C.J. Wilson, a Southern California native, enjoyed the best season of his young career in 2007, posting a 3.30 ERA, a 2-1 record and 12 saves in 14 chances for the Rangers.
Few players pack as much into their spare time as Wilson, whose many interests include technology, blogging on two different sites, making videos, gaming and various adventure sports. Wilson, who also dabbles in marketing, recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: You've often been described as a free spirit. Is that a fair/good description?
Wilson: I'm pretty open-minded and I'm pretty unconventional. Being described as a free spirit pretty much makes sense to me. I also see myself as a stable person and I try and be myself every day, no matter the situation. Going through the Tommy John surgery with everything coming into question -- "Will I pitch again? Will I throw as hard as I used to?" -- put that ability to a challenge and I think I handled it well. I took it as an opportunity to get myself mentally ready, so it was probably one of the best things that happened to me.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Tommy John surgery was one of the best things to happen to you?
Wilson: I got to go home early that summer and do a little cliff jumping and swimming in the ocean. I was terrified of heights, so I challenged myself and found out there's really no better cure than jumping off a 65-foot rock into the ocean. After I'd jumped -- which has an adrenaline rush like bungee jumping, where you're sort of confronted with your own mortality -- I realized that a runner at third base is not that big a deal. Things like that teach you about yourself. Putting myself to challenges and overcoming them enhances my ability as a pitcher. I've overcome a lot -- a stress fracture in my back, a knee problem, torn elbow and a broken hand -- so I'm not going to let runners on base take away my focus.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You're from Southern California and you have a reputation for being laid back. Do those two things go hand in hand?
Wilson: Growing up on the West Coast, you get a particular state of mind because of the weather. Being around the beach and the great weather gives you a mild temperament. It's very helpful, and in baseball, I can go back to that. There are so many ups and downs, and in baseball, you strive for consistency. The best players are the most consistent players. Having a consistent mind-set helps you improve and compete without going crazy.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How did you come about your decision to relocate from Southern California to Texas full-time?
Wilson: I'd lived back home the past couple of offseasons, but I decided last winter that I was going to have to divorce the Pacific Ocean for a move to Dallas. Kameron Loe and I bought a condo downtown and I really like living in Dallas full-time. I've lived in L.A., Newport Beach, San Diego -- up and down the coast -- but Dallas is the only other place I could see myself living. It's a great place. I love Dallas.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Loe has a pet boa constrictor. How do you feel about that?
Wilson: The snake isn't an issue for me. I got used to it in 2005 because we lived together then when we got called up. The snake is a little weird because it doesn't really do anything. It doesn't bark or scratch the glass. It just sits there. It has no personality.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have a history of surfing a lot. How is the surf in Big D?
Wilson: I will surf in Dallas in some sort of mental exercise. But it's true, there aren't many waves going on. I did get into the water there during the All-Star break last year and that was kind of cool. I miss all the waves during the summer, but I still hit them with buddies when I come back to California for family stuff or holidays.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You're also known as a big tech guy. True?
Wilson: I love my computers and my video games. I was really excited for Playstation 3 to come out. When you think about those idiots in line arriving at the store at 6 a.m. and getting in line, picture me. Since I was a little kid, I've been into technology. I have three iPods and four computers. I'm always multitasking and juggling my technology.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You also are active on MySpace, right?
Wilson: Yes, I signed up four years ago with my friends, and I'm thinking about starting a baseball-related page. I get a lot of people hitting me up for baseball advice or asking for tickets and weird stuff like that. Being in the Minor Leagues, it was a great way to stay in touch. When you're in the big leagues, though, everybody calls you.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What are you better at -- pitching or discovering the latest in technology?
Wilson: I'm a better pitcher, but I even use my tech ability to my advantage in pitching. Josh Frasier is our video coordinator and he's put the team's video system on my hard drive. When people ask why I was better this year, it's because I spent all of last offseason looking at video. I looked at my video, video of the hitters, and it gave me a real good chance to prepare myself. When you're a rookie, you have an advantage because the hitters haven't seen you. Then you try and develop a game plan before they get to know you. I use the technology to make me a better pitcher.
I also use baseball video games. They show the hitter's cold zone and stuff like that. I heard Johan Santana of the Twins does that, too. I'm going to use anything, technology included, to help get hitters out. I will surf the Internet and look at guys' spray charts and whatnot. I will go to MLB.com and all of the fantasy sports reports. They tell me who is hot. That's what it's all about -- gaining that little extra insight. A better plan helps maximize your abilities. Being prepared is key.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Growing up in Orange County, what sports or sports teams did you follow?
Wilson: I was an Angels fan. I liked the 49ers. I loved Chuck Finley and Mark Langston. It's sort of cool cause now I get to pitch where they pitched. I have come full circle.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Being from Orange County, what did you think of the TV show, "The O.C."?
Wilson: Whenever I missed an episode, I would put my hands over my ears when I heard people talk about it. Then I waited for the DVD to come out.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Growing up an Angels fan, what do you think of "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?"
Wilson: Awful. You cannot have a prepositional phrase in the name of the team. You cannot do it and it doesn't make sense. How about the O.C. Angels? Or the SoCal Angels? Maybe it's a marketing thing, maybe it's easier to type in Los Angeles on Google, but the bottom line is that Los Angeles is 45 minutes north. That's like calling us the Houston Rangers.
MLBPLAYERS.com: In college in Southern California, you had a lot of success as a hitter. Could that translate to this level if they let you have a bat in your hand?
Wilson: I've always made it very clear that I would love to have a chance at an at-bat. One of the most exciting moments of my life came in 2005 when I was on deck in Miami. It was a blowout game and I was in the pitcher's spot. They pinch-hit for me, but for a few minutes there with Rick Helling on the mound, I was telling myself that I was going to take him deep. I asked Orel Hershiser, our pitching coach then, for just one at-bat because that had always been my dream. When I go home in the winter, though, I hit with all of my friends. I love hitting. I also tried to convince management that I could play the outfield after I had my arm surgery.
Jeff Moeller, a freelance writer for MLBPLAYERS.com, is based in Los Angeles. MLBPLAYERS.com is the official Web site of the Major League Baseball Players Association. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.