Sam Sherman: What was your initial reaction when you found out Luis got called up?
Ray Birmingham: Oh, I anticipated it, I was very happy for him. Any time you can become one of the elite people in the world, playing Major League Baseball, it's a dream of all kids, so I'm happy for him, very happy for the White Sox, and happy for the great scout John Kazanas that believed in him.
Have you had a chance to reach out to speak to Luis yet?
Yeah, I just said I love you kid, now go be a legend, and not just a guy passing through.
What kind of player was Luis in college?
He was a baseball player, and finding a true baseball player is hard nowadays. In high school he was a left-handed catcher, played shortstop, he was such a good athlete that he kind of played wherever he needed to play, and it kind of went against the grain of the game. His swing was so pure and his approach needed a little polish, his maturity needed a little polish.
But, I have to tip my hat to his dad, Luis González Sr. is the man behind the man, and he did a great job. Every time I jumped Luis' ass for not handling the game right, his dad would be right behind me, and that's even hard to find now. His dad would call him later that night after I would tell him, and his dad would back me up all the way and get on him.
So he was getting held accountable from a couple different places?
Correct, he was held accountable by his dad primarily. His dad has been the driving force, with a son that's a great kid. He's just a great kid. But we knew what he had, but the mental side was real important.
What was Luis like off the field and as a teammate?
Always a great teammate, a great teammate. The kids on the team loved him. We were Mountain West champs his last year with us, and when we played really big games against good teams in regionals or wherever, he would step up. He always rose to the level of pitching that he faced.
Luis had a .344 OBP throughout his minor league career, did he always have a knack for getting on base?
Yeah, it's funny you should say that, he had a really good idea about the strike zone, really good idea about what to swing at. We had him in a leadoff role early in his career, and then by his junior year we moved him to the 3-hole. Well, he would take the leadoff mentality and take it to the 3-hole, and leave runners and second and third trying to draw a walk and I had to tell him, 'Hey you're a good hitter, I need you drive in runs now, you can walk later.' That's him, he has a real good approach getting on base, and he can steal some bases.
Luis seems like a player who is pretty solid across the board.
That arm got up to 94 mph for us, that's a big arm.
Yeah, he pitched for you guys, too!
Yeah, he could hit for average, he could hit for power, drag bunt, steal bases, he had a feel for the game.
Is there anything you can share with us about him that probably not many people know?
Freshman year when he came to play for us, he went home for Christmas, and he sent me a picture. He was in his backyard in Tucson, and, how tall is Luis, 6´, 6´1´´?
I believe he's 6´1´´.
So the picture was him in the backyard, holding a rattlesnake that was taller than him. with his hand up in the air, just holding the rattlesnake and it's just touching the ground.
[Laughs] What did you respond to him?
Get away from that snake! The snake was dead, but he was holding it. He says he kills them all the time around his house, and I told him stay away from them, stop doing that.
Now that he's in Chicago, I don't think he has to worry about snakes anymore.
No, he's not scared of them.
I mean, if you can take down snakes like that, I don't think there's one pitcher in the major leagues that you would be afraid of
It was a six-foot diamondback, you and I ain't doing that.
Oh, I'm certainly not [Laughs]
Before Tuesday's game, Luis González met the media for the first time as a major leaguer. Let's take a peek, courtesy of the White Sox (and yes, there were rattlesnakes):