New York Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances had a breakout season in 2014. He finished with a 1.40 ERA and a 5-0 record. It has been a long road for the reliever, who will battle with Andrew Miller for the closer role this season. However, the New York City native says he's happy to be where he is. Here is ThePostGame's exclusive interview with the Betances.
ThePostGame: You’re working with Pepsi. You and Didi Gregorius are the team’s ambassadors. Why don’t you tell me a little about what you're doing with Pepsi this season?
DELLIN BETANCES: Well, we’re just filming a series of webisodes, just to give a inside look to the Yankees fan culture and to see what it’s like to play with the Yankees and in Yankee Stadium. It’s something to get the fans a little excited about.
TPG: What do you think the fans will be able to get out of this #YankeesThrill promotion?
BETANCES: It's just a good time to give them an inside look just to get that feeling and see what it's like to play in front of the best group of fans in a beautiful stadium, so it’s something that I’m tuning up. I remember last year I did the Real Big Summer campaign we had last year and it was pretty cool. I’m just excited to be working with them again just to give fans an inside look.
TPG: Do you think [you and Didi] will have fun with something like this? Do you think you’re good friends and will be able to have fun with these webisodes?
BETANCES: Yeah, definitely. I think we’re going to enjoy it and I'm just getting to know him now so it I get to know him a little better and we’ll have some fun with it. I'm excited for this opportunity.
TPG: You've been through your offseason and now you’re getting into Spring Training, so over the offseason, what did you work on specifically? How was your training over those couple of months?
BETANCES: Usually after the season is over, I take about four weeks off and I start my workouts light. Start playing catch from about 60 feet. I have a trainer that I’ve worked with the last two or three years in the city. After that, around January, I'll go to Dominican Republic to try to get away from the cold weather, especially this year in New York which is pretty brutal. I get to go to the Dominican Republic and train down there for about a month, where I get to enjoy beautiful weather and just get to play catch outside and throw off the mound and throw to hitters and stuff like that.
TPG: You had a great season last year. You're an All-Star. It was kind of like your coming-out party, so after this offseason, do you feel like you’re in better shape than you were last year? Do you think you can improve on what you did?
BETANCES: I feel great right now. Right now, I’m just focused on making sure I command my fastball to both sides of the plate. Same thing with the off-speed, just being able to throw it for a strike. I feel great to this point. I feel like last year. I’m ready for this year and I’m looking forward to doing whatever I have to do to help the team win.
TPG: Is there anything specifically that you’re targeting that you want to improve to be successful this season?
BETANCES: Just being consistent. I think that’s the key for us pitchers, you know. We get to repeat our deliveries, and our pitches will be right where they need to be. I’m sure at some point I have to make some adjustments to the hitters just like they’ll make adjustments to me. I’ll look at videos and see what I have to improve on to be successful. I’m definitely excited to start the year.
TPG: A little more about you. You grew up in New York, so this has to be a dream scenario for you. How does it feel being part of a team that you grew up watching as a kid?
BETANCES: It’s just an honor for me, every time I get to put on the uniform and play in front of my home crowd. It’s the best feeling, like I’m living my every kid's dream. Born and raised rooting for the Yankees and now being able to play for them is unbelievable. Words really can’t describe the way I feel.
TPG: How did you get to the majors from New York City?
BETANCES: I started playing baseball at the age of 10. I was born in Washington Heights and I moved to the Lower East Side when I was 10 years old and started playing baseball there. I went to high school in Brooklyn at Grand Street Campus where I was drafted at the age of 18. I remember my first big league call-up was in 2011, where I got to experience some wonderful games. I got in on a couple games. After that, it wasn’t easy to come back up. It took a lot of hard work. I remember in 2013, they switched me to a starting pitcher to a reliever and I just found my niche. [It was] something I was comfortable doing. I’ve been able to do a good job the last couple of years of being more aggressive and that’s helped me as a pitcher.
TPG: How was the transition [from a starter to a reliever]?
BETANCES: It wasn’t as tough as I thought it was going to be. I kind of just, as soon as put me out there, I was able to be more consistent with all of my pitches and kind of just found my niche at that point. It’s something I’ve enjoyed doing. Obviously, I’ve learned a lot of stuff in the last year from a bunch of the guys down there. Small stuff that helps you out, whether it’s how to warm up to get ready for the game or just having a better plan. Small stuff like that.
TPG: I heard you were at David Wells’ perfect game in the late ‘90s. Is that true?
BETANCES: Yeah, actually my godfather bought my cousins and I tickets to that game. I was able to experience that. It was pretty incredible.
TPG: Was that one of your greatest Yankee fan moments growing up?
BETANCES: That was definitely number one. At the time, I was younger, so I didn’t play baseball. I was going to be nine years old I believe. Just being there and [inaudible] to meet David Wells now. It’s pretty special for me to be at that game.
TPG: If there was a movie made about your life, which actor would you like to play yourself?
BETANCES: Denzel Washington. He’s an amazing actor. Everything he touches.
TPG: Do you have a favorite baseball movie?
BETANCES: Bull Durham is a good one. I like the Jackie Robinson one. Sandlot. There's so many.
TPG: If you weren't an athlete, which profession would you pursue? Why?
BETANCES: Maybe engineer. My brother works with some of that stuff, so I would love to try to get into that.
TPG: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
BETANCES: Flying. I can avoid traffic.
TPG: What’s your favorite food?
BETANCES: I love Italian food. Beside obviously Spanish because my parents are from the Dominican Republic.
TPG: What would you never eat?
BETANCES: I’m not too big on seafood. I’m not big on veggies, either. I’m not a broccoli guy. I don’t eat broccoli.
TPG: What’s the best piece of advice any coach has given you?
BETANCES: Just to believe in yourself. If you believe in the abilities that you have, that goes a long way. I remember a lot of the coaches always emphasized that. One of the biggest things was to believe in my abilities and the stuff I had.
TPG: Growing up, who was your favorite player?
BETANCES: Jeter, Mariano. I was a big Yankee fan and I always liked watching those guys compete at the highest level. Those guys were the best at what they did.
TPG: How’d it feel to meet Jeter and Mariano as a teammate?
BETANCES: At first, it was kind of nerve-wracking. But those guys are amazing. They make you feel like you’re family. It was cool. But I was nervous the first day.
TPG: Did they give you any advice?
BETANCES: Just always be professional in what you do. Just to see those guys and the way they go about their business on a daily basis is pretty special. That was something I took away from it.
TPG: More important, moisturizer or cologne?
BETANCES: I would say Moisturizer. You got to make sure you’re clean.
TPG: Favorite tourist attraction in New York City?
BETANCES: I would have said that World Trade Center. I would say Madison Square Garden. It’s the Mecca of basketball. Watching games over there is pretty special.
TPG: How do you feel about the Knicks right now?
BETANCES: It’s a tough year. They look like they’re going to be the first or second pick. If they get that guy from Duke, I think he’ll be pretty good.