Not two hours after finishing an interview with Tucson Saguaros sweet-slugging outfielder Adam Urbania did the text message from manager J.D. Droddy come in.
“Must have been a good interview,” it read, “Adam Urbania just hit a 2-run HR in the first inning.”
And so continues Urbania’s scorching start.
Back in baseball after collecting his thoughts following the 2015 MLB Draft, when he was spurned despite his status as a Division-II All-American for Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, Urbania is on fire. He entered Wednesday’s game against Alpine batting .442 with a team-leading five home runs and 34 RBIs for the Pecos League-leading Saguaros.
Urbania is giving his dream one last shot after spending six months as a social worker in his hometown of Cleveland. The Star talked to him Wednesday:
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So what exactly is going so right for you this season?
A: “I took a year off from playing after I graduated in 2015, and when I got the call to play in Tucson, I thought this would be the big opportunity to show people what they passed up on. My personal mentality is to get wins and try to get a championship ring. I never got a ring.”
The Saguaros have seven players batting above .300. Is this just a hitter-friendly league?
A: “Well, there is some great pitching in this league — we’ve already seen a couple guys, arms really live, in the 90s. We saw a guy in White Sands who’s been picked up. Some of us are used to playing in the snow, the cold rain, and the warm weather helps out. Yes, there are some smaller ballparks out there, compared to Kino. A lot of things play into it, but there are a lot of great hitters, no doubt about that.”
Why did you take the year off after college?
A: “After the 2015 draft, I didn’t get picked up and I thought I had a good chance. I was a little bitter. That was my mentality at the time. I kind of thought it was a sign I should move on, get adult life going. Six months into it is when I got the phone call. It took me a couple days, after talking to my family and friends. I don’t want to be 50 and look back in regret. Closure was a big thing for me. If I do well, I get an opportunity to move up; if I do badly, I had closure.”
Has this hot start changed your trajectory? Did it put a spark in your mind?
A: “The first thing I told (Droddy) when I signed here was I’m not just here for fun and games, I’m here to prove it to myself. I want to play my best to move up. My mindset has been go out there, play like no one has ever seen you play before. The numbers are great, but I don’t try to focus on them.”
What is it like to be back in the dugout, with a group of guys you share so much in common with?
A: “It’s awesome. Having the guys with the same mentality, it’s just so great. We’ve only known each other for a month, so the fact we want to go out there and grind every single game, get wins, get noticed, that means a lot.”
You were six months into a different life, a different career, and now here you are back on the road. How has the change been?
A: “That was a big adjustment at first. I’ve never been out West, my whole entire life. Did my research on Tucson, and a big contributor is our host families. It just feels like I’m back home but in a hotter state.”
What was the heat like as a newcomer?
A: “About a month or so before I came down, I started doing workouts in heavy clothes to adjust. When I got here, I preferred this heat than the heat back home. No humidity out here — I don’t mind it at all. It gets to 113, but other than that, I’ve adjusted pretty well.”