- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Right-hander Joel Hanrahan was the second-round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2000 draft, and he now is one of 12 players vying for four open spots in the Nationals’ starting rotation.

The 25-year-old spent the past six years in the Dodgers’ minor-league system, where he finished 62-45 with a 4.23 ERA in 174 minor league games. He went 11-5 with a 3.58 ERA in 26 starts for Class AAA Las Vegas and Class AA Jacksonville last season.

Hanrahan talked with Ken Wright last week.

Q: This is your first stint with the organization. Can you give me your impressions?

A: I like it so far. There’s a lot of guys. It takes awhile to get used to all the new faces, new coaches and everything. They run a sharp, crisp camp. They don’t keep you out there all day just standing around. It seems like we’re getting a lot of good work in and getting us out of here on time and everything seems to be going pretty good so far.

Q: This is the Dodgers’ last spring training in Vero Beach before moving to Arizona next year. What was playing in Dodgertown like?

A: It was fun. Obviously, it’s a fan-friendly place. I’ve been there for six years and played a season there. So, I knew quite a few of the fans, and I got to know a lot of them pretty well. You know, everything over there was pretty good. I can’t complain about

anything there.

Q: Did you ever see some of the Dodgers’ greats, like Sandy Koufax or Tommy Lasorda, walking around?

A: Tommy was around all the time. He would come out in the back fields in minor league camp. He ate dinner in the dinner hall with us. Don’t do anything wrong in front of him, and you’ll be all right.

He’s got some good jokes for you.

Q: What was the funniest thing he broke out on you guys? Did he ever say anything really good?

A: He’s pretty predictable after a few years. I guess one of the funny things he always did was back in the back fields, late in spring training and everybody is kind of tired and it’s hot and [nobody is] saying a whole lot. He would come in and say, “What is this? I’ve seen more life in a mortician’s convention.”

It’s Tommy. After a couple of years, you know when to laugh and when not to. He’s a great guy. He remembers everybody’s name, too. It’s amazing.

Q: You grew up in both Iowa and in Gainesville, Fla. Did the Gators send you letter seeing if you wanted to play baseball for them?

A: No. I was a late bloomer. I didn’t really get recruited by any Florida schools. Basically, it was all the schools around Iowa, and that was pretty much it.

Q: Did you sign straight out of high school?

A: Yes. I signed out of high school in 2000.

Q: When you’re a high school kid and sign a pro contract, what’s the thinking there?

A: The thinking is that you’ve got a chance to live out a dream. Every kid pretty much dreams of playing pro ball, and that reality came true. It’s just one more step to go.

Q: Do you regret not going to a four-year university and going through the college life?

A: No, definitely not. I wouldn’t have been in a frat house, that’s for sure. I’ve got friends that went to college, and my brother went there. So, I lived it a little bit through them. I wouldn’t second-guess, anytime.

Q: There’s always this debate about whether college players are more refined than the high school draft picks. Is that a valid argument?

A: You can look at it both ways. I don’t know how old Ryan Zimmerman is, I guess he was 21 or 22 last year. When I was 21 or 22, I had a couple years in the Dodgers system. I was close to getting there at the same age.

I look at it as the first couple years are kind of the same thing. Instead of going to class and doing all the stuff with class, you have baseball. You just have baseball on your mind. The first three years are kind of like being in college, I guess. I wouldn’t change anything.

Q: What was the hardest part about playing in the minors?

A: The travel. The travel gets to you a little bit. Living paycheck to paycheck most of the time. The hardest part for me usually has been just getting to the city and getting set up and dealing with all that. Getting an apartment, getting your car there, just kind of

stuff like that. My first couple of years was what to do with my bills. That’s been the hardest part. Once you get all that stuff and all that taken care of and you can just worry about the baseball, makes it a little bit easier on you.

Q: Are the bus rides brutal?

A: Some of them were. I spent a couple years in Jacksonville and we were the most southern team in the league. We had a couple of those 10-, 12-hour trips, leaving after the game and getting in at 3 o’clock. Those may get a little rough, but as long as you don’t have to pitch that day, you’re happy.

Q: Who is the most difficult batter you’ve ever faced?

A: I would probably say Miguel Cabrera after 2002. It seemed like when I played against him in the Florida State League it wasn’t that bad. After that year, he just took off and is impossible almost. I had a pretty tough time with him after that.

Q: What makes Cabrera so tough?

A: His plate coverage. He’s pretty disciplined. You think you can get him inside, he turns on it. You paint one on the outside, and he takes it off the right-field wall. Him and [Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder] Delmon Young are two of them right there that kind of remind me of the same hitter. They’re tough outs.

Q: Is Cabrera the most complete package in baseball?

A: I can’t see anything wrong with him. He’s big, athletic, moves pretty well. He swings a big bat and plays defense. I can’t see anything wrong with him.

Q: Were you surprised he moved to third base from the outfield?

A: I saw him coming up, and he was playing third. He seemed like a good third baseman to me. When they moved him out to left field, it was obviously to get his bat in the lineup because they had Mike Lowell there, but he’s a real good third baseman if you ask me. He started out as a shortstop and that was like when he was 16 or something, and then he put on a little bit more muscle and weight and moved to third.

Q: Have you’ve been following this Derek Jeter/A-Rod stuff?

A: Yeah, a little bit. You see it on ESPN and everything, but I think it’s ridiculous. They are two guys on a team. Just let ‘em go out and play. It’s not a big deal.

Q: Do you think the media is blowing it out of proportion?

A: They are two Hall of Famers. I’m sure they were friends 13 years ago they were best friends. How old were they? 20. Everybody has got friends like that. After a couple years, people change and time goes by. I think it’s ridiculous that they make such a big deal about it.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide