Michael Roth and Whit Merrifield
Tommy Moody and players
Former South Carolina baseball legend and current Los Angeles Angels organization member Michael Roth attended the USC baseball pro sendoff day at Carolina Stadium on Friday. Here's what the former two-time All-American and two-time national champion had to say about life since leaving the Gamecocks, including his rapid ascent to the big leagues last year.
Gamecock Central: First, what's your schedule like right now
Michael Roth: I leave February twelfth and head out to camp, and it's full-go from there. We'll have physicals in the thirteenth, and the fourteenth, workouts start. I've been getting ready the past two weeks getting the arm back in gear, and I'm ready to go.
GC: What was your offseason like?
Roth: Short. I was kind of bouncing around. I was traveling for Thanksgiving then went overseas to visit my parents, then we went to the (Capital One) bowl game. I had a lot of fun. That was my third bowl game in a row down in Florida. We always have a great time with some friends and keep it under the radar.
GC: What was it like for you watching the Gamecocks from afar last year? Were you able to follow them?
Roth: It was cool. I followed it a little bit, mostly on Twitter and on bus rides. I can remember watching the Super Regional game and watching it with a former UNC player, Mike Morin, who is actually a good friend of mine. We were battling it out. I think I had to wear some UNC gear that next day, but I got him back when football season came around. It worked out in the end.
GC: What was it like getting the call to the majors so quickly last year?
Roth: It was unbelievable, really. To make one start in double-A (then go to the majors), I definitely wasn't expecting that. I made them show me the flight information before I really believed them.
It was a wild experience. It's kind of hard to describe my year other than to say it was crazy, flying back and forth multiple times. I learned a lot. I learned a lot about baseball, I learned a lot about myself and as a pitcher. It was a good year, a lot of fun, and hopefully I'll have one just as crazy.
I learned a lot about pitching and how to be dynamic within myself and I learned a lot about relieving. Being a starter in college and reliever in the pros is completely different. So it was definitely a learning year for me.
Question: Your first start was phenomenal - two perfect innings, four strikeouts - how amazing was that?
Roth: It was the very first day, I had an early flight. I think that's the nature of the business. It shows how much we're expected just to be prepared no matter what. Also, I think (Angels manager Mike Scioscia) just wanted to throw me into the fire to see what I had. I appreciate that. It made it to where you don't think so much, you're not getting anxious for your first start. I couldn't have drawn up a better debut with that I had and Albert (Pujols) with a walk-off double.
Qstn: From battling even to get on the mound when you first came here to pitching in the majors, that has to seem pretty surreal at times.
Roth: Yeah, it's pretty wild. I've had a good string of years here and hopefully it can keep going on.
Qstn: What memories come back when you come here?
Roth: A lot of baseball games come to my head, but the more fun was all the stupid stuff I did with the guys. All the friendships and relationships I've made, all those memories flood back along with some of the important games.
Do you have any advice on players who want to make it to the big leagues?
Roth: The best advice I can give you is to be who you are. I was lucky. I was in the right time, the right place with th Angels to get an opportunity. A lot of the things I learned up there, the game's no different. You're still throwing from the same length, the same type if field, the same dimensions. You just have to go out there and be yourself and trust what got you there in the first place.