Catching up with Tyler Colvin

To suggest Tyler Colvin had a nice run at Clemson would be the understatement of the year.

As a junior, the Georgia native led the Tigers in four offensive categories, including a .356 average.

But the big hits, particularly the homeruns with the game, and even the season on the line, are what Clemson fans remember the most.

He was always thought of in baseball circles as a legitimate pro prospect during his time in Tigertown so it wasn't a shock to see the Chicago Cubs take him with the 13th overall pick of the June 2006 amateur draft.

Colvin made his way up the ladder in the Cubs organization, finally reaching the Windy City last September before he performed well enough to earn a spot on the Cubs' opening day roster this season. While most of his action so far in 2010 has come either as a pinch hitter, spot starter or defensive replacement late in games, he is still making a meaningful contribution to the Cubbies.

He also has another Clemson product in the locker room in Jeff Baker to help show him the way in the big leagues.

Recently sat down with Tyler to get his thoughts on a variety of topics and here is an unedited transcript of that conversation:

Tyler first off tell us about your time at Clemson - obviously it ended up being a pretty special experience
Colvin: It was a great time in my life. Nothing replaces college. My three years of it was great, especially at Clemson. Being part of a winning program and having a chance to go to the College World Series was awesome. To have memories like that, I'll have those forever.

"It was a great time in my life. Nothing replaces college. My three years of it was great, especially at Clemson. Being part of a winning program and having a chance to go to the College World Series was awesome. To have memories like that, I'll have those forever." (Roy Philpott)
What are the biggest lessons you took away from playing for Coach Leggett?
Colvin: Always to play hard, be aggressive and leave it all out on the field.

How has this year been for you thus far playing for the Cubs?
Colvin: It's definitely a good experience for me, coming off the bench and trying to get that big hit or coming in and playing good defense to help the team win the game. It's awesome. I give these guys a break when they want a day off. None of them want a day off, but if Lou (Piniella) thinks they need a day off, I'm there to go and hopefully they can plug me right in without missing a beat.

Since you're technically still a rookie, have you had to endure any hazing yet?
Colvin: It's not too bad. We have something at the end of the year every year. I'm not looking forward to it again but right now, I know my place. I try to stay out of everyone's way and do my job.

So, you don't have to carry around the dreaded pink backpack like some other rookies?
Colvin: Not for me, for the rookie pitcher, he has to carry the pink backpack out to the bullpen. Beyond that, it's not too bad.

What was going through your head when you made your big-league debut last fall?
Colvin: I was really nervous. It was very exciting for me. It was in Milwaukee. To go up there, to get plugged right into the game and contribute in some way, I hit a sac fly and got my first hit out the way my next at bat. It was great for me. Yeah, there were some jitters before the game but once I got on the field, I was very comfortable out there and ready to go.

Talk about what it was like to go through the whole Tommy John surgery.
Colvin: It was tough. Just to sit out that long, you've got a lot of time to think and a lot of time to just work out and not be out on the field. I can look back on that as a positive, just to get away from the game a little bit and really focus on what I was trying to do with my career and focus on getting healthy. It's a tough recovery. It's very monotonous. You keep doing the same thing over and over again every day. You see the light at the end of the tunnel once you start to throw and each week, you get to back it up a little more.

Colvin is batting .293 this year in the Windy City with five homeruns and 13 RBI. (Getty Images)
What's it like having Jeff Baker as a teammate in Chicago?
Colvin: It's great. He's shown me the way. He's keeping me in check here. It's good to have a guy like him here because we have the same views about the game because he played with the same coach. We both like to play hard. It's good to have him with me.

Baker went to Omaha twice at Clemson while you only went there once. How much does he remind you of that?
Colvin: He doesn't bring that up much. He always brings up the home run stats. He'll ask me how many home runs I hit? I tell him I didn't have that many because I'm not really a home run hitter. He's got that on me definitely. He had a great college career, one of the best at Clemson. It's good to be playing with him now because he's one of those guys I really looked up to, especially going there because that big group of him, Khalil (Greene) and Michael Johnson. Those three were the reasons I went to Clemson.

So what's it like playing at Wrigley Field?
Colvin: It's a great atmosphere because the fans really care and they're into the game. It's not like some big stadiums where you just hear a bunch of chatter. They're into the game, chanting for the team. It's exciting and it gets you ready to play.

Does No. 21 have special meaning for you?
Colvin: Yeah, it has some special meaning. That was my number in college. I've always wanted to be that number and just to have the opportunity to get it this year was pretty exciting.

Who did you idolize growing up?
Colvin: The Braves were right there. I grew up watching a lot of Dave Justice, Chipper Jones and those guys. Anyone from the Braves, I knew their whole team. I really enjoyed watching them play.

How do you like playing for a fiery guy like Lou Piniella?
Colvin: It's good. I'm used to intensity and fire out there. He's passionate about the game. He wants to win as badly as we do. It's tough when you don't because you know that you're not just playing for these guys in here, you're playing for him too because he really wants us to do well.

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