Included in Nick Cafardo's "Baseball Notes" column from Sunday's Boston Globe is a quick Q&A with Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers. How about we save you an extra click today?
You've heard your old buddy Terry Francona is trying to quit chewing tobacco. You once built a spittoon in Texas for him.
KR: "Glad to hear he's trying to quit. He needs to. I'll build him something else. After a couple of guys almost got killed in the dugout slipping on that tobacco juice, I said, all right, I'm not going to get him to stop, but let's try the other route. I went to the grounds crew guys and they gave me all the pieces and I put it together over a period of four innings. It was pretty nice."
Everybody remembers the playoff game. You went 7 2/3 innings in a 6-0 win over the Yankees, a team you'd had a 6.45 ERA against in 35 previous games. In that game and through the playoffs and World Series, you -- a finesse pitcher -- were throwing in the mid-90s. Can you ever do it again?
KR: "I can do it on occasion. I'm not that type of pitcher and I know that. I can't do that for a whole season, and the reason is I wouldn't last. I take a big chance when I try to pitch like that. It's out of my style. So when I take that chance, the hardest part for me is to locate in the spots I'm supposed to be in. If you're off the mark and you're up against a professional hitter, he'll hit that mistake 420 feet as opposed to grounding out to shortstop if I hit that zone."
How much was it adrenaline, or wanting to beat the Yankees after everyone harped on the fact you couldn't?
KR: "In that game, I threw every four-seamer as physically hard as I could. I couldn't have thrown them any harder. But the thing is, I kept my location. I took a chance because I could have been out of the game in the second or third inning. When I came up, I threw 96 m.p.h., but I changed my approach because I've had eight surgeries to my shoulder, elbow, knee, ribs. But on that night I kept that velocity through the whole game."
You're 42. How much longer can you pitch?
KR: "I think I can go on for a while as long as I can do what I'm supposed to do for a team. It's all about what I'm willing to handle physically. It's a tougher grind when you get to this level and this age. I do things that I probably shouldn't do, like diving for balls. I enjoy that part of it. I pay for that. I'll pay for it when I'm out of baseball. For me it's worth the sacrifice. I'm hopeful I have a few more years. I know I do if I want it."