Thursday, January 12, 2012

Danny Putnam Interview

Danny Putnam was selected by the Oakland A's in the 1st Round (36th overall) of the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft out of Stanford University where he was a 1st Team All-American.

On June 30, 2004 he signed A's organization and was sent to Vancouver in the Northwest League where he played only 11 games before he was promoted to Kane County.

In 2005, Putnam played for the Stockton Ports in the California League and had a .307 batting average with 15 home runs and 100 RBI's.

Between 2006 and 2007 Putnam would make stops in Stockton (A+), Midland (AA), and Sacramento (AAA).

On April 23, 2007 Putnam made his major league debut for the Oakland A's going 1-4 against the Baltimore Orioles.

A few weeks later Putnam would be returned to Sacramento.

Putnam spent 2008, and 2009 bouncing between AA and AAA with the A's and Padres organizations. After the 2009 season Putnam was released the Padres.

In 2010 he signed with the Bridgeport Bluefish.

Putnam has been fixture in the Bluefish outfield for the past two season hitting .271 career with 21 home runs and 90 RBI's in 213 games.

CM: Growing up outside of San Diego, were you a Padres fan? Who was your favorite player?

DP: Yes, I was a Padres fan growing up. Tony Gwynn was always fun to watch play. It is amazing what excitement a bouncing ground ball up the middle can be when it comes off the bat of a hall of famer. My favorite games were when my dad would get seats down the third base section, so I could get a good view of Tony's swing. I even told my dad one day (when I was 11), "Dad, he is 0-2 today because it looks like he is lunging more than normal. I hope he makes the adjustment." True to his typical performance, he made an adjustment to stay back and finish the day 2-4. I still think he heard me.

CM: You went to Stanford University which is one of the best universities in the country. What did you study?

DP: I majored in Sociology, which turned out to be a very useful major. Obviously, I am not a sociologist, but the skills I learned in those classes has been very helpful in understanding the business side of baseball. I have also been able to utilize many of the skills I developed in college in building my current business from scratch. Adam Greenberg of the Bluefish and I teamed up with some great people to start our business LuRong Living. One thing I know for sure, college can help you develop your mind and your work ethic, but you don't start living until you get into real life and start taking chances.

CM: You were drafted in the 1st Round (#36th overall) of the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft. Do you remember where you were when you found out? What was your reaction?

DP: I don't think I could forget that day. There was more pressure and buildup to that day than I ever allowed myself to admit. We had just been eliminated in the Regional tournament by Long Beach State (single handily by their star shortstop by the name of Troy Tulowitzki) so it started off as a downer weekend. I had some idea as to the range where I could be selected. My parents and a few teammates gathered around in my dorm at Stanford to listen to the draft. As you can imagine, it was very exciting to see me name and to know that I would be beginning my journey to the big leagues. I immediately called my girlfriend Becky (who is now my wife) and let her know that I would still be on the West Coast, which was icing on the cake.

CM: Since you were such a high draft pick, did you feel pressure to live up to expectations?

DP: There are certainly plenty of outside pressures that I experienced beginning my junior season at Stanford. However, I have always been motivated to driven to succeed outside of what other people have said. All throughout my career, I have heard plenty of doubters: even as early as little league. The negative voices only increased with more success. I heard things like, "You aren't that big, do you think you will be able to play in High School." "What do you mean you are trying out for Varsity as a freshman, nobody makes it." "At 5'10", you will be lucky to get a look from a college, so don't even think about a scholarship." "You may hit well with an aluminum bat, but at your build the wood bat will change everything. I don't see that power translating."

Over the years, I developed a thick skin when it came to negative pressure.

Getting Drafted in the 1st round was really one of the first times I experiences positive pressure where there were actually high expectations. At first, it was a strange new challenge, but I soon learned that I can deal with it the same way. Weather the pressure is positive or negative, I can always work hard, and stay focused on doing everything I can do to maximize what God gave me. The way I felt after looking at myself in the mirror after a game was always more important than what 'they' were saying.

CM: You played almost your entire minor league career with the Oakland A's organization. What was your favorite memory?

DP: There are so many experiences that I will never forget even in the small towns of minor league ball. However, the moment that stands out the most is making the turn at second base during my first big league home run. It did feel different than any other HR I hit in the minors. I went 3-4 that day in Kansas City but as the game sometimes goes, I was sent back to the minors the following day.

