back then it was just a matter of trying to do well each and every year. I didn’t think anything of it; I didn’t put hardly any mindset into it. I just tried to stay healthy and do well, but now I’m looking at everything, including all these young guys coming up, and kind of taking mental notes. I’m watching how they go about their business, how they act, and I’m trying to help these young kids out, in a sense. That’s a good feeling for me, because I’m a father of three and kind of have that fatherly-advice thing. The guys coming up are 22, 23, 24 years old and I get a kick out of helping them out as well.
DL: Do you look at yourself as a mentor when you’re back in Triple-A?
RM: I’m embarrassed. I’ll be honest with you. I’m 38 and when you’re in your 30s and down in the minor leagues — I’m embarrassed, because I shouldn’t be there. That’s my own personal feeling. Twenties, fine, but when you hit your 30s, I think it’s time to re-evaluate what’s going on.