Today is Scott Mathieson and Matt Stairs birthday, two former Phillies born in Canada. Mathieson, now 28 years old, was a right-handed pitcher for the Phils in parts of 3 seasons spanning from 2006-2011. In 15 games, he pitched 44 IP with a 6.75 ERA and 1 career win. He's now moved on to Japan to play for the Yomiuri Giants. He was kind enough to answer some questions for We Should Be GMs over the weekend. Here's the interview...
1. Did you watch "Mr. Baseball" in preparation for baseball culture in Japan?
Yes, I watched it a few times before coming over here. The movie is pretty close to what it's like here. Just 20 years old.
2. Baseball games in Japan end after 12 innings, what is you opinion on this?
I haven't experienced that yet, seems weird. I hate how hockey games in the NHL end in ties, so I'm sure I will not like it.
3. So, your team doesn't have a DH, are you hoping to get some hacks in?
I love hitting and was always very excited when I got to hit back at home. I'm hoping to be the closer over here, so I don't think I'll get many chances.
4. Are you excited to see a sumo match?
Yes, very much so. I got to meet the world champion sumo wrestler about a week ago. He came and hung out with us one practice and tried throwing a bullpen and took some swings in the cage. It was pretty neat seeing how fast and flexible he was for being such a big guy. I always just thought they were just big fat guys that pushed each other around, but this guys was an athlete. He was able to hit off a live bp pitcher and wasn't that bad. Plus he could throw and catch the ball. He also went through our warmup with us, which takes over an hour to go through.
5. How are your chopstick skills coming along?
My chopstick skills get the job done. The food here is so good that if you can't use them you learn fast.
6. Charlie Manuel was a Japanese League great, did he talk about the good ol' days?
He never talked to me personally about Japan but he would tell the team stories in spring training and always spoke very highly of his time in Japan.
7. You're in a new land and playing a different style of baseball, are there any American and/or Japanese players helping you with the transition?
There are a few Japanese guys on the team that have spent some time in the states and speak a little English that have been helping us out. DJ Houlton is one of my teammates here and has spent 4 seasons in Japan now I believe, he has been a big help. Everyone here has been awesome, though all the Japanese guys are great and make sure we are in the right place at the right time and try their best to help out.
8. Describe your role on the Giants.
Well, I'm hoping to be at the back end of the bullpen for them this year.
9. Best memory of time with the Phillies...
This is a real hard one. I have many great memories over the last ten seasons with the Phillies. Getting to call my dad after my first big league call up has to be the best memory, followed by my first game. I also will never forget walking into the GCL clubhouse for the first time in 2002. I got caught swimming in a golf course lake in Clearwater in 2002 by our field coordinator and 3 coaches. Cole Hamels was one of my roommates then and he borrowed clubs from older players and one slipped out of his hand and went into the lake. So he offered to pay my share of the gas money for the rest of camp if I went in and got it. I didn't get in trouble, but I did get the nick name "Canadian Goose" after that, which then got shortened to "Goose". Even last year, 10 seasons later there were a few coaches that still called me Goose. Living with my host family in Lakewood was a lot of fun. I could go on forever about great times I had with the Phillies.
10. How was it growing up in Canada?
Canada is a great country. I grew up in Aldergrove BC, which is about 45 minutes from Vancouver, which is above Seattle. Aldergrove is a smaller town where you pretty much know everyone and no one locks their doors. I believe growing up in a small community like this really helped me become who I am today. I played hockey and baseball and every other sport I had time for, as well as being an avid skier. I gave up hockey for baseball when I was 15. We didn't have high school baseball. We did have the BCPLB, which is the best baseball league in Canada and many kids from the rest of Canada come to play in this league. I played for the Langley Blaze, which is by far the best team in the league and in Canada. They have had more kids get drafted than any other team has ever had in Canada (www.Langleyblaze.com). From there I played for team Canada and then was drafted in the 17th round by the Phillies.
11. Have you been to a McDonald's there yet, if so, is there McSushi?
No, I haven't been to McDonald's here yet, but I was just given a 1000 yen gift card to there (1000 yen = $12 us). I'm not the biggest McDonald's fan though. I have had some awesome sushi here though. John Bowker and I tried blowfish the other day at a sushi restaurant, which was very scary since if prepared wrong can kill you. The beef over here is also better then any steak I've ever had at home and I've had some very high end steaks.
12. Is your plan to eventually come back to the States and play in MLB?
My plan as of right now is to try and stay here long term. So far I love it over here. The team I'm with is the biggest team over here and they treat the players great and go about the game the right way. Lots of hard work, I've fielded well over a 1000 ground balls already and we are just about half way through spring training.
I would like to play in the states again, but not in the near future; my goal is to stay here for awhile. Hopefully I can learn a few things while I'm here and if I come back to the states I hope the Phillies would give me a look. I would love to play for them again. I really have nothing bad to say about them. I loved my time with the Phillies. I was a little frustrated that I didn't get more of a chance to pitch at the big league level with them, but I do realize it's tough to give guys many opportunities when you're a WS contending team and every game is a must win.