Let’s revisit several conversations tied into one with Dodgers ace Derek Lowe and Diamondbacks max effort outfielder Eric Byrnes.
DS: You really truly enjoyed the experience of the Dominican Winter League, didn’t you?
EB: I did, I went down there originally because the A’s wanted me to. I went down and my first year there, I was fortunate enough to win the MVP Award, which an American hadn’t won in about 20 years. Because of that I think there was some kind of a crazy connection between myself and the Dominican people. I played for Licey, which is kind of like the Yankees of the Dominican; it was the team the whole country followed every night. We were on TV and we were a team everyone was always talking about and expected to win.
I just really had a great experience and I continued to go down there even after I established myself in the Major Leagues, which not too many guys do. So I played four winters down there and the winter heading into 2006 was the first winter I had taken off. But, what a great situation and I think so often people here in the United States don’t truly understand where many of the Latin players come from and how little they had growing up. I’m sure there are exceptions, but there are two classes down there: the high society and the people who have next to nothing. For the most part, the majority of the ballplayers that are playing here are the people who had nothing. When I say nothing, I’m talking about running water and electricity. It was hard for me to fathom until I actually got down there and saw it. We are so fortunate to live with all of the amenities that we have here and I don’t think that I fully understood and the fans fully understand where a lot of these guys come from.
DS: Do you miss the intensity of Fenway and Boston a little bit?
DL: Absolutely, because a lot of times those crowds in Fenway could get you through the beginning of a game, because for those people that think that every single time out you are fired up, it’s just not the case. Whether you want it or not, there are days that you are a bit lethargic and so the crowd at Fenway instantly picks you up and many times it truly helped. As the Dodgers have returned to their winning ways you have seen more of the sellout crowds and the intensity at the ballpark. Here’s hoping we can match that east coast edge at Dodger Stadium.
DS: What is your dream “guy’s” day and, at the end of that day, what is the beverage of choice?
EB: That’s tough to say, I’m a pretty active guy and enjoy doing a lot of things. It would probably be waking up in the morning out in Half Moon Bay where I live, which is about 2 miles south of San Francisco, and hittin’ the waves for an hour and a half or two hour surfing session. Then I’d stop at Three Amigos, the burrito joint out there, grab a couple burritos and hop in the Shaggin’ Wagon, my conversion van I have. Then it would be time to head up to Tahoe and get there in time for the afternoon slope run and do a little skiing in the afternoon. Then I’d finish it up out by the lake, sipping on a….let’s throw some Latin or Dominican flavor in there…sipping on a Presidente, which is their national beer. Then finish it up relaxed by the camp fire.
DS: Dream day…beverage?
DL: It would be a full day of golf, hands down. Then when we finished, it would be spending time looking out over a great view while enjoying a nice cigar and a scotch. So again…a round of golf with friends, then on a lanai, hopefully you won the match, blue label scotch and a nice cigar. You couldn’t ask for anything better.
I can’t wait to talk baseball with all of you at Fan Fest at Chase Field this coming Saturday. After that, you can expect something on this site from Spring Training almost daily. See you soon.