EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Scott Radinsky, former MLB player, current coach
LOS ANGELES, January 17, 2014 — Scott Radinsky spent 11 years in Major League Baseball as a reliever for the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Cleveland Indians. Radinsky also worked hisway through the Cleveland system to eventually become the pitching coach for the Indians in 2012. Now, Radinsky is the Double-A pitching coach at Chattanooga for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is also the lead singer of the punk band, Pulley. Last March, Wells On Baseball spoke with Radinsky regarding his career as a player and coach.
Kevin Wells: Who were your favorite ball players growing up?
Scott Radinsky: My favorite players as a kid were, well, The Big Red Machine; Pete Rose and Griffey and those guys and then all the Dodgers, really, you know, growing up in LA, everybody who played for the Dodgers.
KW: When the White Sox drafted you in 1986, as a Dodger fan, were you disappointed that the Dodgers didn’t select you?
SR: I don’t know if I was disappointed. I think I was pretty damn happy I got drafted in the first place. At the time, you think about the mid-80s, there really wasn’t ESPN. So I didn’t know a whole lot about other teams other than what came through LA. I just really didn’t get to see ‘em on TV all the time.
There was one game a week on Saturday and whatever you read in the paper and I didn’t read the paper when I was a little kid. So I really didn’t know a whole lot of what was going on in baseball. So when the guy from the White Sox called, I was a little caught off guard. I guess I was hoping it was gonna be the Dodgers and the Angels, but I wasn’t disappointed, no.
KW: You only gave up one homerun in your rookie season in 1990. Do you remember who hit that?
SR: Oh yeah, and it was the second to last day of the season. I gave it up to Jay Buhner on a fastball. He kinda swung and it kinda ran into the bat and it went out into right field. The bummer of it, in the old Kingdome, there was this metal railing on top of the wall and I swear, to this day, the ball still didn’t go out. It hit the railing and came back onto the field. Technically, my first homerun didn’t even go over the fence.
KW: What was it like when you finally got to play for the Dodgers?
SR: It was awesome. I was playing for the White Sox, obviously, and trying to win there every game we could. When I did have the opportunity and the White Sox didn’t want to re-sign me, that was obviously the only place I wanted to go. I think I signed a minor league deal to be able to go there. It was just a technicality in spring training just to get myself there. I mean, yeah, it was three of the best years of my life. It was great, living at home and playing baseball for my hometown team was pretty awesome.
KW: Did you collect baseball cards as a kid?
SR: Yeah, whenever I had money, you know, if I wasn’t buying some other kind of candy, I’d buy a pack of baseball cards. I wasn’t like a diehard, but I actually still have every card in a Vans shoebox.
KW: Did you collect your own baseball cards?
SR: You know, people sent ‘em to me at my house and they sent ‘em to me at the stadium. At the stadium, I pretty much sent mostly everything back. I think I’ve pretty much got at least one card of everything that’s ever been out there. I don’t know where they are, but I know I got ‘em somewhere.
KW: Who is the best hitter you ever faced?
SR: I faced a ton of good hitters, man, but who’s hit me? I had trouble with little guys, the Luis Polonia’s, the Jody Reed’s, the little pesky f***ers that keep fouling stuff off, you know, contact-type hitters. The really good hitters, they’re all the big boppers, but they also swing and miss.
KW: Who is the best teammate you ever had?
SR: Wow, man, I couldn’t just say one. I really couldn’t. I’ve had some pretty damn good teammates, man. I’d hate to name somebody and leave somebody out. To be able to have my locker next to Carlton Fisk, Hall of Famer, or next to a guy like Charlie Hough, who was in the game for 30 years or some s**t, to coach with Sandy Alomar, there’s so many good people, I’d hate to name a few.
KW: Was Ozzie Guillen as crazy as a player as he was as a manager?
SR: Yeah, he’s funny. I mean, I don’t know if he’s so much crazy as much as just outspoken and funny. We actually married sisters, so I’m technically kinda related to the guy, in a way. For me, it’s comical. I see it all the time, you know, behind the scenes too. He’s exactly the same sitting around a dinner table as he is on camera. It’s really not an act and it’s comical.
KW: What is the best prank you ever witnessed, pulled or had pulled on you?
SR: I remember these guys used to pretend they were fish. We’d get off the bus and be pretty drunk and they’d go swimming in their suits in these hotel water fountains. There’s some good stuff. I can’t think of off the top of my head, but there’s been some funny s**t.
KW: What is the best city to play as a road team?
SR: As a road team, definitely Chicago was my favorite city. When I was playing in Chicago, my favorite city was to go to LA. And then when I was playing anywhere else, my favorite city was to go to Chicago. And Wrigley field, well, Boston was good too, but Wrigley Field was my favorite.
KW: What did you think when you got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease?
SR: It sucked. I was gonna have to go home and miss the season and go through these treatments. I don’t really know how to describe it. It sucks. It sucked. Plain and simple.
KW: Did you reach out to Cleveland to be a coach or did they come knocking on your door?
SR: I kinda finished my playing there and I kinda had a relationship with Mark Shapiro and we had talked about it. He had said if I was ever interested, get in contact. When I finally got interested, we talked about some things and he kinda set me up as an instructor first. I just kinda roved around the minor leagues, got a feel for the organization and then they offered me a coaching job. So, I think it was kind of mutual.
KW: What were your feelings when the Cleveland Indians fired you as pitching coach last year?
SR: Well, it was the first time I had ever been fired or released or anything. So, obviously, I was kinda bummed. It was more frustrating because we were losing and our team wasn’t playing very good. I guess I felt like I got short changed a little bit. I’m never gonna say I got f****ed or screwed, but I do think that I put in bit of service there.
I coached for five years in the minor leagues and I did something right to work my way up to the bullpen and up to the big leagues. They thought something of me to promote me as the pitching coach and then all of a sudden four months into the season and all of a sudden now I’m unqualified. I don’t think it had anything to do with wins and losses. I don’t think it had anything to do with performance. I think it had to do with maybe not being accommodating to a new school-type environment of GMs and front offices.
I guess I felt like just because a guy is doing bad right now, I’m not gonna go overload him and maybe I wasn’t as hands on as they wanted. I guess I used more of my feel than I over-coached. I don’t know, it was a joke. I thought it sucked. I thought I got short changed, you know, whatever. I guess that’s all I can say about it.
I don’t hold any hard feelings or anything because I am grateful for the opportunity they gave me, but why give me an opportunity just to pull the rug out from under my feet in just a few months? I didn’t get it, you know? I didn’t really feel I should be fully personally held accountable for a team’s failure and that’s kind of the way it was handled, you know?
KW: What are you doing now, coaching-wise?
SR: Right now I’m in spring training [with the Los Angeles Dodgers] and I’m in charge of the Triple A team. I think during the season, I’m just gonna rove around and maybe do a short season team, like a two-month team when they get the new draft guys.
KW: If you were to go into the Hall of Fame, which hat would you want to wear?
SR: White Sox hat.
KW: What is your opinion of the steroid era players in regards to the Hall of Fame?
SR: Whatever, man. I had to pitch through it. I don’t know. I mean, it didn’t really affect me. I don’t know how much different my numbers would have been. I mean, those guys didn’t bother me. Like I said, most of those guys have a lot of swing and miss to their swing. So you just have to thread the needle in the right place and get ‘em out. If Pete Rose can’t be in the Hall of Fame, then why can someone who injected something illegal be in the Hall of Fame?
Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball