BEFORE SUNDAY'S GAME
SHANKS: Tell me how you found out about your promotion?
BOYER: During BP in West Tennessee we saw (Mississippi trainer) Mike Graus get a phone call. He ran over to Snit (Mississippi Manager Brian Snitker), who then ran over to Kent (Willis, Mississippi Pitching Coach). I saw Kent smile real big. (Mississippi right-hander) Matt Wright and I were watching this whole thing unfold in front of us. We saw everything. I remember saying, "something is going on here." Then Snit said, "Hey Blaine, come over here." I was like, "Oh no way." So I walked over there and they said, "Pack your bags boy, you are going to Atlanta."
SHANKS: Who told you?
BOYER: They both did. Kent and Snit. I grabbed Kent and threw him against the wall and just started wrestling with him. By that time, the whole team had stopped BP and ran over and dog-piled me in the bullpen. It was awesome. It was awesome. It was definitely a day I will never forget. I was so fired up. You know how I am with the Braves. I mean we're sitting here right now in Turner Field getting ready to play the Oakland A's.
SHANKS: Did you have any idea at all that this could happen?
BOYER: I was hoping that I would get a chance at some point this year – whether it was a September call-up or what. I just started relieving a few weeks ago, so I just figured it was going to be a process where they'd get me in as many situations as possible before they'd send me up here. I'm going to take this opportunity and run with it.
SHANKS: Your team in Mississippi had already been through an emotional week with Heep (Brian McCann) getting the call to Atlanta, so this just topped it.
BOYER: It was nuts. Two days ago I was sitting on the couch waiting for the first pitch when he was catching. Once the first pitch was thrown and he caught it the ball I remember just going nuts. Then on the third out of that inning, they fouled the ball up and he caught it. We all went nuts again. Then he got a base hit, and we all went nuts again. We were just so fired up for McCann and just going nuts and then the next day we hear he hits a bomb. So again we went nuts. We didn't see it. We just heard about it. Then 45 minutes later they let me know I'm going up. I remember I called my mom up just bawling. I couldn't get in touch with my dad until about ten minutes before the plane took off for the runway. So everybody else knew except him. Everybody knew besides my dad. It took me a couple of hours to get in touch with him.
SHANKS: What did your mom say?
BOYER: She couldn't talk. I had to let her go. I couldn't understand what she was saying. She knows what I've been through. All my parents, my brothers, and my friends they all know what I've been through. They know this was my dream. I've worked my butt off. It's a dream come true. I've got at least 300 people at the game today. It's going to be outstanding.
SHANKS: What did some of the guys say to you before you left last night?
BOYER: They just dog-piled me and they gave me a hug. They were just going nuts. They all said, "Man don't come back." They gave me their best. I immediately had to go run hit the showers and go pack up and try to catch a plane, so I didn't get to talk to them much. I talked to Tucker, Glenn Tucker, my roommate. He called me right when my plane landed, so I talked with him for a while. I got all those guys backing me in Mississippi.
SHANKS: We've talked about you Georgia kids coming up for years now, and it's happened in the last month with Davies and now this week with you and Heep. What does it mean to have this happen now? It's happened a little sooner than we expected. It's here.
BOYER: It is here. What Georgia boys are we missing right now? Francoeur and Chuckie James? I hope Atlanta is getting ready to brace themselves, because we're getting ready to bring some fire into the team. I think they are going to like it.
SHANKS: So what happened when you got here?
BOYER: Well I'll tell you this I walked out here and was looking up and checked out this screen (new matrix board). I was trying to walk at the same time and about fell on my face. I got dizzy. That thing is unbelievable. I've never said anything like that before. I mean that thing is unreal. Then walking on the field seeing all of these stands. I hardly ever play in a stadium that's got seats in the outfield. I never play in a stadium with two levels. This one has three. It's in my hometown. I slept in my bed last night. It's awesome.
SHANKS: So when I called you last night you had some people over?
