AT THE PLATE
Baseball player you admired growing up: Alan Trammell. Growing up in the Detroit area, I liked the way he played - he played hard. I was a pitcher and a shortstop for a while, so he was a guy I idolized. He was a good player, a solid player for some good teams in the '80s.
What was it like pitching for Detroit with Trammell as your manager? That definitely was a big thrill. I had a chance to meet him when the Diamondbacks came to town (in 2004), and that was a big thrill. Then having the opportunity to play for him in spring training and when I was called up was definitely a dream come true.
Favorite college football team: Both of my parents went to Michigan State, so I grew up a Spartan fan. My wife went to the University of Michigan, so there's a little bit of a rivalry there. I'll always be a Spartan fan.
If you could meet one player, dead or alive, who would it be? It would be fun to talk to Babe Ruth. I'm sure he's got some great stories, and playing in that era is so different from what I've learned baseball to be like. He was really the first guy to put baseball on the map. I think he'd be a pretty interesting person to talk to.
Favorite CD/song: I'm a big Beatles fan, so you can take your pick - Sergeant Pepper, Abbey Road, Revolver, I could go on and on.
Favorite pizza topping: I'm a pepperoni guy. I keep it simple. You can put some extra cheese on it if you'd like.
Favorite city in the International League, other than Toledo: I haven't been to Indianapolis or Louisville, and I've heard they are both pretty nice. I liked Pawtucket; I didn't pitch very well there, but Providence was a really nice city.
If you were commissioner of baseball for a day, what would you do? Just a day? Then I'd probably get rid of the designated hitter. Coming up [through the minors] with a National League team, I liked that style of baseball better. Plus, it's a lot nicer facing a pitcher in the number nine spot than facing a .300 hitter. It just seems like there's a little more strategy to the game, too.
Favorite way to spend time away from the field: I would say golfing, but I played a horrible round today so that's out. My wife and I purchased a house about six months ago, so we're starting to get that in shape. I'm starting to enjoy putting up cabinets or doing some painting and stuff like that. It keeps us busy.
Favorite sports memory: I've had a few of them. One was getting the call-up to the big leagues and making my major-league debut. That's every kid's dream, to put on a big-league uniform. I've had that opportunity, and that's a dream come true for me. Another was in high school, where my team won the state championship my junior year. And playing with my brother when I was 10 years old and he was 8; my dad was the coach, and that was one of the only times we got to do that. It's a memory I hold fondly, because those opportunities don't always come around.
Something nobody knows about you: I can throw left-handed pretty well. It's something I taught myself when I had Tommy John surgery [on my right, or pitching, arm] just to break up the monotony of the rehab. I was horrible when I started, then I got better and better. I was rehabbing with a Rookie-league team and I was hoping they would let me pitch an inning left-handed, but unfortunately they didn't. I got up to 72 [miles per hour], which isn't too bad throwing from the opposite side.
- John Wagner