Monday, December 19, 2011

Shane Youman Interview

Shane Youman a native of New Iberia, Lousianna attended Louisanna State University (L.S.U.) where he had a successful collegiate career.Link
After his junior season he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 43rd Round (1280th Overall) in the 2001 MLB Amauter Draft.

Youman worked his way up through the Pirates organization with his best season being 2006 when he was 7-2 with a 1.51 ERA (he also had a save that season) with Altoona before getting from promoted to Triple-A, Indianapolis. His stay in Indianapolis would last only eight games before he was called up to the majors.

On September 10, 2006 Youman made is major league debut against the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched a solid 5.1 innings, and allowed 3 runs, on 5 hits but took the loss.

In 2007, Youman would split time between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.

From 2008-2010, Youman would play for four different Atlantic League teams including Lancaster, Bridgeport, York and Newark (he also had a brief stint in the Phillies organization with Reading in 2008).

On June 4, 2011 Youman signed with the Long Island Ducks. Youman would go an incredible 7-1 with a 0.66 ERA in only 13 games. Youman's performance helped propel the Ducks to the 1st Half Championship. However, his stay would be short lived. On August 10, 2001 he had his contract purchased by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chineese Professional Baseball League.



Currently, Youman has a 4-1 record with a 0.77 ERA, and 25 strikeouts in 35 innings pitching for the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican winter league. Opponents are hitting just .207 against him.

CM: You went to college at L.S.U., which has one of the best baseball programs in the country. What was it like to play there?

SY: Playing ball at L.S.U. was something that I'd always wanted to do growing up. I always stayed focused on getting that opportunity. When it happened it somewhat caught me by surprise, because they coaches there initially advised me to attend a Junior College first. But, when they came to see me pitch during summer ball, they decided to bring me in right away. As for playing there, it was crazy. 7,000+ fans at pretty much every game, playing for one of the greatest coaches in college baseball history (Skip Bertman), and knowing that we'd be in contention for a title every year was all a young ball player could ask for. Playing ball there helped mature me as a person. It went from having to do certain duties as a freshman, learning certain fundamentals of the game, as well as building good team chemistry. All those things helped us become a winning ball club year after year. Our coach, Skip Bertman always found a way to get the best out of us too. Being that he was such a great motivator that too made us work hard, and play even harder.

CM: Are you a big L.S.U. football fan?

SY: As far as being a big L.S.U. football fan. Yeah, I am. I have no choice but to be. As a freshman saving seats at football games for the older guys was 1 of our duties. With that being said, I became a fanatic once I stepped foot on campus, and saw how the fans tailgate, and supported the team. That's a sight to see. Then what really sold me was when during my freshman yr. we beat Florida at home when they were #1, and it happened to be my birthday also. That game we didn't sit except for timeouts, and the crowd noise measured on the Richter scale.

CM: If you could play catch with one person dead or alive who would it be?

SY: I know I've given some long answers, but to wrap this up, if I could play catch with 1 person dead, or alive, it would have to be Satchel Paige. The reason I say that is for 1, he was a pitcher (1 of the best), and second I read a book about his life, which was fascinating in itself. The things they said he could do with a baseball ball were unbelievable. I would just like to witness it firsthand.

CM: Favorite Athlete, Baseball player?

SY: Now, my favorite athlete was, or is would be MJ (Michael Jordan). Man the things he did on the court, and he was very competitive. Not only that, his commercials were on every channel. As far as baseball goes, my favorite is a toss up between Doc Gooden, and Griffey Jr. Doc, because he was such a good pitcher, who threw hard, and had nasty secondary pitches, and Griffey, because the game looked so easy to him, and he played such a smooth game.

CM: Do you remember where you were when you were drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates? What was your reaction?

SY: When it comes to the draft, I remember pretty much everything. Now keep in mind that I had another year of eligibility left to play at L.S.U. The day I got the call about being drafted by the Pirates, I was at my apartment asleep. It was the 2nd day of the draft, and I was picked in the 43rd Round. When I got the news, I just laughed, cause no way I was gonna signed that late with one more year of college ball left. During that summer though, I went off to play in a college summer league. The scout that drafted me kept tabs on me, and came to see me pitch a couple times. Well at the end of that summer, the Pirates made another offer to me. It was a whole lot of money by any means, but it was way more than I expected being drafted in that round, so I took it, and the rest is history.

CM: In 2004, you were teammates in Lynchburg with Ray Navarrete. What are your memories of playing with Ray there?

SY: Playing pro ball is very interesting, especially going through the minor leagues. You meet all types of people. Now as far as Ray Navarrete goes he was pretty much the same person that he is now. Played different positions, and always hit. Back then though, maybe he was a little more militant. If he felt someone wasn't treating him unfairly, he'd let them know right away. Nowadays, he's a lot more easygoing, and relaxed. Also back then was when he first started with Digmi, and has been grinding with that since.

CM: In 2006, you were called up by the Pirates? Where were you when you found out you were going to "the show?"

SY: The MLB. Playing in the majors is every ballplayer's dream. For me to get that opportunity was a blessing, because I had been grinding from level to level in the minors. Then in Sept. of 2006, I got that call. I cannot describe that feeling at all. All I can say is it took my breath away.

