After spending eight seasons inÃ‚Â the New York Mets organization, Josh Satin signed with the Cincinnati Reds on November 20 of last year. A California native, Satin starred for the University of California, Berkeley, garnering All-American honors before being drafted by the Mets in the sixth round of the 2008 draft. A career .299/.395/.457 hitter in the minors, the 30-year-old Satin has spent parts of four seasons in the majors, recording a slash of .243/.346/.351 with 21 extra-base hits in 292 major-league plate appearances.
Satin has spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Louisville, where he’s played first base, third base, and left field. Unfortunately, Satin hasÃ‚Â missed time this year with a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. On the field, Satin has hit .274/.367/.406 with a .773 OPS in 209 plate appearances.
I caught with Satin earlier this week. Among other things, we chatted about his longtime friendship with Brennan Boesch; his first call-up to the majors; why he has such poor stolen base percentage in the minors; the toughest pitchers heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faced; and his mother co-owning a store with Howie MandelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife.
RN: As of Monday morning, you guys are 41-43 on the season despite the Reds continually raiding the team to replace injured or released players. What has it been like with the constantÃ‚Â roster turnover?
JS: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been cool, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good group of guys. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been an interesting year for me; IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve missed a lot of time with an injury. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always exciting playing at Triple-A when guys are getting constantly called up, it gives you an opportunity. Trying to get in the groove of the team hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been as easy, but every guy that gets sent down here has done well and has been able to contribute. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a pretty good year so far.
RN: This is your first year with the Reds organization. Was it tough leaving the Mets, the only organization you had ever known up until this past winter?
JS: Yeah, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always tough leaving your comfort zone and I knew everyone around there — the players, management, and the coaches. But, so far so good (with the Reds). EveryoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been real inviting and helpful. It was tough at first because I missed so much time; when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re with a new organization, you want to make a good impression. Now that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been healthy and am able to play, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a good experience.
RN: I read that you played high school and college ball with Brennan Boesch. Is that right?
RN: WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s it been like to play with him once again?
JS: ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been one of the coolest things. Brennan and I are real close, and we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really played together or against each other in years, probably since 2005 (at the University of California). We played a little bit against each other last year, but not too much. Being able to play together has been awesome. He knows me better than anyone else in the game. We feed off of each other pretty well, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been great.
RN: Did you and Brennan grow up together, or did you meet in high school?
JS: We met in high school. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one of my best friends. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to be in his wedding; he was in mine. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve built a pretty tight friendship. And baseball-wise, in the offseason we do almost everything together. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been pretty really cool to be together and see each other play. We can help each other out when things arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going right.
RN: You played in a World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament in 2012 for Team Israel. Brad Ausmus was your manager, and that was before he got the Tigers job seemingly out of nowhere. What was it like playing for Ausmus?
JS: We only played four games, but it was great. We had a really cool coaching staff. It was (Ausmus), Gabe Kapler, Mark Loretta (and Shawn Green) — guys with significant big league time and big league success. All those guys…I spent the week that we were there trying to soak up everything they said — going to dinner with them, talking with them, and just learning what it took from them to succeed at the highest level.
Brad was awesome. Obviously, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a very knowledgeable guy. He was in the big leagues for years and knows the game really well. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not surprising to me that he got a managing job. It was surprising that he got it so fast, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not surprising that he got a job and has done well.
RN: You see that often these days, guys without managing experience getting big league jobs right away. Ausmus has done it. Mike Matheny has done it.
JS: It seems like a lot of them are catchers. It seems like those guys have a full grasp of the game. As position players, we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t usually have a grasp of the pitching side of the game, but catchers do. It really helps as a manager to see both sides.
RN: Changing gears a bit, do you remember where you were and what your emotions were like when you got your first call to the big leagues?
JS: Yeah, it was in Buffalo in 2011. I kind of knew it was coming, but youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re never sure. It was September 1st, and in New York the media is crazy so everything gets out real fast. There was a lot of talk about me going up, but you never really know until it happens.
