Cubs Interview: Ryan O'Malley

Just over two weeks ago, left-hander Ryan O'Malley made his unexpected major league debut at Minute Maid Park against the Houston Astros and threw eight shutout innings in a 1-0 Cubs victory. Unlike many players leading up to their big league debuts, O'Malley didn't go through the normal routine of butterflies and pre-game jitters. He didn't have time.

The 26-year-old Springfield, Ill., native was with the Cubs' Triple-A team in nearby Round Rock, Texas, on the eve of his major league debut. The Cubs and Astros went 18 innings on Tuesday night through early Wednesday morning with the Cubs having gone through their entire roster and pitching staff to secure an 8-6 win.

In the early Wednesday morning hours, O'Malley was told that he'd be going to Houston in time for that afternoon's 1 p.m. contest. The southpaw didn't have much time to let his pending big league debut sink in.

O'Malley would make his Wrigley Field debut on Aug. 22 and left the game with a strained left elbow. He went on the disabled list the following day, but is still with the team and hopes to return soon.

Inside The Ivy: First, a belated congratulations from us on your first major league victory. It's no secret you've been getting a lot of nice publicity, especially from the Springfield area.

Ryan O'Malley: Yeah, it's pretty unbelievable with the opportunity to get called up and the way it happened. I don't know if you heard the story of how my folks got there, but they chartered a plane on to Houston. In my hometown of Springfield, I grew up a Cubs fan my entire life. I was only a few hours from Wrigley Field and there are a lot of Cub fans in my hometown. I went to junior college there and a lot of people from there have followed my career. The debut and the way it turned out, I couldn't have asked for much more.

Inside The Ivy: You've probably been asked this ad nauseum, but what was going through your mind when you first stepped onto the field in Houston?

Ryan O'Malley: Well, at Minute Maid, I didn't have a whole lot of time to think about what was going on. They knocked on my door at six o'clock in the morning [in Round Rock] and I got into a limo at 6:45. I showed up at [Minute Maid] at 10:45. By the time I met some of the coaches and got some breakfast in me, next thing I know I'm out on the mound and just trying to pitch like it was another start in the minors. There were a lot more fans, but I didn't really have time to soak all that in. I just tried to pitch like I had been.

Inside The Ivy: What about pitching at Wrigley for the first time?

Ryan O'Malley: I was probably more hyped up for that game just because it was my ultimate dream to pitch at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs. Half of Springfield was probably there. It was an unbelievable experience. Words really can't describe what I was feeling and going through.

Inside The Ivy: How does the elbow feel right now?

Ryan O'Malley: I was just sitting here thinking about how much mixed emotions I had about being taken out. I didn't want to come out of that game for anything, but at the same time, I have a career ahead of me and don't want to do anything to hurt my arm that would put me out for a long period of time. It scared the heck out of me, just because I'd never been on the DL and had never been injured. I'm really fortunate that I'm not going to have to have surgery.

Inside The Ivy: What's the plan for these next few days to get you back on the mound?

Ryan O'Malley: My arm is feeling better every single day. These next few days, I'll probably start playing catch again. They want me to be pain-free before I start throwing again and can go forward. In the next couple of days, hopefully everything will be fine and I'll try to finish out the season strong.

Inside The Ivy: Back in June, I mentioned how few batters you'd walked at Triple-A at the time and you said I jinxed you. Still feel you're jinxed?

Ryan O'Malley: (laughing) No. At the beginning of the season, you have to go into every year having goals with the mind frame that you want to get to the big leagues. You have to set your goals high and it's just been a tremendous season. I've worked hard and it's paid off by being able to get out there and hopefully having an opportunity to make a name for myself. You never know what's going to happen.

Inside The Ivy: With all these cities that you're getting a chance to go to now, had you ever been to places like Pittsburgh?

Ryan O'Malley: I'd never been to Pittsburgh. St. Louis is closer to Springfield than Chicago, so I had a lot of friends and family come down for that series.

Inside The Ivy: So how did you resist the temptation of growing up a Cardinal fan?

Ryan O'Malley: Yeah, you know in Springfield, it's probably 60/40 Cardinal country. My mom, dad and both grandma's were Cub fans. And then to have the nickname "Ryno," it was a no-brainer to be a Cubs fan.

Inside The Ivy: How proud does it make you seeing so many players you fought with to get to the major leagues now with the club as well?

Ryan O'Malley: It's a good feeling. You walk into the clubhouse and see some familiar faces instead of saying, "Well, I'll just sit over here and not talk to anybody." You walk in and see six or seven familiar faces. To battle in the minors and work hard, and grow up through the organization ... as a minor leaguer, we all have the same goal: you want the Cubs to have some homegrown players in the big leagues.

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