CM: What was it like to pitch in the majors?

SY: As for playing at that level, you get the best of the best, from the way you travel, the hotels, the cities, clubhouses, uniforms, balls, stadiums, so on and so forth. The flights, and the food before, and after games were the parts...ha-ha! The pitching aspect of it was very mental. You're face the best of the best, so as a pitcher you have to make sure you prepare the right way, and pay attention to the scouting reports, and the tendencies of the hitters. Have to be able to make adjustments right away, cause if not, you'll find yourself out of the game with no recollection as to what happens. I say that because the game up there is so fast. However, it's a feeling that I hope to have again. So, when I got called up again in 2007, it felt normal, cause I had been there before, and was able to easily make that transition. I wasn't in awe anymore.

CM: You've been a member of five different Atlantic League organizations. What do you think of the fans and organizations in the Atlantic League?

SY: Yes, I have played for 5 different Atlantic League teams. Not by choice though. Ha-ha! You think that's some type of record? As far as the fans go, I was a bit surprised. Being that it's independent ball, I was expecting as much fan support anywhere across the league. Being that the fans were so supportive of their respective teams, it made it real fun to play ball every night. Now as far as the league itself goes, I feel it's a great league to be in if Indy ball is a route a player has to take in order to get his career back on track. With that being said though, organizations have to be cool with the fact that players are there to revamp their careers whether it be with an MLB team, Mexico, or even going to Asia. Yeah, in the meantime everybody wants to win, but if a guy has a chance for an upgrade everyone has to respect that, and be understanding. I strongly believe that's what Indy is for, but I don't feel everyone feels that way.

CM: How did you become a Duck? Did you talk to Ray (Navarrete) or any former teammates about the Ducks before you made your decision?

SY: On the other hand, when it comes to me becoming a Long Island Duck, it was a strange process. I had been home working out with hopes of throwing for a few MLB teams, or even going to Mexico. I did get to throw for a couple teams, but nothing came from it, and I did sign with a Mexican team, only for them to not keep their word, and bring me in. From there I contacted Indy teams in different leagues, even the Atlantic League, and every team claimed they were full. Then, one day as I continued to look at transactions in the different leagues, I saw that a pitcher with the Ducks was picked up. I instantly contacted some of the players I knew with the team, names I won't give, but never heard back from them. The one guy I finally was able to get a response from was K.J. (Kennard Jones). I knew K..J from our days in York. He got right on the job for me. I was soon contacted by Mike Pfaff. I initially agreed to join the team, but later changed my mind, for numerous reasons. After taking some time to think, I called K.J. back, and asked him to talk with Mike about bringing me in. From there, I spoke with Mike, we set everything up, and I became a Duck.

CM: After a few tough seasons you had a tremendous year in 2011. What do you think contributed to your success in 2011?

SY: As far as the success I've been able to have in 2011, I have to say that I've been blessed. Because yeah, prior to, I've had some tough luck. It probably dates back to 2008 while with Philly, I was sent to Double A after spending a little over half the season in the majors in 2007. That took a toll on me mentally, and it showed both on, and off the field. That, lead to Philly releasing me. At the time I did not know what was going on with me, but later found out I was going through some depression. It took me well over a yr. to finally come to grips with it while still playing ball when I should have gotten help right away. Pride stood in the way of that. However, in 2010 while pitching for York, I finally started seeing a psychologist to help me throw it. From there, I started reaping the benefits of professional help when I was traded to Newark during that season. From that point on my life changed. I'm more mature now, and I've learned to have fun with the game, and not put too much pressure on myself. Also, off the field I'm doing things to help others (mainly kids). I can go on about my situation, but I won't. All I can say is now when I look back, going through those rough times has made me much stronger, and that's a reason why I've been able to bounce back, and have great success on the field again.

CM: You were signed by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League towards the end of last season. What was it like to play in Taiwan?

SY: Being able to bounce back like that, led to me getting an opportunity to play ball on the International stage in Taiwan. Asian style baseball is very different. It took me a little time to grasp it. For the most part the game is still baseball though. The thing is, you hardly see players get mad, which is something that was of shock to me, because we all know how some players can get if they don't have success. Instead teammates were more encouraging to each other no matter what the outcome was. Ball there is very competitive also. From top to bottom the hitters there are very discipline, and selective with what pitches they swing at. This made me concentrate more on attacking the zone. To go along with having to concentrate every pitch. During the entire game you have to deal with drums beating, horns blowing, and chants being yelled for 9 innings. It's something that's part of the game there. I was warned about it, but was in awe when I got to witness it. It's loud too, but after a while you get use to it. The only way you didn't hear all the racket is if a game went past 10pm, because of a noise ordinance. Games rarely went past 10 though. Overall, I enjoyed my time there with ball, as well as seeing the sights. Fans there were great also. They recognized us out in public, and were real appreciative towards the players working hard. It was real easy for them to notice me for obvious reasons. Ha-ha! The food though not so much ha-ha! I won't go into detail about that,but McDonald's became my new best friend. Hopefully the fact that I enjoyed success in Taiwan, I get another shot with an MLB team, or perhaps springboard into Korea, or Japan.

(picture on card via http://www.liducks.com)

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