IP: Tell us about your background, where’d you go to school?
AP: I went to Deer Park High School, in Deer Park, Texas and then I attended one year of Junior College at San Jacinto in Houston. I actually signed with the University of Texas but I wasn’t crazy about the idea of going to college.
IP: Was there a definable moment when you were playing baseball in Little League or maybe High School that you thought, “Hey, I’m pretty good?”
AP: I was always one of the best pitchers on our team. We had some really good athletes at Deer Park, but during my junior and senior year I started separating myself a little bit from the other players. At that time, I started thinking that I was pretty good and when colleges like the University of Texas and LSU offered me scholarships,it sort of reaffirmed those thoughts.
IP: How many seasons did you play in the minors?
AP: I ended up playing three full seasons and then another half of a season. From San Jacinto I went to the Gulf Coast League, spent a year in Low A, a year in High A and then I split my last year between Double A and Triple A. I guess I was pretty consistent; I was fortunate. I never had a losing season in the minor leagues so I did really well all the way up.
IP: Were there any coaches or managers that come to mind that really helped you along the way?
AP: Wayne Graham was really influential in my career; he’s coaching at Rice University now but he was my coach at San Jacinto when I was there. He’s a real ‘go-getter’ and had a huge impact on me in terms of baseball and the fundamentals and the mentality of the game. He kind of kick-started me, and then I had several coaches along the way including Nardi Contreras who taught me an awful lot about pitching and how to set up hitters. And there were quite a few minor league pitching coaches who worked with me that were superb; I learned a lot from those guys as I was coming up. Joe Torre was really like a father figure to me in my career and he was a great manager, I really can’t say enough about Joe.
IP: Who are some of the best all-around players you’ve competed against?
Derek Jeter is one of the greatest players that I’ve ever played with. He’s an outstanding hitter and amazing defensively; really just an all-around athlete. Paul O’Neill was another; he had such an impressive career and was truly a gifted player. Alfonso Soriano has incredible power as well as speed and Carlos Beltrán was another great one. The list is too long to name everyone, but I’ve been blessed to play with and compete against some incredible athletes.
IP: Tell us about some of the toughest hitters you’ve had to face; a few guys that always seemed to own you?Read the rest