It was about 95 degrees this past Thursday, June 21st, when Brandon Nimmo finished up batting practice and perched on the edge of the dugout to talk to me. His teammates had all found refuge in the clubhouse, but Nimmo sat with a posture that indicated no bother or hurry. As he answered questions, he smiled and chuckled and, at times, peered thoughtfully through his Oakley sunglasses toward center field. The nineteen-year-old slugger is, from all appearances, an exceptionally friendly and earnest kid.
AA: So how's it going?
BN: Very good, it's going very good right now. Only been down here five or six days.
AA: Not too much like [your home state of] Wyoming, huh?
BN: No, not too much like Wyoming. Lot more buildings, lot more people. Everything, everything is different.
AA: Seen much of the city yet?
BN: I came down to New York when I went and hit in Citi Field so I got to see some of the sights then, but right now the only things I've seen are... I don't even know the name of the bridge we went over...
AA: The Brooklyn Bridge?!
BN: No, to get over to Staten Island.
AA: The Verazzano Bridge!
BN: The Verazzano Bridge!
AA: Nice bridge, right?
BN: Yes, very nice. And then, just the subway system. Rode that a few times and back. Obviously the delis. The pizza places.
AA: The food compares favorably to out west?
BN: Yes, the delis are very, very good here. A lot better. Obviously, Nathan's hot dogs; you gotta have that. And at some point we'll make our way to see the Cyclone and Coney Island. But right now it's just been deli shops, subway trains, pizza, and hot dogs.
AA: It must be fun to come to a city -- and borough -- where people have their eyes squarely on baseball.
BN: Yes, yes, it's so much fun. They have such great fan support here which makes it so fun and exciting to come out every night and play. To have that fan support where they focus on baseball, it brings a lot of pressure but also a lot of excitement to it, too.
Traci Rubin, from Inside Pitch Online, joins us and chimes in: How do you feel you've been able to get accustomed to this type of life compared to what you've experienced in baseball in the past?
BN: It's a little different. It takes a lot longer to get to the field and get back, so you have to plan for it. In baseball everything is a routine. And you try to do the same routine every day. So to get that routine you have to be on a little longer schedule, plan out some places to eat along the way. In baseball you never want to be full, you never want to be hungry. You always want to be eating something, because you've got to keep the weight on. I mean, it's 97 degrees today! So we're sweating it out. You've just gotta plan out a little bit better. In Wyoming, everything's spread out; there's no traffic or anything.
AA: It's gotta be a hard on-field adjustment, too. I mean, you're not going to hit .500 anymore...
BN: Right, that's the biggest adjustment, is dealing with failure. And that's what they tell you beforehand and you think you know what you're getting into, but you don't. Wanting to produce and not being able to do it sometimes is the hardest part, especially for athletes that get to this level. They're so competitive, and so used to success. Back in Legion ball, I got out one-out-of-every-two times, or a little bit better than that. So going to where, now, if you get a hit three-out-of-ten times you're really, really good, it's a big adjustment. And you've got to scale it to where, OK, I just need to go up every time to get that good at-bat... because, you can try your hardest some days and not get a hit. And you can lace balls and it'll go right at them. And that's the tough part, learning how to deal with that. It's really that mental part that everyone talks about, to come to the plate mentally-ready every time.
AA: And it's a marathon, minor league baseball in general. After the hoopla of the draft and the signing...
BN: It all comes at you at 100 miles-an-hour right at the beginning, and then, after that, it's a marathon. But you've got to come ready to play every day. There are little sprints that you have to get your mind prepared for every day. But in the long term you've got to have your mind ready to go from February until September.
AA: And in another sense, you've gotta have your mind ready for the next three, four years.
BN: Yes, yes. So it's a very different type of thinking and adjustment, but one I think I'm handling well and learning about all the time.
Traci Rubin: Where do you see yourself in five years?
BN: You know, in this game there are a lot of unknowns. I hope... and where I want to be... is Citi Field, playing for the Mets. But a lot of things can happen along that way, not just baseball-wise. It can happen injury-wise, and that can set you back. There's a lot of unknowns. That's where I hope to be, but we can't put that in stone.
AA: Been a center fielder your whole life?
BN: Yeah. Obviously when you're young you play shortstop, pitcher, everything, but when I got to high school I went to the outfield, played right field my freshman year, and then took over center field my sophomore year and been there ever since.
AA: The Willie Mays catch in the '54 World Series... would you have made that?
BN: Hahaha, that's a solid catch!
AA: I think the wall at the Polo Grounds was 485 or something?
BN: Oh, I know. It was ridiculous. That game... I mean, you don't notice, but there were a lot of things back then that were so different. About 485, that's... my God.
AA: Any center field heroes? We do love Beltran in this town.
BN: Beltran... he's great, he's great. Obviously I caught the back end of his career but Ken Griffey Jr. was one I really liked. There's always those great catches that you see... Jim Edmonds... that catch was amazing when he was diving over his head, basically Willie-Mays style, but diving. And so, I appreciate all center fielders that give 100% and lay out their bodies on the line.
AA and Traci: Thanks a lot, Brandon. We'll see you around!
BN: Ok, nice to meet you! Thank you!