Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Cubs [Print without images]

Thursday, May 2, 2013
Cubs mailbag: James Russell

By Jesse Rogers

James Russell
Starting or closing are James Russell's ideal roles.
This week's mailman is Chicago Cubs reliever James Russell. He delivers the answers to your questions:

Q: Hey James, I was wondering what role within the Cubs bullpen you prefer? You have been a great set-up man for the last few years, but I believe that you would be a great fit for the ninth inning. Is that something that you are interested in one day or are you happy with being the lefty specialist and set up man? --
Jack (Chicago)

JR: Honestly, ultimately I'd like to start. I have fun setting up but one of the biggest adrenaline rushes is closing a big-league ball game. So either one. I like being on the mound pitching.

Q: James, who has better hair, you or Jeff Samardjiza? What shampoo do you use? -- Mike (Valparaiso, Ind.)
JR: Well, me for sure. And I use whatever they have in the showers here. I think it's Tresemme or something. I'm holding out until I get that commercial for Head and Shoulders.

Q: How long did it take you to feel comfortable at the next level after being called up from the minors? --
Patrick (Storrs, Conn.)

JR: Pretty quick. I felt I belonged once I made the team out of spring training (in 2010). It was my first big-league camp and made the team, didn't give up a run in spring so I felt like had a little confidence going. I felt like I actually belonged here.

Q: James, who do you most follow as a pitcher and who did you look up to when you first started pitching? --
Josh (Marion, Iowa)

JR: I've always looked up to Darren Oliver. He's always been good to me and always around when my dad (Jeff) was playing, to talk to and hang out with. Right now I love watching Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw throw.

Q: Do you think the limit on night games and outdated facilities at Wrigley negatively affect your team's performance on the field? If so how? --
Randall (Knoxville, Tenn.)

JR: I don't think it hurts us on the field, it just sucks not being able to play more night games. You're just mentally and physically more tired but it's the cards we're dealt. We have to deal with it.

Q: What is the hardest part about pitching in the major leagues? --
Dylan (Elburn, Ill.)

JR: Just the hitters. I mean they're really good. They get paid a lot of money to hit your mistakes and you can't make those mistakes up there. I got to face Miguel Cabrera once. I got him out but he seems like the toughest guy out there. The back of his baseball card says he's pretty good.

Q: What was it like to grow up with a father who pitched in the big leagues? --
Michael (West Lafayette, Ind.)

JR: It was awesome. I got to grow up with those guys and hang out in the clubhouse. Go shag in the outfield with them and see what trouble I could get into. I grew up with my playground being a big-league ballpark so not many kids can say that. For me to get to be here as a big kid now, it's awesome.