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Fans chat with John Cerutti
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05/28/2002 6:13 pm ET 
Fans chat with John Cerutti
By John Matthew IV / MLB.com

Currently John Cerutti is a color commentator with Rogers Sportsnet after five years with CBC. To many Toronto fans he is better known as a Blue Jays pitcher in the 1980s.

Cerutti chatted with fans in a live online chat on May 28.


Moderator: Our chat with John Cerutti will begin now.

John Cerutti: Hello everyone.

TORBJ: What do you think of Eric Hinske so far this season?
Cerutti: He is a great young ballplayer. He has a lot of talent but what I like most about Eric Hinske is the passion he has for the game. He will be a solid ballplayer for a long time in the big leagues.

Matthew Elmslie: Buck Martinez was one of the Jays catchers in your rookie season. Do you see any similarities or differences between Buck the catcher and Buck the manager?
Cerutti: I see a lot of similarities between Buck as a catcher and as a manager. He sees the game from the same perspective, from behind home plate. A catcher is in on every pitch. He has to work with the pitcher, he sets the defense, and he has to work with his manager. Those aspects Buck has carried into his managerial role now.

Furthermore, his demeanor as a manager is similar to what it was as a catcher. He never gets too low or too high, he stays on an even keel. He was like another coach on the field when I broke in as a rookie. I learned a lot about pitching from Buck and I learned a lot about the game of baseball from Buck and I still do. I did see him as a future coach or manager then.

BravesJohn: Did you have to change how you pitched when you moved from Exhibition Stadium to SkyDome?
Cerutti: Yes, slightly, because of the wind patterns at Exhibition Stadium. Usually the wind was blowing out to right field there. So you were more careful not to let the hitters hit the ball that way in the air. At SkyDome, you don't have the same wind patterns. You have to adapt to the conditions of the ballpark. Sometimes that will dictate how you will pitch. In other words, if the wind is blowing in from the outfield, you will throw more high fastballs so that the hitters will hit more flyballs to the outfield. I preferred to pitch in SkyDome in 1989 because the ball did not carry as well as it did in recent years. We thought it was more a pitchers park when we first moved in.

RyanNB: As far as amenities for players, how does SkyDome compare to some of the parks that have been built recently?
Cerutti: SkyDome is still very nice as compared to other parks. The clubhouses get bigger and the weight rooms get bigger but SkyDome still has nicer amenities than many ballparks.

splitter39: Mr. Cerutti, I am a big fan. I was wondering what the most memorable game in your career was?
Cerutti: I am asked that a lot and I still say my debut as a rookie. It was very exciting first of all and the culmination of a lot of hard work.

I was called up on Sept. 1, 1985. I didn't arrive until the fourth inning of the game because of the flight time and the CNE going on. I got to the clubhouse and I got dressed in my uniform and went into the dugout. I said hello to some of the players that I knew and Bobby Cox, the manager, said hello and asked me if I was able to pitch. I said, "Yes" of course. We were playing the Chicago White Sox. I got the call to warm up in the seventh inning when Jim Acker loaded the bases with no one out. Before I knew it, I was called into the game to face Harold Baines, their third hitter and their best hitter. Steve Nicosia was catching. Steve had just joined the club from Montreal the day before and I had never met him. So when I arrived at the mound, Bobby Cox said, "Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Steve this is John. John this is Steve."

I told Steve I threw a fastball, curveball and forkball, but we better just stick with the first two in this situation. He went back and called for a curveball and I threw it about five feet high: ball one. He called for another curveball and I made an adjustment and I bounced it: ball two. Now everyone knew I was going to throw a fastball, including Harold Baines. I reared back and threw a fastball down the middle of the plate and Baines foul tipped it back and it struck the umpire. I threw a second fastball, a little bit higher, and Baines swung and missed: 2-2. I threw another fastball, further up the ladder, and Baines swung and missed: strike three. Then finally I could breathe.

At that time, Bobby Cox was on his way to the mound. I was thinking he was going to go over the next batter, Carlton Fisk. Before I realized it, he was calling Bill Caudill into the game. It took me a moment to figure out I was being relieved. As I walked off the field to a big ovation, I was thinking, "I have struck out everyone I have faced in the big leagues and they are taking me out of the game."

BigJaysFan: Next week is the draft. You were a first round pick. Do you remember your feelings as that draft approached?
Cerutti: Yes, it was a thrill. I was expecting or hoping to go high in the draft. I was sitting by the phone with my entire family around. I was the 21st pick in the first round in 1981.

bluejayway: Hi John. What were your initial impressions of Cliff Politte last night?
Cerutti: From what I saw, he has a good live arm and that is impressive. He looked a little nervous, which is understandable but after the home run he allowed to Garciaparra he settled in and got three outs. It was only one outing but I think he has a chance to be a good pitcher for the Blue Jays.

AltaJaysFan: What can the Jays do to in the remaining 100 games or so to have a successful season?
Cerutti: Success for the Blue Jays this season is not measured by the number of wins. The Blue Jays need to continue to develop their young talent, improve their fundamentals and evaluate their players. Buck Martinez and his coaching staff are very good teachers and they work very hard with the players every day. If we see progress in all areas, they'll have a successful season. The Blue Jays have a good chance of having a good future in 2-3 years as the players mature together. As a former pitcher, I must say that the key is pitching, they have to develop good pitching.

Moderator: Thank you John. This chat is now over. Thank you fans for your great questions.

John Matthew IV is the Marketing Producer for bluejays.com and served as moderator for this chat. He can be reached at john.matthew@bluejays.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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