Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ron Villone--Slowing Things Down

His first day as a Washington National was memorable. And over the course of last season he became a steadying influence inside the clubhouse of Our Washington Nationals. Now after 15 years in the Big Leagues, Ron Villone is back again as a non-roster invitee to spring training. The African Queen and I chatted with the lefty after practice yesterday in Viera, Florida. As always, Ron Villone is serious and fun at the same time.

Everybody we’ve talk to with The Nationals says you have a great attitude and carry that character worth having in the clubhouse. (Nats320)

“That’s nice to hear. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. But I love the game. I love being around it. I love playing it. I love the guys. It’s like having a second family because we work together so much. Being out there on the field, wearing a big league uniform--what better thing can you be doing?”

Yet, many say they respect what you have to say within the team. (Nats320)

“I think that’s also because I am the oldest guy here. That has something to do with it? (laughing) But experience has been my best teacher. Why not share it some times. I am out here having so much fun. I am having fun, getting my work done. I’m focused but you’ve got to make it interesting some times. These days (of spring training) get repetitive.”

But you are a role model as well? (Nats320)

“Whatever it is, it is. I accept the role I am in, whether that be teammate, friend, mentor--you name it. There are a bunch a things. I do have fun with it all. I can’t ask for anything else. If someone is talking well about me--I’m glad.”

You are 40 years old, how long can you stay in the game? (Nats320)

“Part of it is, physically, my arm feels great. That is first and foremost. If you have your health, you can play the game. I think I still have something to offer. I can still compete on a high level and get hitters out and help the team. Obviously, being in many situations in the past, I know this is another spring training for me. Another grind and competition to get a job again. It makes you hungry.”

You were really strong off the top after joining The Nationals. Toward the end your outings were rougher. Any explanation for that? (Nats320)

“I believe that numbers don’t always tell, OK? The numbers are deceiving. What I know, the best thing I can say about me or anybody else is being ready to pitch every single day for your manager, for your coaches and for your teammates. I know, last year, I was available every single day. The results weren’t there and I am only going to judge my work by what the team record was and how we did. It wasn’t acceptable. And that’s also why you get hungry and you come back to spring training and start over.”

What is it like working to make the team--with all these young guys around? (Nats320)

It is fun with all these young guys around. It’s a part of it all. Everybody here wants a job. But there is a lot of eagerness, the unknowing. It’s actually fun to watch (laughing). You know, sometimes when they are walking around with their heads cut off--it’s fun.”

Because you have been through it? (Nat320)

“Absolutely. And sometimes you see it in a guy’s face while we are doing a drill on the field. It’s easy to say just pay attention, but it’s part of the fun of spring training, looking at the young guys. They are going so hard some times, a million miles per hour--while I am slowing everything down. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum, but’s it’s a lot of fun to watch.”

It’s so much fun hearing you say that because Drew Storen yesterday told us how it’s still a thrill for him to put on the Curly “W” practice jersey every morning. (Nats320)

(Laughing). It’s is. It really is, but so is all the stuff that comes in between. The little stuff, walking from here (the practice fields) back to the clubhouse. Walking from the clubhouse to here and sometimes you can listen to what’s on the guys minds. ‘What are we doing today? What about this drill or that drill?’ Does it really matter, I think. (chuckling) You are going out there, you are doing a drill, right? You can’t be worried about a drill? Right? But it’s all in good taste. And it’s all in good fun.”

You and Eddie Guardado seem to have same demeanor.(Nats320)

“Hey, we are lefties, what can I say!! (laughing hard) We played together years ago and as lefties, we see things differently. We just do.”

Was it difficult waiting for Mike Rizzo to give you a call for an invitation to make the team? (Nats320)

“No. We kept dialogue the whole off-season. I think that is important. Being a free agent, it is a part of the process. It really is. There are so many fine things that go on in-between. And each team has a different philosophy each year. The Nationals were thinking about me, just as much as I was thinking about them. And we came to a settlement. I am MORE than happy to be here.”

Ultimately, after all is said and down, would you like to retire in Washington? (Nats320)

“I don’t know. My health is first. I want to play this year. Let’s see what happens afterward. I loved D.C.. I loved playing in D.C. last year. And as much as you are not enjoying your personal record and your team’s record on the field, as a city itself, it was great. I had never really seen it before and it turned out to be an awesome place to live.”

Is coaching in your future, once you retire? (Nat320)

“You never know. I not shutting anything out. I am still playing right now, so I am still concentrating on that."


Ben Schwartz said...

Hey I noticed the quality of your photos has decreased a lot from last year, did you get a new camera?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Ben Schwartz: No, we decided to put up lower quality jpegs to take further steps to protect our copyrighted work.

Ben Schwartz said...

Oh I really liked'em