Where There's a Will There's a Way

Will Startup had a stellar career for the Georgia Bulldogs. From 2003 to 2005, Will had 16-10 record with 19 saves. In 2005, he was a 5th round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves and since then he has starred for them as well. So far this season, he had one appearance at Single A before getting promoted to Double A. In Mississippi, Will is 3-0 with 3 saves and a 0.95 ERA. Who knows... he could be the next callup by the Braves, but first he talked to me.

Dave McMahon -- Did you always want to be a professional baseball player?
Will Startup -- When I was 4 years old my older brother Drew played baseball, I followed soon after. I always loved the game and I knew this is something I dreamed about doing. When I was in high school, I wouldn't play other sports except for baseball so I could get better. In college I understood the importance of an education, but it was baseball what I wanted to do.

DM -- What is the every day life like for a minor league baseball player?

WS -- It's like college baseball, but without the school. For the most part we sleep, eat some food, and go to the ballpark. Life is pretty great.

DM -- Do you pay attention to the Braves and the chance that they might call you up?

WS -- One good thing about playing at Mississippi is that generally the Braves are on a 7:00 pm eastern and we are on central time. That way we can watch about a half hour of the Braves game, before our game. As for getting called up, I can't concern myself with that... all I can do is my best.

DM -- In your short time in the minors, have you faced any of your former teammates or other Bulldogs from the past?

WS -- I faced Marshall Szabo and he got a hit off me up the middle. I played with Clint Sammons last year. I constantly play against a lot of people from the SEC.

DM -- Do you follow the current Bulldogs?

WS -- You better believe I do! I follow them a lot. Before my season I stayed in Athens and worked out with them. I love the Dawgs!

DM -- When you were at Georgia you did both, but did you like starting or closing?

WS -- I definately liked closing better. It suits my personality better. I like that I can pitch a few days a week. When you close, you don't have time to think, you just pitch on instinct.

DM -- What was your favorite memory at Georgia?

WS -- Two of them I think about a lot. Clemson in the 2004 regional, we were down and then we came back in dramatic fashion. The other one is when we played Tech in the super regional. I was on the mound when Jonathan Wyatt secured the final out and we went crazy. Everyone was jumping up and down and we had the biggest dawg pile. I was on the bottom and someone's jersey kept rubbing against my face and it almost rubbed it raw. It felt awful, but I didn't care because we were going to the College World Series.

DM -- What do you miss most about Athens?

WS -- I miss the team chemistry of playing at Georgia. I miss hanging out with the whole team, I don't miss school, but I loved playing at Georgia. I miss Foley Field at the atmosphere that surrounds it.

DM -- Any place or restaurant that you wish you could take away from Athens and bring to Mississippi?

WS -- I miss Inoko Express on the east side. I get the steak, fried rice and sweet tea. I would go there 4-5 times a month.

DM -- How much is the minor leagues like the movie "Bull Durham"?

WS -- There is a lot of things that are the same. The team is full of older guys and younger guys, we joke around a lot... baseball has the funniest guys. We travel a lot, some stadiums are good and some are bad. We go to a lot of unusual places.

DM -- The minor leagues have a ton of promotions. What are some of the craziest promotions that your team or another team has done that you have seen?

WS -- We have human bowling and sumo wrestling. We have a little bit of everything. In Montgomery, there is a train the runs behind the left field wall during the games, and if any of their players hit the train on a home run, the mayor will give them $1,000.

DM -- Thank you for your time and good luck in reaching the majors real soon.

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