Our baseball writer Roger Mills got the Devil Rays' Rich Butler and Jason Johnson to answer a few questions for us.
Q: You describe your first experience in the major leagues as memorable and helpful. Tell us about it.
A: It was the start of last season (with the Pittsburgh Pirates), and I came in as a reliever to face (the Los Angeles Dodgers' Mike) Piazza. That was when I really got scared. I looked down at the plate, and there he was facing me for real. He hit a home run. I'll never forget it. It was my first time facing a major-leaguer in a regular-season game, and he hammered me. It was an experience that brought me back to reality. It was sort of a rude awakening, but it made me realize that this was the major leagues, and I realized I could not be happy just getting there. I had to put the experience behind me and move on.
Q: Everybody has a pet peeve. What's yours?
A: The thing that bothers me most is people who think that they are so much higher than anybody else. People who look down on others because they have accomplished more or have more, I have a problem with those kind of people. I have met (baseball) players who think that way. They look down on you. They say you're a rookie and you don't belong here, and they treat you like you're a nobody. I just want to tell them that everybody is the same. I usually keep my mouth shut, but sometimes I have to tell them that everybody has at least one good quality.
Q: Your brother Rob was in spring training with the Houston Astros when the devastating tornadoes hit Kissimmee in March. Tell us what experiences he shared with you.
A: He saw the tornado that ran right through Kissimmee, and he said it was the most intimidating thing he had ever seen in his life. He said he felt like a little grape just getting ready to be crushed. He said he was so terrified from the sound that he would never forget it and would never want anyone to hear it. He told me if it had hit him, he was done.
Q: What drives you crazy?
A: Bad music and the news. I hate it when they play music I just don't know or just don't like. I hate that. I keep changing the channels. The other thing is that I hate to watch the news. It's all bad news, everything is depressing. I would rather watch the Discovery Channel or the Learning Channel.
If you could ask any Devil Ray any question, what would it be? Let us know. Send it to:
Sports Department/Shortstops Q
St. Petersburg Times
P.O. Box 1121
St. Petersburg, FL 33731
Don't forget to include your name, address, age and phone number.