Bielecki on Baseball: Trades, the Draft and the Best Catch Ever
The former Dundalk big leaguer participates in a Q & A with longtime friend Lonnie Nelson, president of the Sharing Hopeful Hearts Foundation, discussing growing up here, pro ball and the O's
Before Mike Bielecki broke in with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1984, on his way to a 14-year big league career, he grew up playing ball little league ball here and pitching for Dundalk High. Career highlights include an 18-7 record with the Chicago Cubs in 1989 and an appearance in the 1996 World Series with the Atlanta Braves. On weekends during baseball season, he’ll participate in a Q & A for Dundalk Patch with longtime friend Lonnie Nelson, president of the Sharing Hopeful Hearts Foundation, on his playing career, the state of baseball and the Orioles – among other topics.
Readers are encouraged to submit questions for upcoming Q & A’s, via e-mail, email@example.com.
Patch: Even though the O's are hanging around .500 they’re still in the American League East cellar. At what time would you start making or entertaining trades?
“There is still some time to see if they can contend for the wild card. By the beginning of July if they are not playing well they might dump salary. The trade dead line is July 31…my birthday...believe me I know!”
Patch: If the O's were to start moving players, in your opinion, who would be available for a trade and which players would be untouchable?
“Young arms untouchable. Weiters. Any veteran that makes big money that is in demand from other clubs is fair game.”
Patch: With the 4th pick of the amateur draft the O's picked a high school pitcher from Oklahoma. Do you agree with picking a high school kid over a college player or is it pick the best player available?
“Best potential to make the big leagues. Since they are a few years away from contending, a young player is a good call. If they were close now, maybe a college stud.”
Patch: Adam Jones made one of the best catches I ever saw last week, reminding me of Ken Griffey Jr. and Willie Mays. What was the best play you remember from your playing days?
“Otis Nixon's over the wall catch in the 1992 playoffs versus Pittsburgh. It starts at 1:40. Saw it in person.”
Patch: There has been much talk about Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista and his sudden home run power over the past two seasons. Comparing the tapes from before and now, there’s a notable difference in his stance and swing. Can the difference between an average player and an All-Star be that simple? Or just having the right coach?
“Don’t think it’s as easy as that – as golfers out there know. It’s about practice, work habits and repetition. A little heart doesn’t hurt either!
Patch: During your playing days did you ever see such a change in a player like Bautista?
“Probably Barry Bonds. He wasn't that good his first two years, but you knew he would take off. Didn't know he would be that good as he got older, if you know what I mean!
Patch: Lately on Sports Center we’ve seen players showing up the other team when they do something they are suppose to do every game. When you played were there unwritten rules about instances when a player would show your pitcher or team up when they would hit a home run?
“Sure was. Show a pitcher up and you would wear a hard one next AB. Act like you have done it before. Bobby Cox would not have it. He would say, ‘If you act like a fool rounding the bases or at home plate and get one of my guys hurt, I’ll be up your butt and you ain’t gonna play for me!’”