Rainiers starting pitcher Chaz Roe spent the first seven years of his professional career with the Colorado Rockies organization. He was traded to the Mariners last December in exchange for Jose Lopez. This season he has made 10 starts and has a 0-5 record. Tacoma Weekly baseball writer Karen Westeen recently sat down with Roe to find out more about the right hander’s career.
TW: You were drafted 35th in the first round right out of high school by Colorado in 2005. Did you expect them to take you?
CR: No, I didn’t. I got a call from the Braves that I was supposed to go 27th, but I got pushed back. I’m glad Colorado saw something in me that got them to give me a shot.
TW: Were you scouted pretty heavily?
CR: I was. One of our first senior scrimmages there were 30 scouts.
TW: Where were you on draft day?
CR: At home with friends and family, watching the draft on TV. It was very exciting.
TW: Where did you grow up and go to high school?
CR: I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and went to Lafayette High School there.
TW: Do you still live there?
CR: Yes. I just bought a house there two years ago.
TW: And you have family there?
CR: Yes, my parents and brother and his family.
TW: You’re still single?
TW: Have you always been a starting pitcher?
CR: Pretty much. I played some shortstop in high school when I wasn’t pitching.
TW: Did you play other sports?
CR: I tried basketball, but I didn’t like it. I loved football, and played it my freshman and sophomore years, but I pretty much had a concussion every game I played so I quit.
TW: You didn’t have any college before you started to play professionally. Have you taken any classes since you started playing?
CR: I haven’t. I’ve been pretty busy playing.
TW: Your professional career started in 2005 in rookie ball in Casper, Wyoming. What was it like for you to go so far from home?
CR: Living on my own right out of high school was not too hard. I’ve always able to handle myself, but my mom hated it because I was gone for two years after being drafted. She loved to have me come home.
TW: Have they seen you play here yet?
CR: No, but they are coming out for our homestand against Reno.
TW: Besides Casper, where else have you played?
CR: I spent 2006 in Asheville, then two years in Modesto, California, two years in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and last year I was in Triple A with Colorado Springs.
TW: Do you have a favorite park to pitch in?
CR: I pitched best at the Springfield, Missouri park in Double A, and I don’t like Colorado Springs. It’s one of hardest I’ve ever pitched in because of the altitude.
TW: Had you pitched here in Tacoma before you were signed by the Mariners?
CR: I pitched here twice last year.
TW: How did you do?
CR: I did all right the first time and very well the second. I like this park.
TW: What do you think of the changes, especially to the lowered fences behind left and right field?
CR: When the balls get up in the air they fly out, and singles will now be homeruns. Pitchers have to concentrate more to get ground balls with the lower walls.
TW: What is your out pitch?
CR: My slider, but I’m working on a two-seamer which I’ve been throwing a lot for weak ground balls.
TW: What kind of a pitcher are you?
CR: Definitely a pitch-to-contact pitcher. I like to control the strike zone with a two-seamer, get the hitters off balance with a changeup, and then get them to hit ground balls. Usually when I get two strikes is when I throw my slider. It’s been a good out pitch for me ever since I was drafted.
TW: You’re working with Dwight Bernard here, who’s a new pitching coach for you. What’s he doing for you?
CR: He’s helped me out a lot. He doesn’t try to change my mechanics, just let’s me do what I do, talks to me about what I can do, and if it doesn’t work I can scratch it. He’s been a big key to my success this year.
TW: Did you know any of the players here before you joined the Rainiers?
CR: I knew of them not but didn’t know any personally. They accepted me like I was one of them. They helped me fit right in, be more comfortable. They helped me out a lot.
TW: Have you spent any time on the disabled list?
CR: In 2008 I tore my meniscus the first day of spring training and had knee surgery. I was out about a month and a half. So far that’s been it.
TW: What about fall or winter ball?
CR: Yes, I played fall ball in 2008 and 2009 with the Desert Dogs. We won it all in 2008.
TW: You haven’t pitched yet at the Major League level but have you pitched to any rehabbing Major Leaguers?
CR: In a Double A game I pitched to Ian Kinsler. Most of the others were in spring training.
TW: Do you think about getting your first call-up?
CR: That’s always in the back of my mind, and I have to work hard to be ready when my time comes.
TW: Any idea what you might do after your baseball career is over?
CR: I haven’t given it much thought. I always wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid, but it would also be great to help the next generation of players by coaching or working with kids.
TW: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
CR: When I was in Double A Tulsa in 2009. That was the best year I’ve had. Everything clicked for me. I could put the ball anywhere I wanted, and I felt great all year long.