Q&A with Patrick Leonard
Recently, Hit Bull Win Blog sat down with Durham’s 23-year-old infielder/outfielder to discuss his on-field play, traveling, history and playing for Craig Biggio.
How has the early part of the season gone for you?
Had the ups and downs. Started out doing well, now I’m kind of struggling a bit, but it’s a long season so I’m staying positive.
Did you expect to be in AAA this season?
I felt like I had a good year last year, and once you get to the Triple-A level it all kind of depends on who makes the big league team. I thought I deserved to be here, but it depends on who makes the team. In the end I’m here.
What has it been like playing at a different level every season?
At 19 years old I was in the Appalachian League with the Royals and that was fun, fun year. Then I got traded in the offseason and the next year went to Low-A with a whole new group of guys. There was an adjustment period and you know it was a great year there. Then in 2014, in High-A, it was the same group of guys and Jared (Sandberg) was our manager. That was a good year. Then last year in Double-A pretty much same group of guys and new manager with Brady Williams, that was a good year again. It was a good league, and I got to play in Jacksonville, my hometown. Now in Triple-A, and we’re already a month in. I remember just getting here. I remember it being spring training and wanting the season to start, now we’re here.
What was it like playing in Australia? Was that a crazy experience?
That was a lot of fun. That was 2013-14, and we had me and some guys I got close with on the Hot Rods (Rays Class-A affiliate), so that was fun. We got to travel the entire country, my parents came out there and we went to the Great Barrier Reef. That was really cool. We flew everywhere. Flew all over the country playing, so it was a great time for three months or so.
Was that your first time in Australia?
Yeah, that was my first time outside of the country other than some cruises and stuff. Then this last offseason I went to Europe.
Where did you go in Europe?
I went to England, Scotland and Ireland. My uncle got married in Northern England, so we kind of made a vacation out of it for 10 days. His wife is from Aonach, Northumberland in Northern England, so that was where they got married. It was a whole family thing. There were probably 10 of us who flew into London, we were there for a couple days, and then we drove up to Northumberland. Then we went to Scotland, went to the Loch Ness and saw that. Then flew to Dublin, Ireland and stayed there for a few days.
Where do you want to visit next?
I don’t know, I really enjoy travelling and seeing new places. I’ve always wanted to go to Germany. I took a class on the Holocaust in high school, and I’ve always found that part of history interesting, so I think it would be intriguing to tour the concentration camps and stuff like that. I know that’s not up some people’s alleys, but I’m intrigued by that stuff.
Do you consider yourself a history buff?
History was always my favorite. Math and history were always my best subjects in high school. I watch a lot of documentaries and stuff like that.
Was history something you wanted to study if you had gone to the University of Georgia instead of being drafted?
I think I’ve acquired that taste in history more over the years. In school it wasn’t something I was big into, the only thing I cared about was baseball then. But I think more since I’ve been in pro ball I’ve been intrigued by it.
You’ve played in the Durham area before with Burlington. Did you get a chance to explore the area?
I’ve never been to Durham before, I’ve been to Cary before, but not Durham or Raleigh. I enjoyed Burlington, it’s kind of a small town. I like North Carolina, I have a lot of family that lives outside Charlotte, and so I’ve been there plenty, but never Durham. I like it, it’s awesome so far.
Do you have a pre-game routine or any superstitions?
Yeah, starting last year around the first series of the second half, some of the guys didn’t think I could do 20 pushups in a row. I said, “I’ll do it, and if I hit a home run today I’ll do it the rest of the season,” and then I hit a home run, so I did it the whole season and carried that into this season.
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing baseball?
Well, I like to travel, and you have to have money for that, but I would probably do something like study or something with history. That’s what I do when I’m at home. When I don’t have anything to do I watch documentaries, so probably researching old historical sites or stuff like that. Some people might think that’s boring, but I like it.
You played under former Houston Astro and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio in high school. What was that like?
That was awesome. I moved to Houston my senior year for my dad’s job, and then we went to St. Thomas where his two kids went, so I played for Craig and that was awesome. I learned a lot of the mental side, because I was only 18, so I learned a lot then and a lot of infield stuff and mental side of the game. Craig helped a lot, and we were blessed, we won the state championship that year, so it was fun. Craig’s a great guy.
What is the biggest thing he taught you that has really stuck with you?
I’d say just playing the game hard because he was always about going out there and giving it everything you can because no one can ask more. You’re not going to get a hit every time, you’re not going to win every single game, but as long as you go out there and try to play to the best of your ability every day, no one can ask for more than that.
What has been your favorite memory from playing baseball?
The closest I got to winning a championship was my first year in the Appalachian League. There’s only three games in the series and all three games went to 13 innings, and we blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning with two outs. But I mean, it was awesome getting all the way there. Winning the high school state championship my senior year in Texas sticks out, too. And then in big league camp this year, I hit a home run in one of the games and that was awesome.