MadFriars' Interview: Jason Lane

EL PASO - It’s a common saying in baseball that some players will stay in the game until you tear the jersey off of their back.

They may have to do a little more for Jason Lane.

Lane is thirty-eight years old and eight years removed from when he was an everyday outfielder with the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres. Since that time he’s bounced around the minor leagues with a few organizations, played two years in the independent leagues and after being briefly promoted by the Padres last year was designated for assignment twice afterwards.

And he’s coming back for more.

“Last year I got called up and was able to perform, was able to compete,” Lane said on his success last season.

As for how long he plans to stay, “as long as I can compete, I have dreams just like the young guys.”

In 2014 Lane had somewhat of a magical season. He threw 149.2 innings to lead the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas with a 9-9 record and a 4.51 ERA and hit .362/.444/.580 in 79 plate appearances as a pitcher, designated hitter, first baseman and pinch-hitter.

Oh yeah, in two call-ups with the Padres he appeared in 10.1 innings with an 0.87 ERA - which was seven years after his last appearance in the big leagues; as a hitter. It was his appearance as a pitcher at the major league level.

This season Lane is back again in El Paso, and also leading the team in innings pitched with 145 but his numbers are not quite as strong with a 5.59 ERA and his bat is only at .093 this season as there are fewer opportunities to get in the game with the increased talent in the outfield and on the bench.

As with El Paso’s other “thirtysomething” starters Chris Smith and Daniel McCutchen, the left-handed Lane relies of location and change of speeds to get batters out.

“Both fastballs are in the mid to high 80s. I throw a change-up, which has been my best pitch this year, along with a slider and a curve ball.”

“I pride myself on being able to throw any pitch at any time. It’s something I need to be able to do to compete.”

While Lane is an interesting story for a variety of reasons, his age, big league career, ability to hit as a pitcher and even being one of the rare left-handed throwing, right-handed hitting players in baseball - the most valuable contribution that he may make on the team is his role as a de-facto coach/mentor to nearly every player on the club.

“He is a great asset and he will have as long a future as he wants in this game,” said Chihuahuas’ outfielder Jake Goebbert.

“He sees and knows things from both sides on the field and he also helps a lot off of the field.”

At his age Lane is well aware that every day out on the field could be his last could see a future for himself in coaching.

“I’ve had some conversations about that when the time comes,” Lane said when talking about his post-playing career. “I love the game and certainly want to be part of it. I feel like I have been through most situations on both sides of the ball so I think I have some things to offer.”

I enjoy the game and like talking about it.”

The obvious reason why so many players gravitate towards Jason is not only his sixteen years in professional baseball both on the mound and in the box, but his unique ability to put the game in perspective and help ease the pressure to make the big leagues, which is especially prevalent at the Triple-A level.

“At the beginning of my career I pressed so hard to get to the big leagues and the past two years I’ve gotten a lot better at being present,” Lane said on how he deals with the pressure to get back to the big leagues. “Not worrying about where I need to be but how I can best perform today and it has really allowed me to perform and play better.”

“One of my beliefs is to try to affect someone everyday and get off of yourself. I think it will come back to you because when you get to centered on yourself the game will eat you up. It’s an individual sport within a team game, and I think sometimes we all lose sight of that.”

“When you try to help someone else, you help everybody.”

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