Jerome Williams, to say the least, has a very colorful background. Williams, now 31 years old, was acquired by the Halos in 2011 and made his first appearance for the big-league club in August, 2011. I was recently able to conduct an interview with the Hawaii native, and he provided me with some very interesting and insightful answers. Hope you enjoy!
Halo Hangout: What advice would you give to a kid trying to become a major league player?
Jerome Williams: Never let anybody tell you you can’t do it. Always strive to what you think you can do. Never let anybody tell you you can’t do it.
HH: What do you enjoy the most about the game of baseball?
JW: Just… having the opportunity to play against the best baseball players in the world. Going out there and playing against these guys; some of the guys I watched when I was growing up. And seeing young talent perform well!
JW: Favorite thing to do in the offseason? <laughs> Well, when I’m not working out or anything, you know… spending time with my kids and spending time with my family.
HH:What are your most and least favorite things about the minors?
JW: Most favorite is probably going to different areas, you know… being in different parts of the country. I’ve been in California and Texas. Me being from Hawaii, I never really traveled that much. So, when I had the chance to play minor league baseballl — traveling all over the nation. My least favorite, I want to say, is probably the bus drives. In AAA the early wake up calls, and then the bad eating. You can only get something to eat after 12 o’clock which is usually like the gas station or something.
JW: Bank One Ballpark which is in Arizona. I had a lot of success there when I was with the Giants. Every time I went there I pitched well.
HH: What’s your least favorite stadium to pitch in?
JW: Yankees stadium <laughs>. It’s so short to right, they have a good lineup… and it’s just really tough.
JW: Todd Helton. To this day, I can not get him out. Even when I do get him out, it’s a hard out. He puts the bat on the ball on just about every pitch that I throw to him.
HH: Who was your favorite player as a kid?
JW: I really didn’t have one. Me growing up in Hawaii, it was weird because every time they had a baseball game going on I was at practice — because of the time difference. The only games that were being showed were ESPN games or TBS games. At that time, TBS, and still today… they always show the Braves. At those times I wasn’t really watching baseball, I was playing it; so I really didn’t have a favorite player.
HH: How and when did you become interested in baseball?
JW: I was four years old and my father took me to the park and he wanted me to play basketball. I really didn’t want to try and play basketball, and told my father that I actually wanted to play a sport where kids are on the field playing. So, my dad actually told me,”if you really want to do this, you’re gonna have to sit out a year so I can teach you the game of baseball.” So I sat out a year and he taught me the game of baseball. By the time I was 6 years old, I was playing baseball and I was really good at it.
HH: If you had the opportunity to hit against any MLB pitcher, who would it be and why?
JW: Oh man, I dont know. I want to say Roger Clemens, because my second year — when he was with the Astros — he struck me out three times. And when he had his first at-bat against me, he hit a line drive up the middle, so I really want to get that hit against him… because, you know, he’s Roger.
HH: What’s the most exciting game you’ve ever played in?
JW: The most exciting game I ever played in was during my rookie year. I think it was game five against the Marlins. I pitched in that game. Everybody knows what happened at the end; the runner tried to score from second and run over Ivan Rodriguez. He didn’t succeed, and you know, you had Ivan showing everyone the ball. We lost that game, but just the atmosphere and being a part of that as a rookie… pitching in Pro Player Stadium against the Marlins in front of 80,00 people was the best experience I’ve ever had in a baseball game.
HH: Which major league pitcher would you compare yourself to?
JW: Are we talking before 2011, or after 2011? I was a totally different pitcher when I was younger than I am now.
HH: How about both before and after.
JW: Before 2011, I’d probably compare myself to Dwight “Doc” Gooden. He threw hard, had a hard curveball. Now, I’d compare myself to myself <laughs>. It’s a whole different style how I pitch now. It’s totally different than before. And I don’t think I pitch like anybody else; I don’t think anybody pitches like me. I just want to be myself.
HH: Working on the sinker?
JW: Yep… sinker, cutter, change. That’s all I’m going to work on <laughs>.
HH: How is this 2013 team different than the 2012 team?
JW: Well, last year we had a rough start. The first month, month-and-a-half, we started off slow. We turned it on at the end, but it wasn’t enough. But I think with this team, we have everything accomplished. We have a good starting rotation, our bullpen is solid — adding a few arms to the bullpen, adding three arms to the starting rotation, adding hamilton, he’s a big bat… with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Unfortunately, we lost Torii Hunter, but we have guys who can hopefully step up and get his production back. And hopefully this time will get far — and get to the World Series.
HH: What role do you plan on playing in 2013?
JW: Any role they put me in. I think as of right now I’m the long man. Whatever role they put me in, I will try and do my best and go out there and shine. I’ll give everybody 100% every time I get the ball.
HH: Yeah, I really like that when a starter is struggling for the day, it’s perfect for you to come out and shut the other team down, to at least give the Angels a chance to come back and win.
JW: Exactly… That’s my job. That’s my job to do. Every time I do go out there and do that, that’s my intent, and that’s what I want to do every time I go out there.
HH: That’s a good mindset to have.
JW: Always a good mindset.
HH: What do you think of Mike Trout?
JW: What everybody else thinks of Mike Trout <laughs>. I mean… he’s uhh… a superstar in the making. He proved it last year. He came up from AAA and immediately made an impact. That’s the type of guy that you would love to have on your team. He’s a spark plug, and a young kid, and you know… you’d love to play behind a guy like that.
HH: It’s got to be nice to know that anything hit out there is going to be caught next year, right? With Trout AND Bourjos out there.
JW: Peter Bourjos, Trout AND Hamilton… Ooohhhh… You never know… You know for a fact that everything that’s hit out there these guys can track down and get the out.
HH: How did Torii Hunter affect the team in 2012?
JW: He showed leadership in the cluibhouse and on the field. He’s a guy that you’d love to have your back in anyway possible; on and off the field. He was a good teammate and a good person overall. And like I said, he was our leader on and off the field.
HH: I think it was a couple of years ago when Fernando Rodney said that the Angels tried to change his pitching mechanics; any truth to that?
JW: Well, I wasn’t there for most of the season, so I never really heard anything like that.
HH: So they don’t do it now? They let you be you?
JW: Yep, they let me be me. If they have suggestions, the suggestions will be said. If I like it, I like it. If I don’t, I don’t, but as long as long as I’m able to do well and perform… that’s the number one goal.
HH: Do you think participating in the World Baseball Classic is worth the injury risk?
JW: It’s (WBC) a good thing. Some guys do get hurt. And they get hurt before the season or during the season — some time around the first month — because they get ready too quick. They tend to get ready too quick and now they have to get ready for the season. Everything is so compact in one area that they get hurt. However, it’s good to see international teams and player come to the states. And we (the U.S.) can compare ourselves against some of the guys from the other countries. So I think it’s both bad and good.
HH: Okay, I think that’ll do for now. Thank you so much, Jerome.
JW: No problem.