Overall, Blaine is still disappointed, but as he says, the worst is over. "Personally, it's been pretty frustrating. I was here last year, but was hurt. This year, it's just been a struggle to maintain any consistency," said Blaine. That frustration is all in the past tense now though as Blaine has turned things around for himself and is posting solid numbers out of the BlueClaws' bullpen. In his 12 second half games, Blaine has a 2.70 ERA with a win and a save to his credit. The oblique injury that he suffered last season and the shoulder issues that he dealt with are all gone and he's healthy. Plus, his soul searching at the break has put him in a good spot mentally, which is helping his performance on the field.
Actually, Blaine's time in Lakewood last season has led to an interesting promotional idea for the BlueClaws. A car that he and a former teammate shared to get around last year will be given away to a lucky fan at the BlueClaws' August 29th game. The car - nicknamed "White Lightning" - will be autographed by the entire team, which could provide for a hefty boost in the value of the car down the road. So, just why are the BlueClaws giving away Blaine's white Geo Metro? Well, Blaine brought his car from home this season and White Lightning is no longer needed, so in the spirit of Minor League Baseball, it becomes a great promotion. "The air conditioning alone was worth the price of the car," joked Blaine. "It has great air conditioning and it's fun to drive." So, are there other great features on the car? How about a great stereo system? "The radio's all right. It's not a Bose sound system or anything, but if you want to listen to ESPN radio, it's all right."
Blaine is hoping that things will work well enough for him that his autograph on White Lightning will become a valuable piece of optional equipment and he's looking to do whatever he needs to do to climb the ladder to the majors. This season, Blaine has switched to the bullpen full-time and he's adapted. "I started my whole life and then pitched in the bullpen a little last year and then this year. I just want to get out there and throw. Whatever way, I was hoping to move up as quick as possible, so I don't really have much of a preference," said Blaine.
Continued success over the final couple weeks of the season would help Blaine's chances of a promotion to Clearwater next season and would help the value of his White Lightning autograph as well. And that's all he's hoping to do at this point.
Audio Extra: Justin Blaine was a guest on Philly Baseball News Radio on August 18th and you can hear the entire interview.
Philly Baseball News Radio can be heard Saturday mornings at 9 on AM 1230 and 1320 in Easton, PA.