In another episode of “Talking with the stars” brought to you by sportswinmore's journalist Mike Rodriguez. Mike talks to Closer Pedro Strop from the Cincinnati Reds. He talks about his transition from SS to Pitcher and how he finally got his chance in the big league. Pedro recalls winning the World Baseball Classic and winning the 2016 World Series.
For the people that do not know you, Pedro, how did you grow up at home where your parents always helping or did you have to work when you were younger?
From what I can remember until I was 8, I lived in a normal household as a kid, taking care of by their parents with no worries. My father had a really good job he passed away when I was 8. He had a great job in the DR, and then he would go to NY to work and come back, but unfortunately, his lungs couldn’t hold up and passed away. Once he passed away things started to get difficult. My older brother Manuel “Tutta" and my sister went to the capital to study and work to help out my mom. During that transition, it was very hard for me and my family, but we pulled ahead from the grace of God. When I was 16, I signed with the Colorado Rockies, and then it feels like everything went back to normal.
When you first got signed by the Rockies, how much did you get as a signing bonus?
I got $49,500. It was a lot of money at the time I signed in 2012 I got half the money upfront and the rest at the end of the season. I would get paid $757 bi-weekly and with that, we met ends meet. I played in 2002, still in DR I signed as a shortstop with a lot of potential and all the scouts wanted me to fly to the U. S So in 2003 was my first stop in the states.
Tell me the reason they changed your position from SS to Closer?
I played in 2003, Casper Wyoming in a pioneer league, in 2014, I played in triple-city the Washington state league. In 2005, I became a pitcher in the D.R. so they moved me to AA where I stayed for two years to get my mechanics down. It was a big switch for me once you make it to the states it was hard for me to see off pitches and it was for me to see the rotation of the ball I had a great pop and a good swing, but in spring training all the coaches could see that the only ball I would be able to hit is fast. The transition was not hard as a little kid in DR when you would play with your friends you would try out every position so it was not so hard and I had the competitive spirit and that drive to be successful.
When you finally got the call to the majors, what were you doing how were your emotions, Pedro?
"My brother it was a moment unforgettable, it was something big, and on top of that we went to Iowa we were playing the cubs in AAA and it was raining. Two days we had a rain day and I had a knock on my door I look through the peephole and call my roommate “Peggy” to open the door we saw our manage, and we thought we were in trouble. I was only in AAA for two weeks, so I did not expect to get moved up. My manager asks me did I have a uniform in my bag and that's a tradition you always bring your big league uniform just in case you get called up. My manager says “ get your iron ready you're going to NY” And I said right away, "why New York" not remembering the team was going to the play the Yankees. I started calling my mom crying from emotions sad because all I could think of is my dad saying to the locals in the neighborhood that my kid is going to make it my son is a baseball player.
When you got traded to the Chicago Cubs, how was the transition?
I was not pitching in Baltimore I was not getting the chance. After the 7-8- inning we were losing and it was not until the baseball classic where the cubs noticed me. I remember the pitching coach would show me videos of the classic and the difference in between pitches. The whole clubhouse accepted me I saw Rondon & Villanueva greeted me, Starlin Castro and Castillo we all had a vision and that was to win.
Talk about winning the World Series classic how did it feel?
Everything we talked about we lived. It does compare to anything all the positive energy in the clubhouse and the veterans in their all treated each other like family. I think that was the most special part is the chemistry and the trust in God. It was a union we all came together for everything and for the people who just came up from the minors they were treated like family. Every year we as Dominicans have a chance to win but that was very special, not losing a game and winning 8-0.
How was it to win a World Series in 2016 with the Chicago Cubs?
Brother let me repeat myself self let me thank god and my family to be a part of a world baseball classic and then a few years later winning the world series with the Chicago Cubs. Knowing that was the longest drought for any MLB team. Coming into the league it was all about staying in the league not getting sent back-down and to just win one, a lot of ballplayers never even have the chance to play in one, so it was very special.
Why did you not signed back with Chicago?
It was all about finances the team, in reality, cut the payroll they wanted to drop it. Cincinnati made me a better offer, so I had to take it. I wanted to stay in Chicago I had my house my family enjoyed it but I had to take the best offer that was on the table. I felt like the organization didn't want me as bad, they saw me pitch injured, and they still did not offer a better deal than Cincinnati. I sat down with Theo, and he ultimately said they could not match it. I understood at the time it is a business at the end of the day we have to do what's best for each other. I have beautiful memories in Chicago I will always be remembered there I gave it my all, so I know it is all love for that city.
Check out the interview down below
Sports Journalist for SPORTSWINMORE