Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett, from Evansville, Indiana, was a rookie in the 2014 season who made the Nationals major league team out of spring training. A 27-year old from Evansville, Indiana, Aaron was drafted by the Dodgers in 2006, the Twins in 2008, and the Rangers in 2009 before signing with the Nationals in 2010 out of Ole Miss. A right-handed late reliever, he got the Opening Day win for the Nats and made his postseason debut at the end of the season. His nickname is “The Bear.” In his rookie year, he posted a 3-0 record with 49 Ks and a 2.66 ERA.
Aaron Barrett was at NatsFest, and I got the chance to catch up with him. Here is my Matt’s Bats Chat with Aaron Barrett.
Matt’s Bats: What are you going to do this offseason?
Aaron Barrett: I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve been traveling a little bit. My wife and I lived in Florida and just moved back to Atlanta and we’re in the process of getting a house in Atlanta. We went to an Ole Miss football game where they lost to Auburn, unfortunately, but we had a good time at Ole Miss. I’ve been training and hanging out and getting ready.
MB: The playoffs ended in a disappointing manner for the Nationals and you probably weren’t happy with your Game 5 performance. How do you think you’re going to bounce back and what are your expectations for the year?
AB: The season didn’t end the way we wanted it to. But, I’ve been put in that situation all year long. I was put in the game with the game on the line and sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail. That’s the good thing about being a professional baseball player – you know you’re striving to be perfect, but you’re not going to be perfect every time. That outing and that experience I gained in the playoffs is only going to make me a better player and prepare me for the future. Hopefully this season I’ll get another shot at it and this time I’ll succeed. I’m ready to go!
MB: Why did you decide to choose #30 as your jersey number?
AB: I grew up being #30, not by choice, I just wore it. Ever since high school and college baseball it’s a number that stuck. I was fortunate when I got put on the roster, that was one of the numbers available. So I chose #30 and I like it!
MB: What’s it like watching a game from the bullpen with guys like Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen? It seems like a lot of fun.
AB – It’s a lot of fun. The first four innings you’re just watching the game. They are good guys and I’ve learned a lot from them. I learn from their experience because they have been pitching for a long time in the big leagues. Being around them and hearing what they have to say is a cool experience for me.
MB: Speaking of the bullpen, how do you feel about the new bullpen seating at Nats Park? [Earlier this year, the Nationals built bleachers for the relief pitchers in the bullpen. Before that they sat on folding chairs]
AB: I love it! It allows us to actually see the game! Instead of having to look through the wire fence, we’re elevated and we have a beautiful clear view.
MB: Who was your favorite player growing up?
AB: Albert Pujols. I grew up a Cardinals fan and he was my idol. I didn’t turn out to be a hitter like he is but I grew up wanting to be like him.
MB: What’s your favorite ballpark to play in?
AB: Obviously Nats Park is number 1. I love the feel of the stadium and the fans are great. I really enjoyed Pittsburgh – the skyline makes it a beautiful stadium. [Check out my post about my trip to the radio broadcast booth at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park and the post I wrote comparing PNC Park to Nats Park]
In conclusion, I want to wish Aaron Barrett a happy 27th birthday. He just turned 27 on January 2. I also want to thank him for doing the interview with me and taking time out of his busy NatsFest schedule. I hope he has a great rest of his offseason. I look forward to seeing updates from Viera when pitchers and catchers report on February 19. I’m also looking forward to Opening Day and seeing his sophomore season in DC.