CM: Where were you when you found out you had been called up by the A's? What was your reaction?

DP: I was in AA, Midland Texas. I was playing really well, and after hitting a HR the manager called me to the end of the dugout and said he was taking me out of the game. I asked why and he said because I am getting called up. I thought to myself, "Sweet, AAA here I come." His next line was, "Pack your bags, because you have a flight out to Baltimore in the are going to the show!" Then my next comment was "what?!!?!!!"

I was shocked because nobody had gotten called up from AA with the A's in about a decade. As you can imagine it was pretty tough to sleep.

CM: On April 23, 2007 you made your Major League debut? What do you remember about that first game?

DP: The first thing that was different was the category of hotel we stayed at. There were so many emotions pumping through my veins that it took about 4 innings just to start feeling my body again. I had played a thousand games before, but it truly was a challenge to stay focused and calm. Fortunately, I got my first action in the second inning before my first at bat. I made a nice play down the right field line and stole a foul ball away from a fan for an out.

The other thing I remember is swinging way too hard, as I was amped up. For example, I got a little excited and swung at a pitch that might have hit me in the shoulder which resulted in hitting an upper deck shot- directly behind me. That's when I realized I had to take a deep breath.

Next, I got my first MLB hit. No single had ever felt so good.

CM: What was your experience like in the Major Leagues?

DP: Unfortunately, my call up only lasted a few weeks. It was an incredible time, and I got to experience every day of it with my wife.

In 2008 and 2009 you bounced around between Double-A and Triple-A, Did you think you were going to get another chance in the Majors?

I have always said, the day I stop playing baseball is the day I either don't see a real opportunity to make it back or if I ever feel like I don't have the passion to play at the level I know I am capable. In 2008 and 2009 I played with a passion to return to the bigs, because I had just been there and tasted it.

CM: In 2009 you got a chance to play in the Padres organization. What did that mean to you?

DP: I was so excited because that meant the possibility to get called up to play in front of Family and friends I had grown up with in SD. That didn't happen, but AAA Portland was still a great time.

CM: In 2010, you signed with the Bridgeport Bluefish. What were you first thoughts of the Atlantic League and the Bluefish?

DP: I think most guys come to the Atlantic League with an "under-appreciation" for the quality of players and competition in the league. It is not a coincidence that so many guys sign out of the AL only to immediately tear up AAA. Needless to say, I was greatly humbled.

CM: How is the competition in the Atlantic League compared to the MLB, AAA, and AA?

DP: There is a really interesting mix of talent, from younger players with great tools to older veterans with years of big league time. Veteran pitchers know how to use the AL strike zone effectively. From a hitter's perspective it can be difficult because you see so many arm angles in a series. For example, a couple teams last year could match up with both submarine lefties and righties.

CM: After spending two years with the Bluefish, how do you do you view the fans in the Atlantic League and Bridgeport?

DP: I think the fans see what the players experience. The AL is special because it is full of really good ball players without all the bravado and politics normally seen. It is pure baseball, competition not run by politics. There are a bunch of guys who have been around long enough to appreciate the game and treat it with respect. I believe the fans can see that, and it draws them to the ballpark. It is definitely the best value in town.

CM: What is LuRong Living?

DP: LuRong Living is the company I founded along with fellow Bluefish Adam Greenberg. LuRong Living Essential is a nutritional supplement that is a whole food and provides several vital nutrients that are otherwise missing from the modern diet. To make a really long story short, Adam and I both have a passion for sports, health, and helping people live better lives. We started our nutrition company on that foundation. What we initially envisioned to be specifically a nutritional supplement for athletes has now grown into a much bigger project. We also have medical doctors across the country who are recommending our product to patients for joint health, inflammation, injury recovery, and post operation recovery. Doctors are excited that they now have an effective alternative that can change the lives of their patients.

It has definitely been a challenge to balance playing baseball at a high level, building and running a business, and enjoying family life with our 13 month old daughter Ellie.

Many fans out there may not realize the number of players in baseball who have other business ventures outside the lines.

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

Historical- General Patton

Modern Political Figure- George W.

Athlete- Tim Tebow

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