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10 questions with A.J. Sager

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10 questions with A.J. Sager

By DAVE HACKENBERG BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

A.J. Sager is in his ninth season as a Detroit Tigers minor league pitching coach, his third with the Toledo Mud Hens. After a two-sport, hall-of-fame career at the University of Toledo, where he played quarterback in football and pitched for the baseball team, Sager pitched professionally for 12 seasons. He made it to the big leagues with three teams — San Diego in 1994, Colorado in 1995, and Detroit in parts of three seasons (1996-98). His pro record was 85-77 with 13 saves. Prior to joining the Mud Hens staff, Sager spent several offseasons as a radio color commentator for UT football. He resides in Perrysburg with wife Dana and daughter Emersyn, 7.

1. After 12 years pitching professionally, what led you to a coaching career? I turned down three or four opportunities to coach right after retiring as a player because I was tired of the travel. Two years later, the Tigers called and said they were asking one last time. The timing was right, so I accepted. 2. Who is your favorite athlete to watch in another sport? Well, it’s not a specific athlete as much as a position. I’d say any really good NFL quarterback because it’s an incredibly tough job underextreme pressure. 3. OK, here’s a memory check for you. Who was the first major league batter you faced with the Padres in ’94 and what was the outcome? I vaguely remember (laughing) striking out Terry Pendleton on a 3-2 backdoor slider that was three inches outside with Bruce Froemming umpiring behind the plate in the eighth inning. 4. With your family residing in Perrysburg, can you imagine a better job than being with the Mud Hens? Well, there are 30 major league teams, so this is the 31st best job I could have. My family is certainly a big part of that. But look at the facilities we have and the way the fans support our team. I drive maybe seven or eight miles after the game and sleep in my own bed. That’s pretty unusual for a job in this sport. 5. Since it’s easy to turn an off night into a date night with your wife, where would you go to dinner and what would you order? My favorite is Mancy’s Blue Water Grille. Dana usually persuades me to keep it healthy and ordereither walleye or mahi-mahi. 6. Does anybody ever call you Anthony Joseph? Only nurses. Don’t ask. 7. If you could trade places with anyone for 24 hours, who would it be? I guess it would be my daughter, Emersyn, so I could check and see what kind of job I’m doing as a dad. 8. What’s your favorite baseball movie of all time? Bull Durham. I was in the minors, in low [Class] A ball when it came out, and it was a pretty accurate account of life at that level. <b>9. What was your reaction the first time you saw Fifth Third Field? That it was the best minor league ballpark I had seen. And, trust me, I have seen plenty of them. 10. If a fourth character, let’s call him A.J.Sagertooth, was added to the “star races” at FifthThird Field, do you think it would be wise to let Jim Flealand win? It may be in my best professional interests to let Jim win, but I really don’t like to lose.

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