10 Questions with Scott Mathieson, throwing Giant strikes for Youmuri
* RP Scott Mathieson, who pitched for his father Doug Mathieson‘s Langley Blaze and was a part of the class of 2002, Canada’s best ever (Joey Votto, Adam Loewen, Jeff Francis) is closing for the Yomuri Giants ….
By Clayton Richer
The famous song words of Canadian country folk legend Stompin’ Tom Connors “I’ve been everywhere man” would definitely apply to Canadian pitcher Scott Mathieson. Mathieson was born in Vancouver, which unbeknownst to him would be the starting point of a baseball journey that would lead him across Canada, the United States and eventually the Yomuri Giants based in Bunkyo, Toyko, Japan.
Mathieson was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 17th round of the 2002 amateur baseball draft out of Aldergrove Community Secondary School. Mathieson would make his major league debut with the Phillies in the 2006 earning his first major league win that season.
Mathieson would endure three serious injuries including two Tommy John surgeries which would keep Mathieson sidelined from 2007 to 2009. Mathieson would return the the major leagues making appearances for the Phillies in both 2010 and 2011 in a bullpen role.
During the off-season leading into the 2012 season Mathieson would agree to a contract with the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional League taking his talents to Japan. As I write this Mathieson is enjoying a successful rookie season in Japan posting a 2-0 record with a miniscule era of 1.65 in 25 appearances.
Regardless of where the next chapter of Mathieson’s baseball career takes him his Canadian roots are not forgotten and the pride of Aldergrove, British Columbia will always be known to fans as the Canadian Giant.
Scott Mathieson INTERVIEW:
1. You have represented Canada on a number of different levels, what is it like playing with the maple leaf on your chest and your proudest International moment?
Words cant describe how great it is to play for your country. Regardless of where I live I will always be proud to be Canadian and it is an honor to be able to play for my country. As a team beating team USA in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 was a memorable moment.
2. You pitched a scoreless inning during the infamous Canadian upset over the United States in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. What do you remember from the game and the experience itself?
The World Baseball Classic was a great experience. I was honored to be a part of the inaugural game. When I watch it on tv from now on I will know I was priveledged enough to play in the first WBC.
3. What was the greatest obstacle growing up in Canada and what advice do you have for aspiring Canadian baseball players?
The greatest obstacle playing baseball in Canada is probably the hockey culture. It is easy to find hockey leagues year round and you can play anywhere. Playing baseball is a little harder. In grade 8 I had to choose baseball over hockey because I did not have time to fully dedicate myself to both. I think baseball’s popularity is increasing in Canada and there is an increase in guys getting drafted.
4. You earned your first Major League win against the St.Louis Cardinals in 2006. What do you recall about the start and what was your final stat line?
I was excited to get the opportunity to pitch in the new stadium in St Louis. My wife’s parents were able to attend the game and it was nice to have family see my first MLB win.
5. You are in your first season with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japan Central League. What has the experience been like and how are you getting accustomed to life in Japan.
I thought the transition to a new team and country would be difficult but the Giants have made everything so easy for me. I have a translator at the field that helps me and some of the players speak English. There are also 3 other Americans. Since I am in Tokyo many people speak English. I feel like I am in a big city, not necessarily another country. The Giants helped get everything set up for me when I got here so I was able to focus on baseball. The game is different here but I am happy to have this opportunity.
6. You currently sport a 0.53 era in 14 relief appearances for the Giants. What is the biggest difference between baseball in Japan compared to North America?
I am getting an opportunity to pitch and show that I can play at a high level of baseball. Baseball in Japan is a lot more small ball and emphasis on fundamentals. Hitters here have more contact with single and double contact, whereas at home you have more guys that are a power threat.
7. What pitches do you throw and what is your “out pitch “and what type of velocity do your pitches hover around?
I have been throwing a fastball, curveball, slider and split. I use my fastball and split finger mostly as my out pitches. My fastball sits at 95-96 mph and tops out at 98-99mph.
8. You have had three surgeries on your right elbow including Tommy John surgery twice which have resulted in extensive rehab. How challenging physically and mentally was that on you and how is the elbow now?
It is like anything in life, the more time passes the more you forget how bad things were. The surgeries were tough both physically and mentally. Trying to stay positive was difficult at times. I remember several days not wanting to go to the field for rehab, or after Spring Training watching everyone leave for season and I had to stay to finish rehabbing. I remember thinking I just wanted to pitch in the Major Leagues again. I wanted to know that I could make it back from the surgeries and not have to look back on my career and wonder “what if I hadn’t gotten hurt.” I try to look on the bright side as much as possible and although I am not happy I got hurt and went through what I did I believe everything I have gone through has made me the player and person I am today.
9. What is the one facet of your game you think you need to improve to make it back to the Major Leagues or is the goal to remain in Japan for the remainder of your career?
At this point I don’t know what my long term goal is. I am really enjoying my time in Japan and enjoy playing here and would love to play here for a while. The game is very different here but I feel like I am adapting well and able to compete here. Many people assume that baseball in Japan is not as good as it is in the US. That is not the case. It is a different game but still a high caliber of baseball. One thing I have learned from my surgeries is that it is good to have goals but don’t try predicting the future of your career. I never would have thought I would be playing in Japan. Baseball is a unpredictable ride and I am looking forward to seeing what it has in store for me in the future.
10. What players did you grow up idolizing or attempted to emulate growing up in Canada, and who is the most talented Canadian player you have played with?
I grew up watching the Seattle Mariners so guys like Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey were some of my favorite players growing up. I have played with many talented Canadians and it is hard to pick the most talented out of the bunch. As you know there are more superstars now that are Canadian and it is hard to pick the most talented.