Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Q&A with minor league pitcher Brian Schlitter

So who remembers good ole Scott Erye?

The big (and I don't mean that in a healthy way) lefty was traded from the Cubs to the Phillies last season where he went on to help the Phillies win some kind of thing that I really don't feel like talking about.

But who remembers which player the Cubs got in return for him? Give up?

That's right, it's right-handed pitcher Brian Schlitter.

I'll never forget that trade because I went to high school with Schlitter and we played football together. It makes you feel quite old and worthless when a person from your high school becomes a member of the Chicago Cubs. Le sigh.

While Brian was catching touchdowns and dreaming of a life as a professional athlete back in high school, i was sitting on the pine dreaming of interviewing athletes for a blog someday.

So I guess we're even when it comes to achieving our dreams. Suck on that Maine South High School Class of 2004.

Anyway, I saw Brian back home over winter break and he decided to answer a few questions about being in the Cubs organization and what it's like to be a minor league pitcher. Enjoy.

Goat Riders: Let's start off by letting the good people know a little bit about yourself.

Brian Schlitter: I was born in Oak Park, Ill., and lived in the city of Chicago.  I lived there my whole life up until the summer before high school, where my family and I moved to Park Ridge, Ill.  I attended Maine South High School and played football, basketball and baseball all four years, but I always knew I would go on to play baseball after high school.  I only got one offer to play baseball after high school and it was to Lake City Community College in Lake City, Fla.  I pitched as a starting pitcher there for two years and was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 34th round after my first year in school.  I didn't sign with them and went back to school.  At Lake City, I had offers to go to the University of  Louisiana at Lafayette and the College of Charleston in South Carolina for my junior year.  I decided to go to the College of Charleston and pitched there as a reliever.  After one year there I was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 16th round and signed with them.  I played one game in short season A ball and was moved up to Low A.  I finished out the season in Low A in Lakewood, NJ.  The next season I started in High A in Clearwater, Fla., and played all of the season expect in August when I was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Scott Eyre.  The Cubs sent me to the Daytona Cubs which is their High A team, and we ended up winning the Florida State League.

GR: So how about we get the obvious question out of the way, has Ted Lilly threatened to murder you yet? Just kidding. Why don't you tell us what it's like to be in the Chicago Cubs organization.

BS: Playing for the Chicago Cubs is already a dream, and I haven't even made it to Wrigley Field yet.  I grew up a huge Cubs fan and went to as many games as I could growing up. So far I couldn't think of any other team I would want to play for.

GR: Besides the near orgasmic joy that most of us will only live out in our fantasies, what did it feel when you found out you were traded to the Cubs?

BS: The day that I was traded, we were in the clubhouse packing our bags to go on a road game, when my manager came in and called me into his office.  My first reaction was "what did I do wrong now?"  everyone in the room was just looking at me walk into his office because normally when the manager calls someone into his office it's either they are getting released or moved up to double A.  So when I came out my teammates were all asking if I got moved up, and I said no I got traded to the Cubs.  No one believed me at first but they soon realized that I wasn't joking.  My first reaction was shock because I never would've thought  that this kind of thing would happen.  After I got over that I couldn't stop smiling, I called my family and all my friends to tell them the news.  I got back to my apartment and was on the phone with all sorts of people for the next three hours until I was finally able to relax and think about what just happened.  The next day I drove three hours north from Clearwater to Daytona.

GR: Tell us about the experience of being a minor league baseball player. You must have some interesting stories from down on the farm.

BS: Being in the minors definitely has its ups and downs.  Playing baseball everyday is great, but the road trips and spending half the season in a hotel can wear on you.  But if you love playing the game then you get used to the daily grind of things.  You never really run out of things to talk about being around 2 dozen guys from all over the country and even out of the country.  You're always learning new things.

GR: Do you have a nickname? If not, can we forever refer to you as S-Bomb on this Web site?

BS: I don't really have a nickname.  My first pitching coach would call me Big Donkey.  My coach in Clearwater would either just say "bring in the big guy" or just call me Schlit or Schlitz like everyone else.

GR: Who is your favorite pitcher past or present? Why?

BS: I would probably say Greg Maddux was my favorite pitcher growing up, because he doesn't throw the hardest but he goes out there and competes and gets guys out.

GR: Chicago can really suck in the winter. How have you been dealing with the suckitude?

BS: The winter/offseason is at first relaxing. Usually guys wont do very much of anything for at least the first 2 weeks, maybe even a month.  But you get pretty bored and eventually start running and working out in the gym.  Pitchers will start throwing around new years and build their arm strength back up so that they come to spring training at about 90-100 percent.

GR: Do you see yourself as more of a relief pitcher or a starter in the future?

BS: I like coming out of the bullpen because you never know when you're going in and you come into high pressure situations.  Being in the bullpen is also fun, because you get a different look at the game and all the people in the stands.  Plus bullpen talk is always a good laugh.  We talk about anything that comes to us….from the game to what we are eating after to what girls are in the stands haha.

GR: Why do you think the Cubs wanted you in the trade for Scott Eyre?

BS: I couldn't tell you why the Cubs traded me for Scott Eyre. The way I looked at it was that they had known me coming from Chicago and I was having a good year, and thought that I would fit in well with the Cub organization.

GR: On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 being the most) how much has your baseball experience been like all the baseball movies you've seen? Do local hussies try to seduce because they want to make you a better baseball player?

BS: I would say that my baseball experience compared to the movies is around 5.  The lower levels would compare more to Bull Durham because the fields were never good, the bus trips were long and boring, and the hotels were usually on the cheaper end.  Then there is the big leagues, which I hope to find out what it is actually like but, I would probably compare it to For Love of the Game.  Those two movies I would say are my two favorite baseball movies because they capture true baseball life on both sides of the spectrum.

GR: What's your team like? Is there a lot of turnover? Do you guys have time to gel as a team?

BS: Spring training is the best time to get to know guys that you don't already know.  I think guys get along easier, especially in baseball, because we are there to make a team and are professional about it.  Sure there is always going be some issues here and there, but it usually doesn't last any longer than that day.  You usually get along with your roommate during spring training the best because you spend more time with him back at the hotel after practices.  You meet managers and other coaches through out spring training and get to know them and their personality and also their coaching styles.  Some are more loose and relaxed and some are more "old school".  Once you leave spring training and know what team you made you plan on you and a few guys getting an apartment or townhouse.  Its pretty much a rush to find a place from the second you get there.

That's about all I got. Hopefully we'll hear from Brian in the future and maybe I can get him to write some posts for us on his minor league experience this year.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award