By Jennifer DiMeo
Last week, between watching film and preparing for a night game against the Royals, Kyle Seager sat down for an interview. The previous night's game ended in the 12th, but only after the Mariners and Seager thought they had the game won in the 10th after tagging up from third on a sacrifice fly. The umpire saw it differently, and video review confirmed the tag got Seager in time, sending the game to the 11th.
The late night game and early film session highlight the dedication Seager has put into the 2013 season, one in which he only missed two games of the 162 the Mariners played. For the second year in a row, Seager was named the Player of the Year by the Mariners organization.
Jennifer DiMeo: The game was crazy last night, with your slide into home plate. How do you adjust to come back today?
Kyle Seager: It's what you have to do in this game. You know, you play so many games in a row where you have to have a short memory whether you are doing really well or doing not as well. You have to be able to stay even keel.
JD: So, that's how you're able to do things like your 106-game streak of starts at third base?
KS: I think that is everyone's goal. When you are in the minor leagues and even when you break in, everyone wants to be an everyday player. You want to be the guy that is in there every single day for your team and that the coaches have confidence to put you in there. It is something that I am proud of.
JD: People view professional athletes as having a glamorous job. What is a typical day really like for you?
KS: I usually get to the ballpark around 1:30 or so. Sometimes, I will eat lunch here. Chef Jeremy here does a great job to have sandwiches and all sorts of stuff ready for you. I eat a sandwich then I will go watch some film on the previous game. Today, I watched my at-bats from yesterday. And then, I will watch the starting pitcher that I am facing that night. And then go in the cage and hit. Go out (to the field) for stretch, BP, come back in and take a shower and get ready for the game.
JD: Making it to the major leagues is not an easy task. What is the biggest hurdle you faced to get to where you are today?
KS: It is definitely hard. Especially when you get to pro ball it is a grind. It's a grind where you are playing everyday. You are not always in the most glamorous spots in the world. You are traveling around, long bus rides. It something where you have to stay mentally tough and realize the end goal is here. You have to continue to work for it.
JD: Who inspires you day to day to keep on going?
KS: This is my dream. This is what I have always wanted to do. So the motivation is with that. I am doing what a lot of people dream of doing. The same thing I dreamed of doing when I was growing up. This is the best job in the world so it is pretty easy to get motivated for it.
JD: You and Dustin Ackley grew up playing together on numerous teams. You both are now playing for the Mariners and getting to play with each other day to day. What's that like?
KS: It has been wild. It's something where we started playing against each other when we were ten or eleven years old. We played together on a travel team when we were juniors and seniors in high school. I thought that was pretty cool having played against him forever.
Going to college together was amazing. We roomed together our freshman year and then getting drafted by the same team. Debuting in Anaheim and looking across the infield and he is standing there too, it was pretty cool.
JD: Your two brothers are also playing pro ball. What's that like?
KS: It is great. They are playing in similar places that I did. Justin, the middle brother, he is with the Mariners also, which is great. So, the different levels he is playing in or the different places he is going to be is the same places where I was. And that is a lot of fun.
And our younger brother, Corey, was in the Midwest and Cali leagues this year. Those are leagues that I also played in, so there is a lot of similarities and stuff.
JD: What is it like when you and your brothers get together in the offseason?
KS: It is going to be a lot of fun. We are on the same schedule now. We are all in pro ball and will have the same amount of time off so we will be getting right back to work.
JD: Your parents were very involved in your playing baseball as a kid. Tell me about that.
KS: My dad was always one of my coaches. He coached us right up until high school. So, he was always a big part. In the offseason he is throwing us BP and all that stuff. My mom was always there for us also. Driving us to practices and all that stuff. They were about as involved as they could be.
JD: Looking at the teams you played on at UNC, you went to the College World Series three years in a row. That seems like an amazing ride to be part of.
KS: Yes! My senior year of high school I had already committed to go to Carolina and I watched them play in Omaha. With all the excitement and all the games on TV, it is special. To go there all three years is something that you couldn't even asked for or hoped to do that. It is just amazing what the coaches have done. All the players I have played with are a great group of guys.
JD: In those trips to Omaha, you did not come home national champions. What was the most heartbreaking trip back to Chapel Hill and why?
KS: It was not an easy trip home. My freshman year we lost the championship game. That is tough to bounce back from. But I think, personally, my junior year coming back knowing I had gotten drafted and I was probably going to sign and those were probably my last games and not getting to play in that uniform anymore was pretty tough.
JD: There are currently many players in the pro system from your Carolina teams: Harvey, Bates, Holt, Warren, White, Ackley, Stallings, and more. What is it like going to all the different ballparks and getting to see your former teammates?
KS: It has been wild. I got to see Colin Bates a couple of weeks ago when we were playing in Baltimore and he was getting ready to drive to Myrtle Beach to play down there. That was great. While out at spring training, half the teams are in Arizona where we are so you run into a lot of guys out there. I have played against a number of guys this year that I either played with or even roomed with a couple of them. It is pretty exciting to see how many guys have not only reached pro ball, but reached the big leagues and you are playing against a lot of them.
JD: If you could give a current player who is going through the system with Coach Fox some advice, what would it be?
KS: I would say a few things. First off, to enjoy it. It is a great time in your life and something that I look back with nothing but the best memories. And the coaches do such a great job of preparing you for not only baseball but for life. Just to soak it up and enjoy it as much as you can.
JD: What in particular from your time at UNC prepared you for the jump to major league baseball?
KS: Coach Fox does such a great job. Not only is he organized and a great coach, but he does such a great job of helping you mature as a person. He always takes care of you and he honestly has your best interest at heart. He did a great job for all of us while we were there to prepare us for wherever you go through in life, whether you continue on in baseball or continue on in getting another kind of job.
JD: What is your favorite memory from your days in Chapel Hill?
KS: (Chuckling) There are a lot of them, lots of stuff from the baseball field. Going to basketball games was a blast, going to all the football games, going to all the sporting events. The basketball team winning the national championship while I was there was a lot of fun. There are so many it is hard to pick just one.
JD: What do you miss most about Chapel Hill?
KS: All the people. The people. My wife and I are up here in Seattle now, so we are about as far away as you could possibly be. Just all the relationships that you have while you are there. Seeing everybody and the constant communication we had.
JD: Seattle and Chapel Hill are worlds apart. You grew up in North Carolina and went to UNC. What similarity is there for playing with the Mariners and with the Tar Heels?
KS: Seattle is obviously a much bigger city than Chapel Hill, but it has a similar feel. It is not a bunch of skyscrapers and everything. It's a lot of trees and feels smaller than it is so that is a little similarity geographically, but just the people in general. The Mariners organization is a very tightknit group, the same as Chapel Hill was.
JD: Offseason, what's your plan? Are you heading back to North Carolina?
KS: Yes, this offseason my wife and I are having our first child. So that is going to take up a lot of time. That is pretty much going to take up the offseason, I think. It's going to be a blast. We have to get home and start setting up the nursery and getting everything ready. We have our work cut out for us.