During my sophomore year in Junior College (Angelina JC, Lufkin, Texas), the University of Alabama was interested in me and I was actually going to give them a call to let them know I would sign, but by the time I called, they had taken the offer off the table. I still almost bought one of those Hound's-tooth hats Bear Bryant always wore.
Inside The Ivy: Late last year, you were shut down after a long season in which you led the Cubs' farm system in innings pitched. Describe the reason for the late trip to the sideline.
Ronald Bay: I just had a tired arm. I had some calcium build-up behind my elbow, so I went to the doctors after the last game I threw against Kane County [Sep. 5]. I threw two innings that day and came in and just told them I couldn't feel anything. Leading up to that point, I didn't feel like I had anything on my pitches, so I was just aiming for control. When you do that with a dead arm, you're not going to throw very hard or have much success.
Inside The Ivy: As you get set to report to camp, how is the arm feeling now?
Ronald Bay: Right now, it's feeling really strong. I've worked out hard all off-season. I'm trying to keep my shoulder and elbow strong to make sure they're in good shape. It's actually stronger than it was last year. I'm thinking if I have another season where I throw 160 innings, I won't wear down or be as tired.
Inside The Ivy: Just for fun, what do you do in your spare time?
Ronald Bay: The only thing I really do is pitch. I have a friend that lives three blocks away who is going to San Diego Padres mini-camp. He and I hang out, watch television and go golfing. We went golfing Wednesday, actually. [The WB's] One Tree Hill is probably my favorite show on television. My step mom and I watch it every week. Me and my family are very close.
Inside The Ivy: Who were your biggest inspirations through the years?
Ronald Bay: This is going to sound repetitive, but my dad is the biggest influence in my life and in everything else. Growing up, I played soccer, basketball and baseball. He taught me to be the best in everything and still pushes me to this day and asks, "Did you go throw today?" and I say, "Yes, dad, I did." (laughs) Last fall, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to remove it. He went through chemotherapy and before then, he always said he wanted to get a tattoo. But when he was talking it over with his doctor, he was told he could not do so until after the surgery. So, recently I told him, "Let's both go get the same tattoo," and I put his initials inside mine. That just shows you how influential he is and how much family means.
Inside The Ivy: What was your secret to success last year?
Ronald Bay: My determination to be the best is really high. If I'm going to do something, I'm going balls to the wall and taking no prisoners. Recently, [Peoria Manager] Julio Garcia called and asked if I would help with one of his instructional camps for little leaguers. Mike Anderson, my pitching coach from Lansing last year, was there, too. I think my determination impressed them the most. When I go out there, it doesn't matter what type of hitter I'm facing; I'm not going to take it easy.
Inside The Ivy: Which coach or manager has helped you the most so far in your career?
Ronald Bay: When I first started, [pitching coach] Rick Tronerud helped me out with some minor details that the Cubs had been trying to get me to correct, such as shortening my stride. He and Mike are both great guys. In college, when I first started pitching on a regular basis, my pitching coach, Jeff Livin, was also a big help with my mechanics.
Inside The Ivy: Describe your off-season regime and how you stay in shape. What are some of the things you do to stay fresh?
Ronald Bay: I work out Monday through Friday. Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's, I lift full-body about an hour and a half each day. As of right now, I'm also throwing every day. I always throw before I lift and then go and work out. Some time at night, we'll do some running. I just recently got back into running so as not to gain weight. It doesn't take me much to get back in shape. Before I started throwing, Tuesday's and Thursday's were my only days off. Tuesday's and Friday's, I'll throw on the side. Monday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's, I'll play long toss.
Inside The Ivy: Do you have any thoughts on where you will be assigned once spring training ends?
Ronald Bay: I'm thinking I'll start off in [Class High-A] Daytona, but I won't know until two days before I'm there. I have no clue, but I'm thinking that's where I'll start. I want to start there and do well the first month or two and then get another promotion.
Ronald Bay: Oh, it was awesome. I sat with Dempster quite a bit in the dugout and also in the clubhouse. I loved Ryan. In the clubhouse, Prior's locker was next to mine, so I talked to him a little, too. I didn't want to hound them, so it was more about getting a friendship established and just shooting the [breeze].
Bay is currently working out in Houston. He will join the Cubs in spring training in Mesa within the coming days/weeks. The 21-year-old right-hander was selected by the Cubs in the 25th round of the 2003 draft. He was an Arizona League All-Star with the Mesa Cubs later that year and was promoted to Class Mid-A Lansing the following season. Bay went 11-9 with a 3.10 ERA in 28 starts for Lansing in 2004.