Playoff Q&A: Hagerstown's Dante Brinkley

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – Dante Brinkley was as stunned as anyone to be playing in the South Atlantic League Championships Monday, especially after finishing his season (or so he thought) in the Florida State League. Brinkley discussed his season's wild finish with Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch:

I guess the obvious question is, how did you come to be back here with the Suns?

Carlos Gomez had got hurt (groin injury) the night before and they needed somebody to come in and replace him [against Delmarva], so I got a call early Saturday morning. They flew me out that day, and I landed 20 or 30 minutes before game time. It was crazy.

What was your reaction when you got that call?

I was a little surprised, because I was knocked out sleeping. I had no knowledge of what had happened to Carlos, so I was real surprised. But you have to shake that off and try and focus on the game.

As something of a newcomer to this roster, what is the vibe like in this clubhouse now that it's postseason time? Is it how you remember it?

Most of the guys are pretty excited. Some of the other guys are following the other guys around who have been here all year and seeing what they do, but the message is the same – go out and win, go out and win. It's winning, winning, winning, and everyone's excited. Most of the guys are happy to be in a situation that they are now, because these situations don't come around too often, to play for a championship.

Are you in that group of guys that are happy to be here, or not so much?

I mean, yeah. To come back and help finish what I started instead of just getting my ring in the mail – having to do with the championship part instead of just helping them make the playoffs. I'm getting used to it because I stayed at home and didn't play baseball for like a week. It's kind of weird, but now I'm kind of warming up a little bit.

Gene Richards said you were one of the leaders who really made an impact on this team in the first half. What do you feel you added to the mix?

We had a lot of young guys and some older guys, so it was pretty much split 50-50. We just tried to get them to the point where they'd come out and play every day in their first season, their first full seasons. They didn't really understand the grind, day-in, day-out; not getting too high and not getting too low. It's kind of just helping them out and give them a heads-up, and lead by example.

Have you been able to pick out a reason why your first half went so well?

No reason in particular. Myself, I think I've had good years every year I've played professional ball, so I don't think this one year stands out any more than another. I just think more people are paying attention, and that's why I think I'm having a so-called astounding year.

Are you at all a different player after this season than you were before it?

Physically, no. Mentally, I think I'm a little bit stronger just because it's my third year of professional ball. Now, it's to the point where I've been on teams and seen a lot that goes on in professional baseball. So to that point I'd say I'm starting to get to the consistency point most guys get to in their third, fourth and fifth years of professional baseball.

Do you feel that's what you've proven, the consistency element?

Yeah, but I always have a long way to go. I'm just trying to improve on things that I think, myself, I need to improve on. I'm the biggest critic of myself, so I just try to improve each day.

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