Thursday was one of the biggest days of the year for a handful of Minor Leaguers who, eligible for their respective clubs’ 40-man rosters for the first time, found out if they’d made the cut. Among the ones celebrating wildly that night was Colorado Rockies right-hander Shane Lindsay. Except that he probably wasn’t celebrating THAT wildly because despite his reputation as one of the wildest and craziest guys in the Arizona Fall League this year, the 23-year-old Aussie does not drink.
He can pitch, though. Back in 2005 he had his breakthrough campaign at short-season Tri-Cities in the Northwest League, going 6-1 with a 1.89 ERA and striking out 107 batters in 66 2/3 innings while limiting hitters to a .162 average to earn Short-Season Pitcher of the Year honors in the Minors.
The next summer he was having similar success between Tri-Cities and Class A Asheville before shoulder surgery sidelined him for all of 2007.
This year was supposed to be his comeback year and he had a more-than-respectable 3.99 ERA at Advanced A Modesto in late May before a broken hand sidelined him until August. He came to Arizona to make up for lost time and was one of the key hurlers on the Desert Dogs team that will try for its fifth consecutive AFL title on Saturday.
On Tuesday, prior to his last start for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, I sat down with Lindsay to conduct this now-legendary Beyond the Boxscore interview. Okay, so it’s not legendary. Yet. I’m working on it.
We knew we only had five minutes before it was time for him to start loosening up but that seemed like plenty of time.
My one regret here is that I don’t have audio on this. That Aussie accent of his is killer.
GotMiLB: Everyone has a “hidden talent.” What’s yours?
Prior to the interview, two of Lindsay’s Phoenix Desert Dogs teammates, Rockies infielder Chris Nelson and Twins infielder Steven Tolleson, were teaching Rockies catcher Mike McKenry how to make the “crickets” sound with his tongue. This sound effect would have been handy right here for approximately 20 seconds as he sits there, pondering the question but unable to come up with anything.
Lindsay: I don’t know. I don’t have one. Nothing extraordinary, anyway.
GotMiLB: Complete this sentence: It would surprise people to know that I …
Insert 27 more seconds of crickets chirping here.
Lindsay: I’m pretty much out there. No surprises.
The day after the interview, we revisited Lindsay in the stands where he was charting the game and giving out Tootsie Pops. No longer on the spot, his answer was “That I don’t drink.”
GotMiLB: Do you have other hobbies or creative outlets aside from baseball?
At this point, 1:22 of our allotted five minutes have elapsed and I am starting to wonder if I am going to have five minutes of dead air. Seeing as how Lindsay has a reputation for being one of the funniest guys in the league, I am wondering if it’s just me. But I have another 3:38 so I forge ahead.
GotMiLB: Of what accomplishment, on or off the field, in your life are you the proudest?
Lindsay: I ran my own business back home, a trucking business and I was pretty proud of that. I started it when I was 19 and it was pretty successful until I put a driver on and he rolled (wrecked) my truck and ruined my company. No legal proceedings because it was a friend of the scout who signed me so it was a bit of a sticky situation.
GotMiLB: What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Lindsay: I’ve done a lot of cool stuff, I’ve been pretty fortunate. I went to Europe to play baseball with the Australian team which was pretty fantastic.
GotMiLB: What do you think you’d be doing now if you weren’t playing baseball?
Lindsay: Either running my own business or if I had taken a completely different route probably playing Australian Rules football.
GotMiLB: What one item have you found you cannot live without on the road?
Lindsay: My computer.
GotMiLB: Which aspect of life in the minors do you find to be the biggest challenge and why?
Lindsay: At the beginning it was probably the massive bus trips in the Pioneer League, they were brutal. But I conquered that with camping mattresses on the floor and have pretty much stuck with that.
GotMiLB: Which aspect of life in the minors has surprised you the most, in comparison to what you might have imagined before you turned pro?
Lindsay: I figured it would be a little more glamorous, I suppose.
GotMiLB: What is the biggest misperception that people outside of baseball have about life in the minors?
Lindsay: The glamour. It’s a pretty rough life.
GotMiLB: Who is the most unusual character you’ve met in your pro baseball career?
Lindsay: My team here (Phoenix), definitely, a bunch of clowns but a lot of fun. Kyle Ginley would be the most entertaining, he’s definitely the funniest man alive.
GotMiLB: Which coach/manager have you had that you think should be in the big leagues?
Lindsay: P.J. Carey. He’s a legend.
GotMiLB: What is the one question you hope you never hear again?
Lindsay: How did you break your hand? (And GotMiLB did not ask).
GotMiLB: If you were commissioner for a day, which one rule would you change?
Lindsay: Pay levels. Everyone should be paid a lot more.
GotMiLB: Where have you played in the Minors?
Lindsay: Casper, Wy., Tri-Cities, Wash., Asheville, N.C. and Modesto, Calif.
GotMiLB: On your current or most recent club, what was your favorite thing about playing there? And is there anything you would change?
Lindsay: (Preferred to talk about Asheville, which technically was his recent club since he rehabbed his broken hand there the final month of the 2008 season). Asheville was really nice. It was hot though. The whole Sally League is hot.
GotMiLB: What was your favorite restaurant there?
Lindsay: The Mellow Mushroom.
GotMiLB: If family or friends were coming in to visit, where would you take them on a day off?
Lindsay: To the Biltmore Mansion.
GotMiLB: In your career, what has been your favorite road trip?
Lindsay: Charleston, S.C. was legit.
GotMiLB: What’s your favorite road restaurant?
Lindsay: I like to eat. But Hooters is always good, pretty reliable.
GotMiLB: What has been your least favorite visiting act or promotion?
Lindsay: This cop, I don’t know what he’s meant to be but he’s this old TV show cop and it was terrible. (Translation for the Americans: “The Mayberry Deputy,” a traveling act spun off of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry RFD” that is, not surprisingly, pretty much only big in the area around North Carolina).
And 6:54 later we had finished and he trotted down to the bullpen to loosen up for his game.