Former Kentucky Wildcats baseball player Luke Maile recently spoke with Wildcat Blue Nation. After being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays, the catcher/first baseman was assigned to the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks for joining Wildcat Blue Nation today. How are things treating you in Hudson Valley?
Luke Maile: So far, I’m good, man. We’re 3-1, got a good pitching staff, and a lot of good teammates so it’s a good environment.
Daniel Solzman: Can you talk about what it means to finish up your Kentucky career and get drafted by the Rays?
Luke Maile: Well, it meant a lot to have a winning season this year and have a competitive team, which the last two years have been kind of bittersweet. It’s always been fun there with a good environment, good coaches, and good people. But to have a winning season like we did kind of tops off my career. It was really meaningful and I couldn’t be happier being with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Daniel Solzman: A few weeks ago, Kentucky played Kent State in a 21 inning game and it was not even televised. What goes through your mind as the game drags on?
Luke Maile: Well, the first thing was that I wish I wasn’t injured and wasn’t a part of the last 12 innings. My spot came up at least 5 times. A couple of times with guys on base so it really hurt. That was kind of tough for me personally but what was going through my mind was I was just trying to get a win. Outcompete them, out fight them. You know I thought we did a great job overall. We didn’t get the breaks that we needed so we didn’t come through when we needed to but it was one hell of a game.
Daniel Solzman: I know it’s still early but what is Jared Sandberg like as a manager?
Luke Maile: Jared is outstanding. He’s very business-like but he’s not cut-throat type of manager like I’ve heard about from other guys that have played professional baseball. He’s very laid back for the most part but he’s really about the guys on the team. He wants us to get better. He works with everybody personally…on a day to day basis. For me, I’ve learned a lot in the last week or so and I think I’m going to learn some stuff from him so he’s very knowledgeable and a great guy to play for.
Daniel Solzman: What about batting coach Dan DeMent? Has he given you any pointers?
Luke Maile: Well, I think the Rays have a 30 day policy with their hitters. They’re not allowed to really instruct them at all. They just want to let us do our things for the first 30 games and then they start to get with us on a need-to-know basis. As a baseball man, Dan is outstanding. He knows a lot about things but he teaches more about hitting philosophy as good as anybody I’ve ever been with. The whole coaching staff is just an incredible group of guys to work with and he’s no exception.
Daniel Solzman: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Luke Maile: Growing up, being a Reds guy, I liked Barry Larkin a lot. When Benito Santiago played for the Reds, I was a big Benito guy. I liked watching him throw from his knees and he’d kinda jumped through all his quirky things that…that was really was really fun. I’ve always been a Cincinnati Reds guy. Hometown team so I went to a lot of home games growing up. When Votto started coming up, I was a big fan of him and still am. So it’s fun to watch.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us and good luck with your career. Any final words for Big Blue Nation?
Luke Maile: Just hope we can handle next season with football, guys. I’ll be rooting them on. Michael and I both will. Can’t wait for basketball season to start up. I’ll be concentrating on baseball.