Q&a -- Todd Williams

March 02, 2007|By ROCH KUBATKO

The Orioles re-signed reliever Todd Williams on Jan. 12 after not tendering him a contract over the winter. He led the staff with 62 appearances last season. The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Williams in the 54th round in 1990, then traded him to the Oakland Athletics five years later for pitcher Matt McDonald. Williams didn't spend a full season in the majors until 2005. He was the closer on the 2000 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic baseball team.

How does a 54th-round draft pick reach the majors? -- I was actually a draft-and-follow. The next year I had a really good year in college and they said I would have gone anywhere from the eighth to the 13th round. Who knows? Being 54th, you've just got to try to impress somebody early. I did some good things the first couple years of playing and I moved up quick. I don't know if that benefited me.

Where's Matt McDonald now? -- I didn't even know where he was the year after that. I guess he was a left-hander. I didn't hear much about him even after that year. We had a bunch of young guys make the team that year and I was probably the fourth or fifth guy traded out of the organization within that year.

What did you do over the winter to improve your conditioning? -- I hooked up with a doctor last year who has his own clinic, a members-only thing. We had a plan going into the offseason and he hooked me up with a personal trainer. She works at my gym in Tampa. Between going to her three times a week and going to the gym and doing spin classes and other classes that I didn't think were tough, but kicked my butt, I was hurting all winter. And the diet was another thing. That was probably the biggest struggle. By the time I got to spring training, I was a totally different person.

What would be the bigger thrill, winning a gold medal or a World Series? -- I argue this with guys. I'm going to say the gold medal. It was the experience of a lifetime. I know guys who won the World Series who say the same thing, but I also know guys who say they would trade it for a gold medal. There's only a certain amount of time when you can get a gold medal. The World Series, as long as you play, you always have a chance to get there.

When you had 222 career saves in the minors by 2005, most among active players, did you feel like a pitching version of Crash Davis? -- I had a lot of people tell me about it. I don't think much of it. I think I'll be prouder of it in my later years when I look back on it. It's good and bad. You don't want to have those records because you don't want to be in Triple-A, but what am I supposed to do if I'm in Triple-A and I'm closing? Am I supposed to be bad? Quit? I think it's a good thing as a whole. I can be proud because I did as good as I could in that situation.

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