Interview with the Mobile BayBears All-Stars

The Southern League All-Star game is behind us, but some things will never be forgotten. Paul McAnulty won the Home Run Derby and talked about his stint in the Majors with the San Diego Padres. Craig Breslow talked about his successful season. And Ronnie Merrill talked about the future and the past.

Paul McAnulty

On how his season to date has gone:

"I feel my season is going great. I've had a lot of up's this season. I got a chance to play in the big leagues for about a week and a half. Now I'm back here and when I found out I made this (all-star) team, I was excited, you know. It's always great to make an all-star team."

On brief taste of major league action:

"That's the place to be. Everyone knows it's the place to be, but it's not easy to be there. You have to be prepared for what you're doing. You know, just make sure you're ready and then have fun with it. Not too many people get to see that, or be in that atmosphere. It's an unbelievable place, and everything you work for your whole life gets paid off in one day. You still have to work hard. The easy part is getting there; the hard part is staying there. My personal experience, I came up doing one of the toughest jobs in major league baseball, which is pinch-hitting. But I learned a lot and now I'm back here playing every day. I've got to figure out how to help these guys win."

Craig Breslow

It seems like you have had more opportunities of late with holding inherited runners, did you have to prove yourself early on to the club first before the added pressure?

"I think so. And I think that's natural. I came from a different organization and I don't' think the coaches here knew what to expect. I was fortunate to be pretty successful early on and since then I've definitely seen myself pitch in some clutch situations."

You were with New Jersey after being released by the Brewers organization. Was the absence of pressure without scouts watching your every move the reason for the resurrection of Craig Breslow?

"I would say definitely. From the time I was released by New Jersey, I felt like a huge burden had been lifted. I didn't really feel any pressure, so at the time I was just looking to resurrect my career. "

Rumor is you would go to medical school if baseball doesn't work out. Given that you are in the All-Star game, do you put that even further on the backburner?

"Yeah (laughing). Going into baseball, I knew it was kind of a cut-throat career and that I needed some kind of alternative. But it's definitely getting further and further away as I'm having more success here. "

How has pitching coach Mike Harkey helped your game?

Breslow: Oh, he's been a tremendous help. I've seen a lot more success this year than I have in the past, and I definitely attribute a lot of that to him. He brings big league experience and focuses more on the mental approach to pitching as opposed to being strictly a mechanics guy. That's helped me a lot.

Any strange quirks as a lefty out of Princeton, such as garlic in your shoes or onions around your neck?

Breslow: (laughing) Nothing off the top of my head. Well actually, I've been described as the most right-handed left-hander that a lot of people have come across.

Ronnie Merrill

At 26, was making the All-Star team a little bit of validation that you can still play this game?

"Yeah, you know I probably am one of the oldest guys. I think guys my age wouldn't necessarily like to be here, but anytime you can make an all-star game it's an honor; you've worked your way into it. I'm proud of it. To me, it doesn't matter how old I am. I made an all-star team and I think that's something to be proud of."

Does playing in this game remind you a little bit of the MVP tournament run with Tampa?

"Yeah, a little bit. You get the extra media coverage. Tampa was winning the national championship in '98—that's one of the best experiences I've had in baseball so far. This is my second all-star game and the first one I'll get to play in. The first one, I was hurt. So I'm looking forward to it. There are a lot of great players here."

Talk about your versatility on the infield and have you ever played third base?

I have NOT played third base in a professional game, except in the Arizona Fall League. I played third base my freshman year in college. As far as being able to play there, I feel I can do it. I just haven't had the chance to yet.

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