MESA, Ariz. — When you walk into a professional locker place, it’s not tricky to figure out who the athletes are. They are the ones with all the muscle groups. They are the ones who really do not appear like me or you or most any individual of our acquaintance.
The other working day, a relatively plain-looking person in a blue T-shirt and blue shorts made his way through the Cubs’ clubhouse and stopped at a stall. This obviously was a stocky, center-aged locker-place attendant. In all probability dropping off a little something for a player. And, indeed, after a couple of minutes, the person walked away.
But he came back and plopped down in the seat in front of the locker as if he owned it, which was odd. Attendants are there to serve, not to sit. Then the husky, no-necked person started pulling on a uniform, which was not just odd but borderline sacrilegious. Who did this male believe he was?
According to the jersey and the identify higher than the locker, this male believed he was Mike Zagurski, No. 48.
So you change. You will not let your preconceived notions rule you. Not you! Plainly, massive Mike was a bullpen catcher. Or a roving insignificant-league teacher whose nameplate experienced uncovered its way higher than a locker in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
Nope. This was Mike Zagurski, aid pitcher.
A surreptitious Google lookup on an Apple iphone uncovered that Zagurski is a 36-yr-previous lefty who has performed for 10 corporations in the United States and two in Japan.
This was wonderful. Here, friends, was a person of us — a 6-foot, 240-pound, deep-dish pitcher. And we need him. The Cubs need him. He could very own Chicago, a metropolis of men just like him. Men named Zagurski. Men named Bronko Nagurski.
Sure, as it turns out, men and women do problem whether our person is a professional ballplayer.
“Often, typically,’’ he explained. “Everywhere. Sometimes men and women will say, ‘What do you do?’ I say, ‘I engage in baseball.’ They say, ‘Oh, you just operate with the group?’ I say, ‘Sure.’ It is not value the headache of trying to [convince them]. I’ve been skinnier. I’ve been heavier. I’ve been a minor bit of every thing. This looks to be my greatest overall performance pounds. It is retained me all around, I guess.
“I unquestionably really do not appear the position compared to the Jason Heywards of the earth and the physically in shape, the bodily specimens. But, yeah, I’m surviving.’’
He is. Since the Phillies selected him in the 12th spherical of the 2005 draft, he has pitched in the majors for the Phillies, the Diamondbacks, the Pirates, the Yankees and the Brewers, compiling a significant 7.78 career Period in 76„ innings. He has also performed for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. Involving the majors, minors, wintertime ball and Japan, he has worn 25 distinct uniforms. He went 11 decades, 23 times between his initial major-league victory (June 7, 2007, for the Phillies from the Mets) and his initial loss (June 30, 2018, for the Brewers from the Reds). All of it speaks of battle and perseverance.
At some issue in his long journey, he realized he was a improved pitcher if he experienced extra meat on his bones. So 240 lbs ., it was. But it’s not as if Everyman has eaten every thing in sight.
“When I was with the Phillies a person yr, they wanted me to get down to 209, and every single pitch was like 86 mph,’’ explained Zagurski, who throws 90 to 92 mph at his present-day pounds. “Then they wanted me to put extra pounds on. I obtained as well massive, and I just did not like the way I moved. I did not come to feel my entire body was operating as very well as it should.
“It’s unquestionably been a high-quality line of a minor extra, a minor considerably less. I turned a minor bit extra flexible. I did a minor considerably less significant lifting. Just trying to come across out what operates greatest.’’
He might not appear like a typical ballplayer, but he thinks lots of of the veterans in the clubhouse know who he is from encounter.
“I would think about if they just observed me feeding on dinner down the street, they would hardly ever appear twice,’’ he explained. “But getting all around as long as I have, they probably know me. Participating in from me, they probably made jokes about me.’’
He explained he prides himself on getting reasonably athletic. It is pointed out to him that of study course he’s athletic he’s a professional baseball player.
“Professional pitcher,’’ he explained, correcting his questioner. “I really do not want to in excess of-athlete myself, compared to these other men. Yeah, I get by.’’
Any player who is standing in the Cubs’ spring-coaching locker place in February has a prospect of producing the group. Some have a improved prospect than other individuals, of study course. Zagurski knows precisely who and what he is.
“I believe the greatest issue you can do is exhibit them what you’re able of,’’ he explained. “You’re unquestionably usually trying to make a group, but the practical aspect of it is that you’re a depth piece, and you want to just exhibit that, hey, I’m able of executing this. I’ll be down there if you need me. I’ll do my greatest.’’
Until eventually then, he’ll keep on to believe very good views about the likelihood of playing for the group he adopted as a kid expanding up in Omaha, Nebraska. He watched the Cubs’ title run in 2016 with more fascination.
“I think about it’s harder for these men to be just standard men and women and go out to dinner after the World Collection,’’ he explained.
If there is a person male who could be successful in Chicago and continue to go out to dinner unnoticed, it would be Zagurski.
“Fact, actuality,’’ he explained. “Just appear like the widespread people.’’