Seth Lugo set himself apart from the other candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring, with a 1-1 mark in seven appearances, 2.87 ERA, 17 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, giving up just three walks and 15 hits. And while his first outing was bypassed due to the snow-out at Citi Field Monday, the Shreveport, Louisiana, native will likely become a major contributor to the staff this year, either out of the bullpen or when called upon to start.
It isn’t often a 34th round selection from the amateur draft each June makes it to the majors, but Lugo has overcome those odds after being selected in 2011 by the Mets, and already owns a 12-7 major league record from two half-seasons with the club in 2016 and ‘17, 36 games, 3.92 ERA, 130 Ks in 165.1 innings, 1.26 WHIP. And he has never made an error in those 36 appearances.
Lugo has endured several injuries in his brief professional career. He missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing back surgery for a lumbar fusion. And after somewhat impressive outings pitching for Puerto Rico in the WBC last spring – three starts, 2-1, 4.20, 15 innings – (Lugo’s paternal grandfather was born in Puerto Rico), where he was even tabbed to start the Championship Game against the United States, ironically, Lugo lost the first nine weeks of last season due to right elbow inflammation. And in August, he lost ten days due to a right shoulder impingement.
On the day he would have have made his first 2018 start, we had a chance to share a few moments with Seth and revive our periodic “Out of Left Field” series, where we get to dig a little deeper into Lugo’s background:
NYSportsDay: You probably didn’t have too many games snowed out in Louisiana, but what was the worst weather game you’ve had to experience in school or in the minors?
Seth Lugo: The worst for me would be in college (Centenary College, LA, a Division 1 school). We played against North Dakota State, at their place. It was a three-day series. The first day, Friday, 70 degrees out, great weather. Saturday was in the 40s and kinda raining all day, and Sunday, there was a blizzard. A full-on blizzard. Never saw anything like it. It was pretty crazy. We had three seasons in one weekend.
NYSD: What’s it been like to be part of the rotation from Day One out of spring training?
SL: It’s exciting, with the guys we have in this locker room we’re going to have a really good team this year, and it’s great to be a part of it, especially from the beginning, and hopefully the whole way through. Just making the team out of the spring was real special to me.
NYSD: Who were you a fan of growing up in Louisiana?
SL: I was always a (Texas) Rangers fan. I was a “Pudge” fan (Ivan Rodriguez). I was never a catcher, but for some reason, my favorite player was a catcher, Pudge. I also liked Juan Gonzalez. He’d knock in so many RBIs every year. He was the guy.
NYSD: Did you try to mimic any particular pitcher’s delivery growing up?
SL: Not really. My mechanics, going over the head, pointing my toe, and my leg lift, came from my dad. His favorite player was Nolan Ryan. So I think he made me try to pitch sorta like Nolan Ryan.
NYSD: Nolan Ryan was an early proponent of working out after a game, when most pitchers got ready for their start, and then relaxed afterward. What’s your pre and post game routines?
SL: Again, going back to my dad. He told me how Nolan would throw a game and go on the bike for 20 minutes after. So post game conditioning goes all the way back for me to high school.
I’ve always tried to do something try to keep your legs strong, that sort of stuff. The game’s changed a bit so that’s now mandatory to work out after. I enjoy it.
NYSD: Things have changed even going into spring training as well. There was a time when players didn’t do as much in the winter as you have to go through now, is there?
SL: Back then, spring training was to get ready for the season. Now you have to ready for spring training. Cause its more competing for jobs, now.
NYSD: Did you get to many Rangers games driving over from Louisiana?
SL: Yeah, some. Dallas was three hours away. A lot of my friends liked the Astros, but I didn’t. Houston was about four and half, five hours away. Growing up, I liked the American League.
NYSD: You lettered in four sports in high school. What was it about baseball?
SL: Baseball was actually my worst sport in high school. I got offered a better scholarship in football than I got for baseball. I was a punter. In track I was a state finalist in the high jump. In soccer I was a goalie. I had a lot of fun doing that.
NYSD: What was your favorite subject in high school?
SL: I was always a pretty good writer, but I didn’t like English class.
I know, that’s almost contradictory. (But) I had an English professor in college who made me switch majors cause I wrote so many good papers.
(And) I always enjoyed history, and math, and science.
My dad actually worked for SpaceX, so he was like that, too.
In college, I studied geology. I found that interesting.
NYSD: With an interest in science, are you a Sci-Fi guy?
SL: I actually read a lot of Sci-Fi.
NYSD: Are you a Star Trek or Star Wars kind of guy?
SL:: Star Wars.
NYSD: Are you a fan of the history of baseball?
SL: In high school, no. But over the past few years I’ve watched some documentaries, and other stuff about baseball.
NYSD: Ever been to Cooperstown?
SL: No, I haven’t. Someday…
NYSD: Thanks, Seth, for a few minutes.
SL: Anytime, but I got to get to a meeting now.