On May 10, Andrew Carraway arrived in Tacoma from Jackson, Tenn., where he had been pitching for the Double A Generals. The following night, he made his Triple A debut with the Rainiers, pitching a perfect game into the seventh inning before giving up his only hit. He was relieved with one out in the top of the eighth, getting the 4-0 win against Albuquerque, which stopped the Rainiers’ seven-game losing streak. Carraway sat down with Tacoma Weekly baseball writer Karen Westeen following that victory to talk about it, and about his past, present and future life in baseball.
TW: Did you have a chance to get a feel for Cheney Stadium before you pitched here for the first time?
AC: Yes, I saw the game on Thursday, so I was a little acclimated to what the hitters were doing. And seeing the number 425 (feet) in center field gives you a little more comfort.
TW: What about Guillermo Quiroz, who caught and called the game that night? Had you two worked together previously?
AC: No. I met him the day of the game.
TW: Did you work well together?
AC: Yes. I may have shaken off his calls once or twice, but I put complete trust in him. He called a great game.
TW: When did you realize that you were throwing a perfect game?
AC: Well, it hit me in the middle of the game that there hadn’t been a base runner yet, but I tried to stay focused on the game, and of course it was pretty quiet when I got back to the dugout.
TW: Was this the longest you’d gone professionally without giving up a hit?
AC: Yes, although I did throw a no-hitter when I was on the JV team in high school.
TW: It must have made it even more stressful that the Rainiers were leading by only one run most of the game, until a couple of errors by the other team brought in three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. And you had some great defense too.
AC: It’s always comforting to get the extra runs even though they were not in the traditional way. At least one swing of the bat couldn’t tie the game. And the catch that (RF) Chih-Hsien Chiang made in the seventh – when he ran into the wall – completely changed everything and kept us in it.
TW: So now let’s talk a little about your beginnings in professional baseball. You went to the University of Virginia. What was your major?
TW: After you graduated in 2009, the Mariners picked you in the 12th round. Were you expecting Seattle to draft you?
AC: No I wasn’t.
TW: Where were you when you found out?
AC: We were in the College World Series playoffs. I came in after practice and saw on my computer that I had been picked.
TW: How did your team do in Omaha in the College World Series?
AC: We won one game and lost two, so we didn’t advance to the championship round. It was the first time the school had ever qualified.
TW: What was it like playing in the tournament?
AC: It was unbelievable. As a college baseball player that’s the closest you come to being a rock star.
TW: You spent the first two years of your professional career with Single A teams, first in Everett where you pitched in 10 games and then Clinton, Iowa, for seven more. In 2010 you were at High Desert, California, for the whole season, finally getting to Double A in Jackson, Tenn., last season. During your career so far you’ve alternated between starting and pitching in relief. Which do you prefer?
AC: I prefer starting. I like the routine and the rhythm of getting consistent work in every day then taking your game onto the mound every fifth day.
TW: What type of pitcher are you?
AC: I’m not a power pitcher. I’d say I’m more of a contact pitcher. I want batters to hit the ball on my terms, so I can get ahead in counts and control the game. I make whatever I have work and trust my defense.
TW: When you got here did you know any of your teammates?
AC: I knew a few from Double A and spring training. I worked with Brandon Bantz (the Rainiers’ other catcher) a lot last year. I’ll be real comfortable if I work with him behind the plate.
TW: Tacoma and much of the Pacific Coast League is pretty far from your home in Marietta, Ga. (near Atlanta.) Do any of your family plan to come see you?
AC: Actually my fiancé was here for my debut. She had planned to come to Tennessee that weekend to see me but when I got promoted, we scrambled around to change her flight so she could come here.
TW: Growing up did you have any players or teams that you followed?
AC: I was a huge Atlanta Braves’ fan, and I thought Greg Maddux was a wizard. It was a dream of mine to be a baseball player for as long as I can remember, but as a seven-year-old I couldn’t imagine ever being on a playing field.
TW: What do you consider the highlight of your career so far?
AC: Making the College World Series is definitely the best thing I’ve ever done with a team. We accomplished so much. I’ll hold that with me forever. In pro ball so far it’s just focusing on the day-to-day routine, not on the highs and lows of the season.
TW: What do you do during the off-season?
AC: I work out at a gym to stay in shape and I have worked at a finance office the last two years.
TW: How do you spend your time away from baseball?
AC: I like to read. Also I like messing around with the guitar. I’m not really any good but I enjoy it. Anything you can find to take your mind off the game is a big help.
TW: You’re just 25 and have a long career ahead of you. What do you think you might do after baseball?
AC: I’ve thought about it some and I think I’d like to do something where I wouldn’t have to go back to graduate school, something in the finance world, so I could spend time with my family.
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