BOYER: Yeah, just some buddies who were up and not out. They picked me up at the airport and took me back over to the house. One of them gave me a ride to the park this morning. I've got nothing. I've got my clothes that I had on the road. For a minor league road trip, seven days, you maybe take some shorts and some T-shirts and a pair of pants. I left all my stuff at home.
SHANKS: So LaRoche has got to take you shopping in Dallas tomorrow, huh?
BOYER: Yeah, he is.
SHANKS: So you rode in. What was it like to ride in here this morning?
BOYER: You know what was the coolest thing that really hit home for me? Right when I got off the plane and my buddies picked me up we were driving down I-75 and we passed the stadium. I've passed that stadium so many times, and now it's where I play. It's a different feeling.
SHANKS: Ok, three weeks ago today I watched you in Jacksonville in your last start and you were outstanding. Then they moved you right to the bullpen. Six games as a reliever and good numbers. How did you feel going back to the pen?
BOYER: I love it. I was relieved when they decided to do it. My first few outings I felt great. I had one rough outing where I gave up two runs. But it's been what I thought it would be. I've been able to feed off my adrenaline, which is something you can't do when you start. My mechanics are there, and as long as and I stay within myself I feel like I'm going to be all right and I feel like I can compete with anybody. And so do the Braves, and it's important to have their backing.
SHANKS: Do you feel like you're ready for this?
BOYER: Definitely. My agent, Steve Hammond, called me. He and I are real, real close. We talked about what it's going to be like that first time you go out there and that first time you go out there on the mound. He told me that he just wanted me to have the confidence that it's the same exact game as it was when I was eight years old. It's the same game. I told him, "Steve, I've gone over this in my head a million times over. I'm so ready for this time in my life." I'm ready to go Bill.
SHANKS: I remember the story about when you came for a tryout here right before you were drafted. You were sicker than a dog with the flu and almost threw up when you had to go tryout for the Braves' brass.
BOYER: I told them, "Just draft me. I'm not going to disappoint you. I want this opportunity." I'm so thankful they did. I'm on cloud nine right now.
SHANKS: Yeah, you could have been a third baseman with the Giants right now.
BOYER: Instead I'll help get them out. I'm fired up about that. It couldn't be a better organization to be with.
AFTER SUNDAY'S GAME
SHANKS: What was it like?
BOYER: I was pretty fired up. I tried to calm myself down way too much. I felt myself really getting into the moment. Next time I'll go all at them again and hopefully get better results.
SHANKS: Did you know after the rain delay you were coming in?
BOYER: Well they told me right at the tail end of the rain delay that I was coming in.
SHANKS: So you had some time to prepare?
SHANKS: A couple of line drives.
BOYER: Kotsay got that hit. I left that ball up. Next time I'll know what to do and I'll go after them. But it was a great experience though. First outing. All the family was in the stands. Next time, though, I'll be ready to go.
SHANKS: Did you hear your family?
BOYER: No I couldn't hear anything. But it was awesome.
REPORTER: Besides the line drives, were you happy with your stuff otherwise?
BOYER: Yeah, otherwise. I just have to keep my arm speed up on my off speed pitches. But I'll learn from this outing. The ball that was hit to right field – I left that up. He turned on it good. When I got to the dugout, Smoltz and those guys were saying he was a fastball hitter. Like I said, I learned and next time it'll be different. I felt like I made two good pitches there to Kendall. Even though the 3-2 was a bit outside, but I still felt like I was making that pitch. Next time I'll be better. I'm not up here to give up runs. I'm up here to give the ball to Kolb and Reitsma and let them get their job done.
REPORTER: Now that it's over, are you kind of glad that this first one is out of the way?
BOYER: Of course, get that first one out of the way. I just wish I would have been a little better.
Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development with the Braves as a main focus. "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team" features a chapter on Blaine Boyer and the Georgia kids in Atlanta and in the Braves' system. The new book is in bookstores now. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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