Each month, MiracleBaseball.com will feature a question and answer interview with members of the Fort Myers Miracle. This month, MiracleBaseball.com talks with RHP Tim Shibuya. In his first season with the Miracle, Shibuya was a 23rd round pick by the Minnesota Twins in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
MiracleBaseball.com: First of all, congratulations on your first win of the season in game two of Wednesday's (April 9) doubleheader against Charlotte. The Stone Crabs put up a bit of a fight towards the end, notching five runs in the fifth. How did you feel coming in after that inning?
Tim: Well, Jason (Wheeler) was throwing so well, getting a lot of ground balls, and suddenly that fifth inning they started barreling some stuff up. As a bullpen guy it's your job to try and stop the bleeding, get your defense back in the dugout so they can start hitting again, and it was nice to be able to do that for the most part and finish the game for a "W."
MiracleBaseball.com: Let's take a time capsule back to your days at UC-San Diego. What is your most memorable baseball-related moment in college?
Tim: Probably just being able to go to the College World Series two years in a row. We went there in 2009 and 2010. Just being able to compete on that level and the memories you made, being with the teammates day in and day out.
MiracleBaseball.com: You have a pharmacological chemistry degree in your back pocket from UC-San Diego. If you weren't drafted, what might you have pursued with that degree?
Tim: I probably would have taken a year off to work, take a couple more classes in order to broaden my spectrum and be able to apply to different pharmacy schools or different organic chemistry graduate programs. I would have just tried to decide between whether I wanted to go into research, organic chemistry or if I wanted to pursue a doctorate in pharmacy.
MiracleBaseball.com: For some time when you joined the pros you wrote a blog. What was it called and why did you have it?
Tim: I didn't really have a name for it. The Sports Information Director at UC-San Diego had asked if I would chronicle my journey through my first year in the minors after I got drafted, and I said yeah, let me just see what's going on. I realized that there's a lot of down time and some ways to fill it were talking to teammates and being able to write about the interesting stories that you have while you're on the busses with these guys, while you're in the hotel rooms or while you're practicing every day. It was just a fun little thing to keep me occupied during some down time.
MiracleBaseball.com: Any particular story or stories that you remember writing about which stick in your head?
Tim: The bus ride up to Elizabethton was pretty interesting. We broke down for about three hours, three and a half hours, after leaving at midnight, and it ended up being a 19 and a half hour bus trip total. That one was pretty good. Another one is that I was having a craving for some shelled peanuts and I had to walk a couple miles from the hotel we were in, I believe we were in Princeton, and I walked a couple miles and the weather was great but then this storm came and just dumped on me. (Laughs) I was soaking and all my other clothes were dirty. So that's a good story.
MiracleBaseball.com: Since we're talking Elizabethton, you pitched seven innings of a no-hitter in 2011 with them. How was that mentally for you, especially when you yielded to Garrett Jewell and Steven Gruver?
Tim: During the game it was more just trying to keep the team in the game - it was a really close game the first few innings. I believe in the sixth or seventh we opened it up a little. But in the fourth or fifth there was two catcher's interference calls in a row so I had runners on first and second. At that point it was just "let's keep these runs from scoring, let's keep this game intact" rather than keeping the no-no intact. Then once I came out of the game, I was in the clubhouse doing my recovery work and they didn't have a radio or anything, so I was just with the strength coach and we didn't say anything about it. We were talking about anything but baseball. Then I heard the game was over and I was just waiting at the door to greet my teammates because I knew we had won. Everyone just came in, hugging and high-fiving and I realized we had kept it together.
MiracleBaseball.com: What do you have in your pitch arsenal?
Tim: I'm a fastball, cutter, changeup, and curveball guy. Nothing too crazy, I don't throw real hard, I just try to get ground balls and keep my team in the game by getting quick outs.
MiracleBaseball.com: You grew up for a good portion of your life in Wyoming but were born in Los Angeles, so are you more of a wilderness person or a beach-goer?
Tim: Definitely not a beach-goer. I was born in L.A., but moved to Wyoming when I was around 10 months old. So skiing, fishing, riding bikes, golfing, hiking, anything I could do to get outside, but not the beach.
MiracleBaseball.com: You prefer Wyoming weather over Florida weather, then?
Tim: Absolutely. As crazy as it sounds, I love the winter. Having snow to shovel and being able to ski on it, that's where I feel most at home.
MiracleBaseball.com: Which ballpark, home or away, has been your favorite to play in?
Tim: You know, it's really cliché but Fort Wayne, Indiana was really nice. They had really good crowds, really nice setup with how the hotel is in center field so you can walk to the park. The Cedar Rapids park, though, had a very homey feel to it. When I got up there towards the end of last year it was really nice to play in front of that kind of crowd, they knew baseball really well and there was always a buzz in the stands. It was just, you know they say the "Friendly Confines of Wrigley Park?" Cedar Rapids was a friendly confine for me, I really enjoyed playing there.
Tim Shibuya's Walkout Music: "What do you think about that?" by Montgomery Gentry.