This is the first in our ongoing offseason series of Q%A sessions with former Chiefs.
Brad Meyers, a right-handed pitcher from last season’s team, was recently selected by the Yankees in Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 draft. Because Meyers was taken in the major-league phase (as opposed to the minor-league phase) of the draft, he will only remain with the Yankees if he makes the big-league club out of spring training and remains there during the entirety of the 2012 season. For a case study involving another ex-Chief, see Michael Martinez and the Phillies from last year.
I caught up with Brad recently via phone from his offseason home in California.
Jason: How did you find out you got picked?
Brad: I got woken up through a phone call from my agent at like 7 in the morning (pacific time), telling me I’m a Yankee. I knew the draft was that day, I just didn’t know what time it was. So, I just left my phone on and just got woken up to that. It’s pretty cool. I was excited. I didn’t need any coffee that morning.
J: The next 15 minutes involved you going back to sleep or running around the house. Which one was it?
B: My brother was getting up to go to work and I was up and at him. I’m not usually up that early, so it was pretty funny.
J: Who’d you tell next?
B: I texted my parents first. I kinda got blown up all day and spent a whole day responding back to people on Facebook and Twitter and text messages. It was kinda funny. It was a fun day. Exciting.
J: Did you have any idea you were going to get picked?
B: I had a little bit of an idea. My agent told me a few teams were interested. I wasn’t sure. I was hoping that I would. That was a big relief this year.
J: Hoping that you would because of the opportunity it presented to be in the big leagues?
J: Is there any pressure that coming along with [being selected]?
B: Actually, no. It would sound like it would be, but from going from not being put on the 40-man to having a shot at the Yankees’ big league team is a pretty big compliment to me, I think. I thought it was great.
J: You’re a West coast guy. Do the Yankees still mean something to you?
B: Yeah. I was never a Yankee fan growing up, but it’s kinda hard not to now.
J: Do you know anybody with the Yankees?
B: Colin Curtis I played some summer ball with and [Double-A pitcher) Cory Arbiso is a friend.
J: Who contacted you first from the Yankees?
B: It was [scouting director] Billy Eppler. He contacted me that day to say congrats and why they picked me.
J: Why is that?
B: They liked that I throw strikes, not lot of relief pitchers on the market, you’re not going to overpower people.
J: What do you do in the offseason?
B: I was in therapy all year last year [due to injury]. I usually give myself a month or two, travel a little bit, then I lift and then start throwing usually in December.
J: Did you go anywhere this year?
B: Vegas and Tennessee.
J: Do you own any Yankees stuff or is that bad karma?
B: I do not own any Yankees stuff.
J: You just don’t want to get your hopes up? Or you haven’t made it out shopping yet?
B: It’s just that I don’t know whether to think of it as a temporary thing or a permanent thing, ya know? Obviously, guys get sent back but I’m really not looking at it that way. I’m looking at it as an opportunity.
J: Isn’t it weird to be on a team but not really be on a team?
B: It is weird. It’s pretty difficult to explain to people. Nobody knows how it works and it’s kinda hard to explain it. I basically tell people it’s a tryout for the big team. That’s it.
If you have any former Chiefs you’d like to see us chat with, let us know at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re all out of catchy titles, so this new feature to the blog will be called Questions and Answers. It’s really pretty self-explanatory.
Jason Benetti (Q): When did you know that life was about to change for you?
Drew Storen (A): Probably the second after Bud Selig said my name. It’s never really something I thought about Since then, having all the people call me and all the people who texted me right after I got picked, I kinda realized, “OK, things might be a little different now.” It changes me as a baseball player, but the big thing for me is to not change as a person.
Q: So it wasn’t before that?
A: It got a little crazy I guess at Stanford when we went to the College World Series. It was a pretty cool experience and I guess my career got put into the spotlight there in my little town. I was not a big child prodigy, I was never a Tiger Woods-type guy.
Q: Have you done much self-reflection over the last six months to a year about how to handle something like this or are you sorta taking it in stride?
A: I’ve kinda always known how to handle it, fortunately. My dad and mom have been very good to me growing up. I was around it, so I’ve seen it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have that kind of support system where I feel like I knew what I was getting into. I feel like I’ve handled it pretty well and it is tough to have it all soak in. Even the experience the last couple of days has been kinda crazy. The Clippers and the Toledo Mud Hens. Those are teams I used to watch the Indianapolis Indians play. That’s a little bit different for me. When I was 10, our hats for our All-Star Team were the Syracuse SkyChiefs. It worked out because we were Skiles Test, so my dad got us Syracuse SkyChiefs hats.
Q: What do you throw?
A: I go four-seam, two-seam fastball. My two-seam I make like a sinker so when I come into situations where I really need a groundball, I can use that. Curveball, slider-cutter, pretty much a slider. I have a changeup I don’t really through too much but I’ll tend to work in once in a while.
Q: What was the experience like at the College World Series (with Stanford)?
A: It’s nuts. It’s different. It’s essentially a Saturday football game for baseball. It’s a cool experience because you’re in Omaha in a great city and with the way it’s set up at Rosenblatt for now is you have the stadium, houses and there’s a state fair atmosphere for baseball. It’s a whole town fired up about college baseball. For us, it was a pretty unbelievable experience all around.
Q: What was it like playing for Mark Marquess at Stanford?
A: It was a blast. I loved it. He’s a legend. He runs a tight ship and he knows what he’s doing, what he needs to win and to get the most out of what he brings in there. I wouldn’t pass it up for anything. It was great. I miss being around Stanford but at the same time this is a great opportunity. I look back with fond memories and still keep in touch with him and I’m really happy to see that they’re doing well this year.
Q: You cracked half a smile when we were talking about Stanford. Do you think about Stanford often?
A: I’m excited at some point to go back and finish. It’s not just the baseball. It’s the whole thing. It’s the people, the learning. It’s just a unique experience all around. A lot of people don’t know there are only 6,000 or so undergads there. It’s a campus full of extraordinary individuals who are excelling at the top of what they’re doing. Whether it’s in writing, science or their respective sport. You have so many Olympians there too. You meet a lot of cool people. I lived in the same building as Michelle Wie, so I got to know her a little bit. It’s one of those experiences I never really expected to have.
Q: You used the word “extraordinary.” When did you realize that you fit in there?
A: <laughing> I guess I feel like I’m kinda tagging along. I feel fortunate. I wouldn’t say I’m extraordinary, but I feel fortunate with where I’m at.
Q: People have written about the fact that you draw and that you’re an avid designer. Do you still do that during baseball season?
A: it’s tough. There’s not a whole lot of time. A lot of the free time is spent sleeping. Whenever I do have the free time, I like to do it. That’s one of the things I’m really excited about going back to school for is ’cause it is something I’m really passionate about and would love to do something where I can combine baseball and design–maybe work for Nike and design cleats or something.
Q: What have you designed?
A: One of the last classes I took was a drawing class where we got to design stuff and I actually designed a pair of cleats. That was probably my best work.
Q: What was special about those cleats?
A: They looked cool. They’re kinda like the Kobe Bryant basketball shoes from a couple years ago. They’re different. They’re kinda clean. When I played in the field, I was pretty slow, so I was trying to make sure if I was designing a cleat as a fielder, I’d want something that makes me look fast regardless. I used to rock the Pumas when I played in high school just ’cause I thought they made me look fast. It’s maybe something I do when I design cleats.
Q: You used to umpire?
A: It was my sophomore or junior summers I did that. It was Babe Ruth. A pretty recreational league. I have some pretty solid stories about guys going full wind-up with guys on base, trying to pick somebody off, I call a balk, coaches would come out and argue with me….it was an interesting experience. It makes you appreciate the umpires behind the plate a little bit.
Q: What did you do this offseason?
A: I finished up the fall league right before Thanksgiving, went home, spent Thanksgiving and Christman with the family and kinda relaxed. After that, I went down to Sabblebrook Resort in Tampa after New Year’s and worked out with other guys from our agency. I got to work out with Ryan Zimmerman, Maxwell, Clippard. Ryan Howard and Jeter were down there. It was a bunch of guys who were big time guys. It was a great experience to be around those guys and see how hard those guys work. They’re that good and you see the reason why.
Q: You’re a Stanford guy, people assume that you’re kind of a dork and read a lot. Do you?
A: It’s something I’m starting to get into a little bit more. I just finished the bullpen gospels. That was a great book. A buddy of mine just gave me a list of books that I’m gonna try to order some when I get back. I listen to audio books when I drive when I make the standard long trips. With the long bus rides and a lot of down time, instead of fooling around and playing games on my iPhone, I’ve started to read a little bit more.
Q: Your parents were in town. What was that like?
A: It’s cool to have them see where I’m at. My dad’s only seen a handful of games in person and it was the first game my mom had seen in person. They listen to all of the games on the radio and they follow it. It’s great. It’s cool to be around Indianapolis. I have a few of my friends coming over tonight from Indianapolis to see me play. I haven’t been able to experience this being on the far east coast and on the far west in college. There’s not a lot of times when people from your hometown get to see you play so it’s pretty special.
Q: If I were in Brownsburg, Indiana for 24 hours, what would I do?
A: You could go to Wal-Mart. There’s Pizza King. It’s a pizza place where they have a train that delivers your drink on a train.
Q: Honestly? That actually happened?
A: Yeah, that was our junior high hang out. There’s a movie theater in Brownsburg now, so that’s bigtime. If you’re there in August, you can see the NHRA Drag Race. If you google Brownsburg, Indiana, that’s one of the coined terms, “The Drag Racing Capital of the World”, I guess…..oh, and sit in traffic. Maybe in the winter, high school basketball’s good to go to.
Q: Did you play?
A: I did.
Q: Were you good?
A: I act like I was. I was a good shooter. I hung. I was actually high school teammates with Gordon Hayward from Butler. I got to play against guys like Eric Gordon. Playing Indiana high school basketball was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
Q: Gordon (Hayward) is a pretty tough rebounder now.
A: He was about as tall as me when I was playing with him. Once I was done, he decided to grow a foot and move on to bigger and better things. I grew up with him, we lived in the same neighborhood when I moved to Brownsburg. I was so fired up watching him play in the tournament.