This is the first installment of our new “Road to the Show” feature here on our blog. We will be getting exclusive player interviews from players working their way up through the system here in Lowell. Look for “Road to the Show” throughout the rest of the season.
Recently I had a chance to sit down with Kason Gabbard, former Red Sox and Texas Ranger. Gabbard made his major league debut on July 22, 2006 against the Seattle Mariners. Due to his success with Boston, he was traded along with David Murphy and Engel Beltre to Texas for Eric Gagne on July 31, 2007. Gabbard was originally drafted out of high school in 2000 and worked his way up through the Red Sox system before making it to the majors. Gabbard currently finds himself in Lowell, trying to work his way back up to the majors. In the majors he is 9-7 with a 4.53 ERA in 34 games.
You worked your way up through the Red Sox system, what was it like when you finally got the call to the majors and what was it like making your first start, also what was life like in the majors?
I started off in the Gulf Coast League, I actually never played at this level so this is my first time playing in this league. Early on I had a couple of bumps in the road when I got hurt and had to have a few surgeries. I worked to come back from those and even though it wasn’t easy, I always believed in myself. I was in Portland a few years, then finally got up to Pawtucket and eventually the Sox in 2006. Right now I’m trying to find my mechanics here in Lowell and work my way back up to the bigs.
In terms of my first major league start, just knowing how hard I worked to get to that point, to make my first big league start, I was glad to get the opportunity. The first thing I did was call up my family to let them know. I remember RJ (Ron Johnson) the manager down in Pawtucket telling me to hang around, that he couldn’t tell me for sure, but something might happen. Next thing I know I got scratched from my start and I was on a plane to Seattle. It was just amazing.
My time in the bigs was amazing. I was really spoiled coming up through the Sox system, playing with so many great players and having such great coaches. Even in Texas, I played with a bunch of great guys, I really can’t wait to get back to the bigs.
You played with Jarrod Saltalamacchia in High School, can you describe what Jarrod was like and the type of player he was?
I’ve known Jarrod ever since I can remember, our fathers were firefighters together, we grew up together and I played lots of ball with him and his older brother. Our moms took turns babysitting us and in high school he was a freshman when I was a senior. I think he caught me a couple of times, it was such a weird coincidence that we got traded to Texas on the same day. Jarrod is a great player, he’s really just starting to put it all together down there in Texas.
Who or what would you attribute your success to?
Really its just lots of hard work and believing in yourself. The Sox have a lot of great pitching coaches who have really helped me along the way and kept me going. I think the biggest thing for me was just gaining maturity and knowing that even though I don’t have overpowering stuff that I could make it in this game.
You were traded to Texas at the trading deadline in 2007, describe how you found out about the trade, and what your thoughts were?
I was scheduled to pitch the next day, so I came to the park early to look over some video and get some work in, I was going to go home after I was done but they told me to stick around. One thing led to another and I found out I was headed to Texas. I was definitely shocked, but I understood that baseball is a business. I was extremely grateful that the Red Sox gave me an opportunity to show what I could do, and I just wanted to go to Texas and continue to prove that I belonged.
While in Texas you were the winning pitcher in a game where the Rangers beat the Orioles 30-3, the most runs scored in a game in the modern era, please describe how that game was?
Crazy, that first inning was one of the craziest starts of my career. There were a few bleeder hits, I even think a ball hit off a someone’s helmet. It was really just a weird start to the game. I remember coming off the mound upset, but the next thing you know we come back and score like 7 runs. Then a few innings later we put up a ton of runs. I pitched 6, came out with a huge lead and (Wes) Littleton came in and got a 3 inning save. I remember after I came out it took something like another two and a half hours to finish the game. Once I was out it felt like it was a completely different game. Overall it was just a really cool experience, lots of homers, lots of runs, just great to watch.
How did it feel when the Red Sox reacquired you this season?
I was very thankful that the Sox still believed in me and brought me back. I had some misunderstandings down in Texas. This season they moved me to the bullpen. I really didn’t think that role was for me, I had never done it before and they were asking me to make the switch. I knew the best thing for me was to continue to start, it’s where I was comfortable and knew I could have success.
What is something about Kason Gabbard that most people don’t know?
I’m a really quiet guy, most people don’t think I am, I also like to hunt and fish a lot, other than that I just like to have a good time.
Look for our next installment featuring Shannon Wilkerson