We all heard the story of Jerome Williams last season... The 1st round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in 1999 with so much promise that seemed to blow his opportunity to play in the bigs and then with all the adversity he went through, pitching all over the place for some years, he ends up working his way back and getting called up by the Angels in August of 2011. He had a great finish to the season with the Angels, helping them stay in the race for the playoffs until the very end.
I had the opportunity to interview the very probable 5th starter for the 2012 Angels over the last week. The first half of the questions were questions that Jerome was nice enough to answer for me via my Twitter acct, @stepxen . I tried to mix in some not so normal interview questions among other things!
I started out by asking Jerome about his Twitter username, @pinkpuka57 :
1. LAAI- What does pink puka mean?
Jerome- Pink for my pink glove and Puka was my nickname with the Giants cause of my Puka shell necklace. Name was given to me by Grissom.
2. LAAI- Had to look up a Puka shell to see what it was... Do you still wear it?
Jerome- Always wear it. Never take it off.
3. LAAI- What is it about it that you hold special?
Jerome- Memory of my mother. Gave it to me before she passed in 2001 of breast cancer.
4. LAAI- Jerome, have you ever had a point in your MLB career where you felt you pitched as good, since Ångels called you up?
Jerome- Rookie year in 2003.
I asked him about when he was traded from the Giants for LaTroy Hawkins… (Coincidentally a teammate now!)
5. LAAI- How'd you feel about going to the new city you were traded to? What's initial feeling you first have when told you’re traded?
Jerome- I felt like they didn't want me but I knew then it was a business. Somebody else wants my service so just go there and do well.
6. LAAI- But like you said, someone else wants you so go there and do your best... Any special reason that you use number 57?
Jerome- My spring training number with the Giants.
7. LAAI- Your choice or theirs?
Jerome- The team.
8. LAAI- Did it just grow on you or you didn't care which number you had? Any other jersey number that you'd prefer?
Jerome- Stuck on me. Never really wanted another number.
9. LAAI- I grew up in TX & loved the Rangers as a kid, saw you were born in Hawaii, so who was your favorite team growing up?
Jerome- Never had one. Was too early or too late on tv plus I was always playing so never really watched.
10. LAAI- Oh yeah forgot about the time difference! So you had no preference on who you were drafted by when the draft happened?
Jerome- It didn't matter. I got drafted in the 1st round. So I was going to sign with any team.
After this round of questions, Jerome was nice enough to answers some more questions from me last week...
11. LAAI - What has been your most memorable moment as a player thus far in your career?
Starting in the playoffs in 2003 as a rookie.
12. LAAI- How did you like hitting in the N.L.? How’d you do at it?
JW -It was fun but scary, facing pitchers that throw hard was tough. I hit okay and learned how to sacrifice bunt better but swinging, not so much.
13. LAAI - You played with Barry Bonds… Can you share your most memorable interaction with him?
JW - One game in Arizona Casey Daigle had struck out Barry earlier in the game and Barry came into the dugout and told me that his next at bat he would hit a home run. I didn't believe him and during his next at bat which was at a 2-1 count Daigle threw a curveball and the ball landed on his picture on the jumbotron. He came into the dugout laughing and said "told you"
14. LAAI - Going back to your youth, did you ever play as a position player only or have you always pitched?
JW - Yes, my first position was 1st base, then I played Center field and was a catcher also.
15. LAAI - How are things going at Spring Training so far? Anything in particular you are trying to improve on?
JW -So far so good, I just want to work on the command of all my pitches and being focused from the first pitch to the last.
16. LAAI - Last year with the Angels you came out of the bullpen some and started games as well… This year you are slated as the 5th starter, do you prefer starting over the bullpen and why?
JW -I prefer starting but i'm up to pitching from whatever role they decide to put me in.
17. LAAI - Tell me a little about your experience in winter ball this off season…
JW -Winter ball in Venezuela was very competitive and noisy. It got me to a point where my concentration level was a lot better than before.
18. LAAI - What are your goals/expectations of the upcoming season with the Angels?
JW -Number one is to stay healthy, Number two Compete every time i'm on the mound,Number three to be a part of the best rotation in baseball, and of course to win the world series.
19.LAAI - Which of your current teammates is the funniest to be around and why?
JW -Torii Hunter because he keeps everything loose, he knows when to be serious but when he's not serious he is the funniest guy in baseball.
20. LAAI - We hear about players being superstitious, do you have any superstitions that you follow on your pitching day?
JW -Sometimes I tend to eat only certain things before I pitch, when I first got called up by the Angels I was drinking Jamba juice and eating togo's before the game that was until the start in Oakland when I gave up 5 walks after that game I switched it up.
21. LAAI - In your time away from the major leagues, what was the oddest job that you had (if you had one) and why?
JW -Never had an odd job I just kept playing baseball wherever I could.
22. LAAI - What are you using the screen saver on your cell phone?
JW -A chalkboard
23. LAAI - What is your favorite movie of all time?
JW -Above the rim
24. LAAI - How do you feel about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disneyland?!
JW -Terrified and will never go on it again. Hawaii didn't have thrill rides they just have big waves.
This interview was completed before March 2nd when Jerome suffered a left hamstring strain during a defensive drill. I can confidently say that I speak for all of Halos nation when I say this Jerome, we are all pulling for you! Get well soon!
Jerome and his wife Sarah are both on Twitter if you'd like to follow them! He's @pinkpuka57 and she is @SarWilliams81 . Give them a follow if you 'd like to keep up with them. Thanks again to Jerome and Sarah Williams and your cooperation!