This month should be a satisfying one for Newton resident Andrew Chin. On the heels of a monster spring season on the mound for the Buckingham, Browne & Nichols Knights ( who went undefeated in the ISL to capture the league title), the Boston College-bound lefty is off this month at two events he’s been gearing up for all year. This week, he’s been at the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla. This weekend, he’ll be at the prestigious Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif.
Chin sat down with ESPNBoston last week, following a workout at the Hudson-based Cressey Performance, to talk about his upcoming appearances, his workout regimen and why he doesn’t do vacations.
Q: With the East Coast Pro and Area Code Games on the horizon, how motivated have you been this past month?
A: "I’m extremely motivated. I’ve been motivated since February, to push myself to the limit, but not over the limit, to be the best I can be because I want to compete with the best. I’ve been preparing for these two events the past two years. Each day I’ve been getting better, each day I’ve been meeting a lot of great people who are helping me to reach my goal of playing in these two events.
"Even before February (the start of the baseball season for BB&N), I was really looking forward to next year’s East Coast Pro and Area Code Games. So I’ve been making sure I really make every single day count."
Q: When I last checked in with you, the coaches on the BB&N campus were telling some great stories about you running along the Charles River as part of your training. How often do you get to do that these days?
A: "Not too often, but I’m still keeping up my long distance…I’m doing a lot of plyometric stuff at Cressey Performance…a lot of the stuff Eric (Cressey) focuses on is flexibility and stability of your body, and he’s really big on focusing on core strength, hip strength, a lot of stuff like that. He’s not going to give you a regimen, not a typical beach body workout. He’s really going to focus on your weaknesses. That’s what he’s there for, to get you and your weaknesses better and make them strengths."
Q: Where have you seen the biggest improvement in your stuff?
A: "My off-speed. I can now throw my curveball and changeup for a strike."
Q: So how confident are you now in all four of your pitches? (Chin has both a two-seam and four-seam fastball)
A: "Very confident. I feel like I can throw any pitch for a strike in any count."
Q: A lot of people comment on your work ethic. What drives you the most as a baseball player?
A: "I want to get to the highest level I can possibly get to, whether it’s college, summer, pro ball, I want to see how far I can go in this sport."
Q: Who’s the toughest batter you’ve face?
A: "I’ve faced a couple. Oh man, that’s a tough one…I’d say, Christian Lopes (a potential 2011 first-rounder from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison High), Travis Harrison (from Tustin (Calif.) High School), and I’ll say Dwight Smith, Jr. (son of former Chicago Cub Dwight Smith). Those kids are studs. I can throw any pitch, and they can recognize it, and if it’s a strike they’ll take a hack at it, if it’s a ball they’ll stay put and let it go. At a lot of upper levels, kids will be guessing; but those types of kids, when you face them, they’re never guessing. They know what they want to do at each at bat. They have a goal and a plan, and they’ll always challenge me."
Q: What was your best outing this summer?
A: "I’d say my best outing was with the East Coast Grays in the World Woodbat (Championships) down in East Cobb (Ga.). It was a night game, our coach was a Red Sox scout, Chris Snusz. We’re in Cartersville, Georgia, the middle of nowhere. A storm was coming through, and there was a 2-1/2 hour rain delay, so our game didn’t start until 9:30. That’s a step of adversity, as a pitcher and as a team – how do you handle a big delay? The first inning was kind of rough – this New York kid just smacked a double to the left-center gap, there was an error, I walked a kid – but I got out of it, think only one run scored. I only went three innings, but the reason why I call it my best outing is because I was able to deal with a lot of adversity and I was able to keep my team in the game. When I came out, we ended up having a 7-1 lead. I think that first inning was a huge step for us, because we coulda folded that first inning, but our bats came alive and we had a great game."
Q: How has Mik Aoki’s move from Boston College to Notre Dame affected your commitment to BC?
A: "I talked to the coaches, and I’m still going to BC. I think (new Eagles head coach Mike) Gambino is a great guy, and it was a great move for the program. I really mean it. I think Gambino really knows what he’s doing. He’s young, he brings a lot of knowledge to the school, and I think his assistants are great."
Q: Where are the places you hang out in Newton?
A: "I can’t really say that, because I don’t usually hang out in Newton. I’ll go to friends’ houses, but there’s not much to do in Newton. There’s the Chestnut Hill Mall, but that’s not my cup of tea. I’ve heard a lot of people in Newton go to the Cape, I’ve never been there…there, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, I’ve never been to that part of Massachusetts."
Q: So where do you vacation?
A: "Baseball trips are my vacation. For my family…I mean, when I was younger, we’d go on vacation, Hawaii, Florida. But the older I’ve gotten, baseball has become such a big part of my life, my parents’ lives, that their idea of a vacation is ‘OK, let’s get on a plane and watch Andrew play baseball every week’. To me, I’d rather play baseball than sit on a cruise ship and go to the Bahamas for a week. I’d rather be competing, because honestly, the reason why I play baseball, the reason why I train so hard, is so I can compete with the best of the best, because I love it. I love to compete every day. Even in there (at Cressey Performance), I have to compete with myself.
"There are going to be some times where I’m going to say, ‘I’m not sure if can get through this last set, I’m not going to get through this last set of dumbbell lunges’. Today, I was on the Reebok Step-Up, and I was like, ‘Can I do this?’ You’ve really got to push yourself, because your mind is telling you to take a break. But you’ve got to tell your body to just stick it out and get through it.
"So, I’d much rather go through 100-degree heat in Lakeland, Florida and compete with a bunch of great kids than, you know, sit on the beach and lay there for two hours. I’d much rather be on a baseball field or in the gym."
Q: What’s the most important thing for a pitcher to look out for to stay healthy in between starts?
A: "Stay true to the regimen, stay comfortable, make sure they get their cardio in, making sure they get their weights done, stay true to the regimen basically. You can’t go out there and pitch seven innings, take the next four days off and then go out the fifth day and pitch another seven innings. Being a pitcher is always a process. It’s never one-day thing.
"If anything, the four days rest you get have to lead up to the fifth day. What I’ve learned from a lot of people is that if you train bad, you’re going to pitch bad. You’ve got to train well to pitch well. You can’t ever become complacent. You can’t ever…I think the best way to put it, is for a pitcher to stay loose and stay healthy, be able to pitch long, is to never become complacent, never become happy with whatever accomplishments he’s gotten, because he can never become satisfied. You always have to have that hunger to get better every single day."