Last month I got to sit down with Frisco RoughRiders pitcher Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez and ask him some questions about Double-A, sushi, and the beach.
Note: Since this interview, Frisco has indeed visited Tulsa.
What's it like being back in the general area that you went to college in?
It's nice, y'know, Midwest, I lived here for three years and liked it. I mean, it's just like Florida-it's hot, and rainy-the only difference is there's no beach, and you know, it's humid.
Have any of your college friends been able to come down and see you pitch?
I had two college teammates, they came and saw me play here. They saw me pitch three or four innings, and I hung out with them afterwards. It was pretty neat getting to see them back here cheering me on.
We're going to Tulsa next month, in August, early August, and I'm sure a lot of my teammates will be there, I have a lot of Oklahoma teammates, they'll all get to the game. I know my parents are going to be there, just because they love that Tulsa area. My coaches from Oral Roberts will be there, they've already asked me when I'll be playing there and all that, so I'm sure that will be a fun experience.
What's the biggest difference between high-A and double-A?
In a sense they could be the same, if you get ahead of hitters. Once you fall behind, hitters are a lot more patient, waiting for the fastball, waiting for their pitch. That's the thing, I think the biggest difference is they all can hit a fastball, they're not going to be late. And if they're late [on that pitch], the next fastball they see they're not going to be late. They make adjustments a lot quicker too. But you know, just getting ahead of hitters, and playing your odds out of them hitting the ball at somebody.
What's your favorite park in the Texas League?
I've been to San Antonio, Corpus, Midland, here [Frisco], and both Arkansas, so I think just Drillers [Tulsa] is the last one I haven't been to. I mean, I guess home is the best field, That's where I want to be. Frisco is the best field, but second to it I would probably say is Corpus. I like that area. The hotel is right off the water, you walk across the street and you're on the Gulf of Mexico. I feel like it's the second best place because it's similar to Florida.
What made you choose Oral Roberts University, up in Oklahoma, a fair way from Florida?
Yeah, it's a huge distance, and I mean, winter too, you don't ever get a winter in Florida. I went to Oral Roberts because my head coach at the time, my junior year of high school volunteer coached there with James Vilade [Frisco first base coach]. So he told me to look into the school, research the coaches and everything, and I did, and they gave me the opportunity to go out there and play. So my junior year they gave me a scholarship and I committed there, and I didn't want to decommit. I wanted to commit early and get that out of the way. My senior year is when all the Florida schools were recruiting me, and I didn't want to decommit from my word, so I stayed up and went to Oral Roberts. I mean, the baseball was great, my coaches and teammates were awesome, and I got the college experience. School was the biggest factor too, because my parents wanted me to go to school, and the school that I chose they were really happy with.
Going back to Myrtle Beach-there were some rumors you were a bit of a prankster..
Myrtle Beach was fun. On the coast, beach minutes away-I got to fish a lot, and that's what I love doing. That was what kept my mind occupied and off of baseball, because I'm here [at the park] so much, so that was nice.
Fishing? What kind of fishing do you do? (Note: I'm not very up on my fishing terminology.)
Wherever there's water, I fish. Florida, I was mostly ocean, on a boat or right off the beach, but I can fish in a lake, in a pond. As long as my lines are wet, it's awesome.
So pretty much baseball and fishing...
Yeah, that's what my life consists of. Baseball, fishing, and hanging out at the beach, I guess. I go to the beach a lot in the offseason, because it's right there.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're at home in Florida?
Other than going to the beach? I don't know, probably eating sushi. I love sushi, I'm a sushi fan. In Florida, we're right off the coast of anywhere, so you can have the freshest fish you can get. So other than spending time with family, baseball, working out, and fishing, I'm eating sushi.
Anything else the good people of Dallas, Texas should know about Chi Chi Gonzalez?
My nickname. Just call me Chi Chi if you see me around, you don't have to call me Alex. I mean, I respond to Alex or Chi Chi.
Where'd the nickname come from?
My grandpa's brother gave us [Gonzalez and his two sisters] all our nicknames. We don't ever go by our first names. It was only in school that we'd go by our first names, but our parents always call us by our nicknames or "Hey you." So yeah, Chi Chi stuck, and that's what I've been called!