The manager (of the Buffalo Bisons, the MetsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Triple-A affiliate) at the time was Tim Teufel, who is now the MetsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ third base coach. We had been together off and on my whole career. He moved up the chain — A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A — and I kind of moved up with him for the most part. He knew how much work I put in and how it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always easy for me to get to that point. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a bona fide prospect that everyone was like, Ã¢â‚¬ËœThis guy is a big leaguer, for sure.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ It was a lot of time and effort that I put in and that (Teufel) put in with me. I remember when he called me, and it was just one of those moments…he almost felt it as much as I did because he had seen the process. It was one of my better experiences in baseball.
RN: Have you seen the The Rookie with Dennis Quaid? When I think of guys getting called up, the scene in the movie when Quaid gets called up is what I imagine it is like.
JS: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a crazy thing because youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re so happy to be there, so in awe of everything. But you learn that you have to quickly tune that out and play the game, or your stay is going to be short. For me, I was so happy and almost star-struck at first to be at Citi Field in New York. You have to quickly erase that and go play the game like you always have, because thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the only way youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to be successful.
RN: After all, it is your job at that point to stay in the big leagues.
RN: Are you one of those guys that wants to play baseball as long as your body holds up, or do you have any idea of what you want to do after your playing days are over?
JS: I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really thought much about it. I definitely want to stay in the game as long as possible, and after IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m done, stay in the game in some capacity. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve put so much into this game for my whole life, I just canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t imagine not being in the game. I have a degree, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just…I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know. This game has been my life for so long that it would be strange to do something else. I want to play as long as possible and be a part of the game for as long as possible.
RN: I was looking through your stats, and have to ask — and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean to bust your chops here — but I see you have 10 career steals in the minors, but also 23 caught stealings. Is that a function of speed or bad jumps?
JS: I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really steal, so most of those caught stealings are (failed) hit-and-runs. I never really steal. I honestly donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even know how I got 10 steals. But none of the caught stealings are me taking off and getting caught; it was a hit-and-run or something like that. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not really part of my game — no would ever confuse me for Billy (Hamilton). I pride myself on base running and going first to third, but stealing bases isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really my thing.
RN: People who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t follow the game that closely might assume that every player thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fast is probably a good base runner and vice versa. Scott Rolen was one of the best base runners IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen, and no one would ever mistake him for a speed demon. He just knew where he was going at all times.
RN: Who is the toughest pitcher youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever faced?
JS: I faced Roy Halladay in his heyday. He wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to strike you out — or I mean he was — but he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like a guy that you said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœMan, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to strike me out.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ You just couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t square Roy up.
Closers in this day and age are never easy. I faced Craig Kimbrel when I was in New York. He was never fun. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve faced (Aroldis) Chapman three or four times. That wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fun. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so many good pitchers. Chris Sale. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always tough.
When I was in the big leagues, most of my starts were against left-handers. I faced the Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee types all the time. Those guys are obviously tough. One left-hander IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never faced is Clayton Kershaw. I would like to face him. He got scratched when we were playing them in 2013. I would face guys like Matt Harvey in spring training; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to compare anyone to him. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second to none in my mind, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never faced him in a real game. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d assume heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be better then.
RN: When you face top pitchers like that, do you noticeably change your approach if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a Ã¢â‚¬ËœnameÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ guy?
JS: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one of those things where you have to block out the name. When I first got called up, one of my first starts came against Roy Halladay. I was like, Ã¢â‚¬ËœS—, this is Roy Halladay.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ And that did not doÃ‚Â me any good because I was in awe of him. When I got later on in my career and I was playing a lot and up (in the majors) the whole year (in 2013), you kind of…you change your approach based on their stuff, but the name doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t and shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where you have to become a professional and imagine heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just like any other guy. You have to be short and early to the fastball and see the ball.
RN: This is completely off the grid, but I saw something interesting on your Wikipedia page — and who knows whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s accurate and whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not on those pages sometimes, so I wanted to ask you about it. Is it true your mother co-owns or at one time co-owned a store with Howie MandelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife?
JS: ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true.
RN: WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the connection there?
JS: When I was in elementary school, HowieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s daughter and I used to be best friends. My parents and her parents became really close. Over the years — my mom is kind of a fashionable lady — and she wanted to (open a store) and needed some financial backing. HowieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife was in, and so they did it together for like 15 years. They actually recently just sold the business because theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re kind of getting older and want more free time.
This interview has been edited.