Ed: Tom scored an interview with Ryan LaMarre, the recently-departed star of the baseball team. LaMarre was drafted in the second round by the Reds and just signed, giving up his senior year of eligibility. In his first game in the minors he stole three bases(!).
TOM: Let’s go back to high school to start. What sports did you play, and when did you know that baseball was the sport you’d go with?
RYAN: I played baseball, football, and hockey for Lumen Christi in Jackson. Probably at the end of my sophomore year of baseball is when I knew. I took an unofficial visit to Michigan at the end of that year. That was really when it started clicking that I would have to seriously start playing summer baseball, and try to get to that next level.
TOM: What made you decide on Michigan? I’m assuming there were other schools calling.
RYAN: It was probably coach Maloney, first and foremost. I had a couple other schools lined up that I wanted to look at. I actually had an official visit scheduled to North Carolina the week before my senior season started. Coach Maloney found that out, and he came in on an in home visit. He told me where he saw me fitting in, and sold the program really well. I never ended up taking the visit to North Carolina, and committed to Michigan.
TOM: Did you have a particular game that stood out to you at Michigan?
RYAN: Coming into this year, it was hosting the regional; the game against Arizona. The atmosphere, and the importance of the game, it was a pretty cool experience. The last couple years haven’t been as successful as we would’ve liked. The northwestern game, though, when we cam back from 13 runs. That was the most exciting game I’ve ever been a part of.
TOM: There were rumors from the start that you maybe had a plan of playing at Michigan for three years, then leaving. Is that true?
RYAN: I had heard that I had a chance to get picked up out of high school, and once I committed to Michigan I told everyone that’s what I wanted to do. It’s definitely something that I worked on everyday, because it was a dream for me to play in the majors. IF I had to stay at Michigan another year, there wouldn’t have been a problem either. It was a tough decision, leaving those guys, that was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. The Reds made an offer that I couldn’t really turn down. I’m happy with how things have turned out.
[Ed: remainder after the jump.]
TOM: There’s been some talk about internal griping, and the possibility that it had something to do with the pitching coach being fired recently. What is your take on that, and did you think there was a problem in the clubhouse?
RYAN: I think the pitching coach was released because there was a lot of talent in our pitchers, and it was a disappointing season. I don’t think there was really anything out of the ordinary with griping.
TOM: When did you really think, hey I’ve got a shot to make it to the big leagues? Was there one moment that it really clicked?
RYAN: Probably this past summer in Cape Cod. Everyone had been saying I could make it; my high school coach and coach Maloney had been planting that seed. When I was playing with all the guys from the bigger schools it just kind of hit me. I was playing center field, and hitting third in our lineup in the best summer league. That’s when it clicked that there was a legit possibility.
TOM: How much worry was there about your draft status after some (namely ESPN draft guru Keith Law) were questioning your season in the Cape, as well as the thumb injury?
RYAN: To be honest, we had a good feeling going in, but it was definitely disappointing when I got hurt. From the draft standpoint, and for the team. We had a lot of promise, if I had stayed healthy, we might have been able to win some of those games to get in the tournament. I just trusted God and my abilities, and if I had to go back to Michigan for a fourth year, there are worse things that could happen. We weren’t worried as much once I found out I wasn’t injured for the full season. I got off to a brutal start in Cape, but I just kept working hard.
TOM: How many rumors did you and your family hear throughout the whole process?
RYAN: When I originally got hurt, I fell off a few peoples radar. I heard from a lot of scouts, they were curious when I would be back. We heard some things that maybe I would drop off a little. I knew if I could make a good impression, that when I came back I could get my name back in the mix. I heard anywhere from the 20th pick all the way to the 4th round for the draft, too. Come draft day, we had it narrowed down to a few teams that we thought would pick me. I actually didn’t even talk to the reds until Tuesday, and they said if I dropped to them at 62 I’d be off the board. It could be a blessing in disguise, too, that I didn’t go in the first round.
TOM: Is that something that will motivate you into your career? That you weren’t taken in the first round?
RYAN: That motivates me to work harder, yeah. There are definitely teams that I would like to show them that they should have taken me. Every day that I’m blessed enough to put on a uniform, I’m going to work hard to prove to everyone they should have taken me. I’m not holding a grudge or anything, but it definitely gives you a reason to get up at five in the morning every day.
TOM: Leading up to the draft, what kind of questions did the MLB scouts and general managers ask you?
RYAN: They asked if I thought I was ready for MLB, and what I saw myself as in the future. They wanted to know if I could get out and play this summer, and if I was ready to keep working and keep going. They were making sure I was still motivated, and I wasn’t going to let this thumb injury get me down. Sometimes when guys get drafted they think that’s it, and they made it. It was just general make up questions to see where my head was at.
TOM: How has the first few days/weekends with the Dayton Dragons been different than playing at UM?
RYAN: To be honest, I was shocked. Everything is way more relaxed here. There’s not as much cheering from the dugout, and you’re basically on your own. You have to report to the bus whenever it leaves, we occasionally go with the team to lift, but it’s your job to get in extra hitting or work out. It’s not like coach Maloney’s going to come and tell you what to do. There’s no curfew at night, it’s your responsibility to get eat right, and make sure you’re dressed properly. There’s not many signs they give during the game either, they just let you play. Summer ball let’s you prepare for that, and that helped me a lot. I’ve had a great time so far.
If you want to create an intro for this, I would appreciate it. If you could include this, though. "This interview was a collaboration with FormerlyAnonymous. He supplied a good amount of information, and questions, since this is his expertise."
TOM: How has your transition to a wood bat been treating you?
RYAN: It is a transition; you really have to concentrate on hitting the sweet spot. I took about two and a half weeks off, and then we faced one of the brewers first round picks. He was throwing around 92-94, and I hit 4 ground balls. Since then, I’ve had some solid contact with the ball. I haven’t gotten rewarded yet, but it’s definitely a transition. It’s heavier, and you have to focus a lot more, so that’s been a challenge.
TOM: What’s your take on wood bats in the NCAA?
RYAN: I talked with someone about this last summer, and the expenses are the biggest part. The smaller schools wouldn’t be able to afford that, the good wood bats can be up to $120. The college guys would be breaking a lot of bats, because not everyone is as good as big league players in college. The metal bats give baseball a special touch. You’re surfing through the channels and you hear that ping, its just unique. College should stick with it. Look at the Northwestern game, like I mentioned, we came back from 13 runs, so you’re never out of the game.
TOM: Was there any thing special knowing that you set a Dayton record by stealing 3 bases in a game in your first week on the job?
RYAN: I just found that out a couple days ago. My first game I got on base three times, and I think I tied the record for steals. It was one of those things that I never expected; it was cool. I just want to show the managers and coaches I’ll be able to run, and that’s a part of my game, too.
TOM: What are your plans, as far as finishing your degree?
RYAN: I’m going to take classes this fall, hopefully. I think I might have to go to the instructional league, though. Definitely in the next two years I’ll be finishing up.