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5 questions with a camp hopeful

Posted Feb 23, 2010 by Tribune Sports

Updated Feb 23, 2010 at 08:13 PM

PORT CHARLOTTE - Our five questions with a Rays player for Wednesday’s Tribune is with a pitcher who isn’t on the 40-man roster and probably won’t break camp with the team but has an interesting story nevertheless.

Meet 26-year-old R.J. Swindle, whom the Rays signed to a minor league contract last November. The lefty appeared in three games for the Phillies in 2008 and six for the Brewers last year and finished last season with with Triple-A Columbus (Indians).

Five questions with R.J. Swindle:

Q How does a player from Vancouver make it to the brink of the major leagues?

A “I actually grew up in Orlando. I was home-schooled, but I was able to play at University Christian, a 6A school. I actually got my number retired within the last few months. I was pretty good in high school, tops in the county in ERA and all that stuff. So I was able to get a college scholarship out of it (from Charleston Southern).”

Q Are both of your parents Canadian?

A “Neither. My dad grew up just south of the border in Bellingham, Wash., and he had a sister up there, so they were living close to them. He was actually working as a lumberjack in the foothills of the Vancouver mountains, looking for a job. He’s an engineer now. My mom grew up in Cocoa Beach.”

Q So you don’t have any extra interest in the Vancouver Olympics?

A “Well, I played in the last one (pitched for Team Canada in the Beijing Games), so I’m pretty interested. I had some buddies that were part of the torch lighting ceremony, so I’ve been pretty glued to it, just from having been part of the Olympic experience.”

Q Who is your favorite major-league pitcher of all-time?

A “Well, I got to talk to him, so I’d say Jamie Moyer. With my dad being from up near Seattle, we watched when he pitched for the Mariners. And then I actually got to play with him a little in Philly (briefly in 2008). I’d say he’s pretty high up there with me being a soft lefty and seeing what he’s been able to do his whole career.”

Q What would you drive if you could afford any car?

A “A real top-of-the-line BMW is what I always thought I would like. I have a Tahoe (SUV) now, but I always had junky cars up until this last season.”

Tony Fabrizio

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