KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Baseball does not always have to be taken so seriously.
Houston Astros pitching prospect Evan Grills preached this idea on his first day of spring training Monday at the team’s minor league facilities in Kissimmee, Fla.
The left-handed pitcher from Whitby, Ont., said he hopes it’s his relaxed outlook rather than being drafted by a pro squad that has the biggest impact back home.
“I tend to feel that a lot of parents think kids should play in the big leagues when they’re eight years old,” he said. “I don’t like when families take sports so seriously. Just chill out and let them have fun.”
Even with a laid back personality, Grills put up excellent statistics with the Tri-City ValleyCats last season, pitching to a 7-1 record with a 3.34 ERA in 16 appearances.
The modest Astros prospect does not believe many people back home are aware of his status as a professional athlete, but that’s okay with him, he said.
“I’m not too sure many people know who I am. I don’t know if that’s had an effect,” Grills said. “But people who I touch, like families or whoever I work with, I think I have an effect on them with how I think about life.”
The Sinclair Secondary School graduate maintains a balanced lifestyle, he said, including not devoting all of his time solely to sport.
Even as a member of a professional baseball organization, Grills makes sure to focus on his other interests, particularly his love of the arts.
“I just got a guitar for Christmas, so I’ve been ripping guitar for four or five hours a day,” said Grills. “I love music, writing, poetry, anything artistic.”
The 21-year-old cited Arthur Rimbaud, Allen Ginsberg and particularly Jim Morrison of The Doors as his favourite poets.
Even though he makes his living playing baseball, Grills said he does not devote much time off the field to watching sports.
“To be honest with you, right now I don’t even watch much sports on TV,” Grills said. “I try to get away from it as much as I can.”
There is one exception, however.
Grills professed his affection for his hometown hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, stating how he has been following the club when he can despite not being able to watch many games.
“I just moved in with my girlfriend and we don’t have cable yet,” Grills said. “But I know they’re doing good. I always say the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup because I’m just biased.”