Skilled left-handed pitchers have some of the best job security in baseball, as the demand for southpaws always outweighs the supply. As long as they keep getting outs, lefties can build long careers that can span many teams and a variety of roles. A perfect example is Scott Eyre, who rode the stereotypical existence of a lefty to a productive 13 year major league career.
Eyre played collegiately for the College of Southern Idaho before being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 9th round of the 1991 MLB Draft. He came up through the minors as an effective starter, but never pitched for the Rangers. Prior to the start of the 1994 season he was traded to the Chicago White Sox and continued to impress before finally making his major league debut in 1997. He was never able to fully establish himself in the starting rotation and by the second half of 1998 he was pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, where he spent the remainder of his career.
In addition to the White Sox, Eyre also pitched for the Blue Jays, Giants (where he had his greatest success), Cubs, and Phillies. In his 13 year career he pitched in the playoffs five times, including three World Series- with the Giants in 2002, and the Phillies in 2008-2009. He appeared in a total of 617 regular season games, going 28-30 with a 4.23 ERA and 4 saves. More information on his career statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/eyresc01.shtml.
Last month, with a little help from my Twitter friend and fellow southpaw Scott Sauerbeck, I was able to contact Eyre and have him answer some questions about his baseball career.
Scott Eyre Interview
Who were your favorite team and player growing up, and why?: Favorite team was Dodgers and player was Orel Hershiser.
What was your draft experience like, and how did you first know the Rangers were interested in drafting you?: The draft was not something I was paying attention to. I didn't know anybody was interested in me and never thought I was going to go in the 9th round!
At any point during your minor league career, did you ever get discouraged or doubt you would eventually make the major leagues?: I think every player wonders if he can make it to the bigs, but I doubted it very much after I had Tommy John surgery in 1994.
How difficult was it for you to accept changing roles from starter to reliever?: Not very difficult. I struggled with consistency as a starter, and when I got to the pen my "stuff" seemed to get better and I was more confident.
What was your favorite moment from your playing career?: The day before my son was born I got a spot start against the A's and I threw 5 no-hit innings and got the win in a combined shutout with the pen
Who was the toughest hitter you ever faced and who did you feel pretty good about seeing coming to the plate?: Toughest was always [Todd] Helton, but I loved seeing Shawn Green come to the plate!
How difficult was it to deal with the pressure of playing in a World Series?: I was told by Robb Nen before my first playoff game in Atlanta (I was with the Giants in 02') that ‘pressure is what you put on yourself, so relax and have fun kid.’
Who was your favorite teammate?: Tough question but I would have to say [Chad] Durbin. We still talk often and stay in touch.
Who was your most influential/favorite coach or manager?: Dave Righetti without a doubt. He changed my career and thought process to pitching.
If you could do anything differently about your playing career, what would that be?: I enjoyed myself but I wish I would have worked harder. I look back now and wish I would have been more like [Scott] Sauerbeck! (He worked his ass off in the off season.)
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