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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

CHATTING IT UP WITH JUAN PADILLA

Look, I'm a Yankees nut and I remember random players all the time.  One of the guys that I really loved in pinstripes was relief pitcher Juan Padilla.  The problem was he only played 6 games in the Bigs for the Yankees and after than he moved on to the Reds and then the Mets.  I was bummed when Padilla left the Bronx, but recently, I found him again.  So, I wanted to ask him some questions I've been thinking about over the past few years when it comes to Juan Padilla.  Sure, call me a nerd all you want, but it's because I'm a nerd that you read Bleeding Yankee Blue.

So yeah, here's my interview with Juan Padilla, never a Yankee Hall of Famer, but for those 6 games, he's was my Hall of Famer at least.  I loved the heart of this kid...so here's our interview with Juan Padilla: 

BYB: You debuted with the Yankees in 2004 and I remember the excitement surrounding you. You only appeared in 6 games with the Yankees that year. What happened and how did you finish that season?

Juan Padilla: I had an unbelievable time while I was with the Yankees. It was my first experience in the Major leagues and will never forget it. I didn't understand what happened with me that year. The Yankees called me up, I had good appearances and then got put on waivers and ended up the season with the Cincinnati Reds where I didn't have a good season.
BYB: Describe the Yankee clubhouse back then. Who were the guys you stuck with? What was Derek Jeter like you being the new guy?


Juan Padilla: The clubhouse was something else, just thinking about all the great players that walk through that clubhouse game me the chills.  It was old, but with a lot of history. It felt like walking through a museum and Disneyland. Disneyland because I was surrounded by great players I watched every night on TV and now I was right there being part of the team. Derek Jeter was absolutely awesome with me. He treated me very nice and put me under his wing together with Bernie Williams.


BYB: Many say that Mariano Rivera is the nicest guy in baseball, just how nice was he and what was your experience like with him in the pen?

Juan Padilla: Mariano is a very nice guy. He helped me lots with my pitches and calming me down when I needed it the first few outings. What can I say, the best closer in baseball.

BYB: 2005 with the Mets was clearly your best season, 3-1 with a 1.49 ERA in 24 games. What happened after that season? Where did you go?

Juan Padilla: After that season during spring training 2006, I tore my ligament in my elbow and had the famous Tommy John surgery. I spent all year rehabbing. Then the same thing happened during spring training 2007, I tore my tendon.  This time in my elbow. So again, I had Tommy John and spent the next season and half in the DL rehabbing. Ever since then I have been trying to make it back to organize baseball.  I lost my speed, but now I consider myself a better pitcher than before.  I've pitched the last three winter seasons in Puerto Rico and I have been pitcher of the year including best pitcher of the Caribbean Series in 2011.
BYB: What are you doing these days?

Juan Padilla: I have been playing everywhere. I tried Independent leagues (Can-Am & Atlantic), I played in Mexico, and playing in a Semi-Amateur League in Puerto Rico. Also, I'm part of the Puerto Rico National Team.

BYB: Growing up, who was your favorite player and why?

Juan Padilla: Roberto Clemente had already died, but my father was a fan of him, so even though I never saw him play, I grew up admiring him for obvious reasons; A great player, plus one of the most notable Hispanic (Puerto Rican) in the era.

BYB: How can some of us autograph seekers get an autograph? Where could we send our baseball cards to get signed by you?

Juan Padilla: You could send them to my Non-Profit organization office, PRO-Dream Agency, Inc and I will get it signed and return. I will facilitate my address if needed.

BYB: Do you read Bleeding Yankee Blue? If so, what do you think?

Juan Padilla: Sorry, but didn't know much about BYB until I got in touch with you. For the little I have read, it seems like a full database of Yankee history, very good!

Juan, thank you for taking the time and I hope all of you enjoyed this. I really did!

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