Some guys light up a room. Or in this case, a dugout. I felt a jolt of energy when I saw Zac Curtis approaching my microphone (cell phone). He has the long hair, the quirkiness of a versatile lefty and a smile that could post its own stats.
Curtis, who will turn 24 on Independence Day, was a sixth round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. This past summer, he was dealt to the Seattle Mariners in one of what felt like a hundred deals that new Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto pulled off.
That deal had an affect on Curtis. A good one. He’s that type of player and that type of guy. His glass is half full, not half empty and his future in the big leagues is already off to a great start.
Selected as a 2017 Texas League All-Star, he pitched a spotless inning in relief —his 0.00 ERA matching his 2017 Major League total— showing more of the same in what has been a huge year for the left-hander.
Let’s get to know Zac Curtis.
Hey Now, You’re an All-Star!
“It’s exciting. It’s great to be here and get the opportunity to play with all these players. These are the best in the league, the best in their organization and it’s a cool experience to come out and see all this stuff, to see what the Frisco RoughRiders put on for us. I think everybody’s excited to be here, I definitely am.”
A worthy Inclusion...
“Yeah, it’s definitely humbling. Definitely a cool experience. To look back a couple years from now and see all these dudes in the big leagues and hopefully be there with them and get to reminisce about this. Right now I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and not look too far ahead but knowing in the future a lot of these guys are gonna be in the big leagues is cool.”
June 14th: All-Star
June 16th: Back in the big leagues
“It was exciting, it was really fast. I think I landed and got to the field in the fifth inning and by the bottom of the sixth I was in the game for three innings. So it was exciting, really fast. But it’s always fun getting to go up there and show ‘em what you got, give ‘em everything you have and whether it’s for a day or for the rest of your career you just go up there and enjoy it.”
“It was crazy. My flight landed a little bit late, my bags were a little late so I landed as soon as the game started and then it took me about 30-45 minutes to get over to the field from the airport. As soon as I got there, I didn’t know if I was gonna throw or if I was gonna be activated. The clubhouse guy said ‘hey, you’re activated. We need to get you in uniform.’
“So I change and go out to the bullpen, say hi to all the guys, get a little bit of water and the phone rings. ‘He’s (coming in) in the sixth.’ As soon as I got there, I sat down for probably five minutes, stretched a little bit then started getting loose and ready to go.”
Not the first rodeo
“Yeah, I think it always helps. The more experience you have the easier it gets, but it’s always still nerve wracking. I think anybody that says they don’t get nervous is lying. Whether it’s here for the All-Star Game, here for the regular season or in the big leagues, we’re all playing this sport for a reason. Anytime I go up there or anytime I pitch, I get a little bit nervous. The big leagues always add to it but it’s fun energy.”
Was the call-up going to be brief?
“I just assumed it was gonna be temporary. I had gotten called up earlier in the year to Toronto for four days just to help the bullpen. I think it was kind of the same thing, the bullpen was a little taxed. They just said ‘hey, you’re in’ and then I pitched what I could. They knew they couldn’t use me the next two days so they needed to get another fresh arm in there so it’s just kind of the cycle that’s been going on. All of our guys are starting to get healthy now so we’ll see what happens.”
“Zac Curtis, I Choose You!”
“It was really good, it was really rewarding to me for them to trust me to come up there and save the bullpen. That’s what my job was and all I was trying to do. It was definitely a lot of fun. The three innings I threw in Arlington was the longest outing I’ve had since college, so getting stretched out like that was a lot of fun. It felt good again to get that many pitches, innings, whatever you want to call it under my belt.”
“It’s exciting. I didn’t really think I was on the trading block. I didn’t think my name would ever be mentioned in a trade because I didn’t finish the year with Arizona as well as I wanted to. Knowing that Jerry (Dipoto) wanted me personally in that trade gave me a lot of confidence that when I came over here I could just be myself and go and good things would happen. It gave me a lot of confidence for that trade to happen.”
Traded with company
“Me and Mitch (Haniger) played with each other for a game in Visalia in 2015 when I went up for the playoffs and I played with Jean (Segura) last year in the big leagues. I don’t know them a ton, like very personally, but just knowing familiar faces coming over, you can still say hi to someone and not walk in the room without knowing a single person.”
Rotation or bullpen?
“I can’t say either one. I love the bullpen, I loved starting in college. Whatever a big league team needs me for, you know what I mean. Whatever I can do to be on a big league roster and stay there, I’ll do. I don’t care if it’s a lefty-only specialist for one out or it’s a starter going seven. Whatever it is, I just want to help a team win, I want to get to a Major League playoff game, I want to do all that stuff. So whatever it takes to get there.”
“(It’s been long) my whole life. I had short hair one year in college and it was the worst year of baseball I’ve had in my entire life so I told myself never again. I gave myself a shot and it didn’t work so I bang’d it after that, so I’ve always had it. I grew up in Florida and moved to Tennessee in my teenage years so I got some funny looks.”
Is it a lefty thing?
(Laughs) “Yeah, Yeah. I think (Randy Johnson) kind of started it. He had the mullet and some guys followed suit.”