Mets’ Luis Guillorme on legendary beard, creative fielding, criticism
Amazin’ infielder Luis Guillorme takes a swing at some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: In pro sports, who has the best beards?
A: Well you gotta go with [James] Harden. … You gotta go with [Charlie] Blackmon. There’s a lot of good ones, you know?
Q: Where would yours rank?
A: I’m up there when I let it grow. Like, I think 2020 was the longest I had and it was pretty long. I haven’t gotten it there yet, but I think it was the whole COVID thing — being at home, I let it go for about a year.
Q: What prompted you to shave it off earlier this year?
A: I didn’t start out too hot, so I said, “Ah, let’s just change something, see what happens, just mix it up.”
Q: But then you grew it right back.
A: I don’t like being without a beard. Feel naked. I just don’t like the way I look without it.
Q: When did you first grow a beard?
A: I mean, like full, full beards, probably when I was 18, 19. I could grow some type of facial hair before that, but it wasn’t as much. And in my first three years we couldn’t have a beard in the minor leagues, up until in 2016 is where everything changed, so I was clean shaven those first three years.
Q: How would Buck Showalter look with a beard?
A: I think he can pull it off. I don’t think he’d like it, but I think he can pull it off.
Q: Who would look hideous with a beard?
A: Let’s see … I don’t know about hideous, but I think Vogey [Daniel Vogelbach] with a full, long beard would look pretty interesting. I think it would look good on him, actually, not bad.
Q: How often would you say you trim your beard?
A: Whenever I get a haircut I usually, I wouldn’t say trim it most of the time, but I line it up a little and clean up all the stragglers and make it look a little more presentable. So it’s still long, but it looks shorter just because it’s more well kept.
Q: At one time you had a Fu Manchu.
A: When I was in the minors coming up I’ve had Fu Manchu, I’ve had a goatee, I’ve had the handlebar mustache. … I get bored sometimes and I play around with it.
Q: What would a Little League baseball player have to do to earn the nickname “The Human Highlight Reel”?
A: (Laugh) I don’t know, I think it’s make plays that not a lot of people have seen … be creative with it, maybe.
Q: What’s the most creative play you think you’ve made?
A: I had one in Double-A where it was a ground ball up the middle — you can find it — it’s a ground ball up the middle, I was playing short, man on first, I was going behind second, I passed second base, caught it in between my legs, back to second base … but I’m gonna change my answer. 2019 in Triple-A I was playing second. Slow roller, I came in, came between my legs, barehand backwards to first for the out.
Q: How do you feel emotionally when you make an error?
A: I’m not a fan. I know people see it as I made an error and it might cost the pitcher runs, right? But people talk about it sometimes where you make an error, then you get a ground ball for a double play, you get out of the inning, didn’t matter. The way I look at is when I make an error, I’m making that pitcher throw extra pitches. So if that guy threw an extra five, seven pitches ’cause of me, I might have just taken an inning out of him. And at the same time, you might take money out of that guy ’cause he threw one less inning, or he had to throw to an extra batter. Whatever it is, the way I look at it is I’m making that guy throw more pitches.
Q: It probably ticks you off, am I right?
A: Yes. I’d rather go 0-for-4 than make a stupid error. Errors are gonna happen being aggressive, but dumb errors, I can’t stand ’em.
Q: Describe your on-field mentality.
A: I’m always focused … but I’m not fully serious about everything, I think I’m always relaxed, too. I’m always joking around no matter what the situation is. There’s times to be serious, but I think if you go through a game with just taking everything too serious you’re not gonna enjoy it. You can get mad at the moment, but you gotta flush it. I don’t like showing that I’m mad, it’s gonna happen eventually.
Q: You don’t like showing that you’re mad?
A: I don’t like showing emotions whatsoever out there. … I don’t want people to know whether I’m mad, whether this. I don’t think it looks good, me personally. So I just try to keep it to myself, and then flush it and then just maybe joke around about it. I think that’s the way I deal with stuff like that is I joke about it. When I have bad at-bats, whenever I go 0-for-4, “I’m the best hitter for the other team today,” stuff like that. That’s the way I get through stuff.
Q: What drives you?
A: I think one of the things is I’ve always been the smaller guy. It’s just proving people wrong really. It’s proving that I can do what I do.
Q: What is a criticism you felt was most unfair?
A: I’ve always shown I can hit. Then when I got to the big leagues I didn’t do it right off the bat. I was in a situation I wasn’t playing every day — this is not complaining, it’s just the way it was. It’s a lot harder to perform when you’re not playing every day. And I think in the last two years, especially this year, they gave me a shot, and I’ve shown what I can do. Like I said, I like to prove people wrong.
Q: Was it frustrating?
A: It always is, but at the end of the day, it’s not my call. Whenever they needed me to play I was gonna play, and if I was on the bench I was on the bench ready to come off of it.
Q: Favorite position?
A: At this point it’s second base.
Q: Is there any position you can’t play?
A: I don’t know, I don’t think so. I think I can just go there and figure it out as I go.
Q: How about catcher?
A: I can get it done.
Q: Does Buck know that?
A: I think I’m one of the emergency guys out here. … As long as I don’t have to catch Sugar [Edwin Diaz]. That guy throws way too hard.
Q: What about pitch?
A: I have two innings in the big leagues.
Q: What was that like?
A: The first one was really good, the second one was too cold, I didn’t like it. We were in Chicago last year, it was like 40s, 50s. My ball wasn’t doing what I expected it to do.
Q: Did you pitch growing up at all?
A: A little bit. But the coaches did not like taking me out of the game to put me on the mound.
Q: Why did you like Omar Vizquel so much?
A: I was always known for a defensive guy, it didn’t get much better than him. I just liked the way he played. Plus similar guy, I was always the small guy on the team, that’s what he was.
Q: When did you start wearing No. 13?
A: My whole life. Omar Vizquel wore it. So that’s why I wore it.
Q: If you could face any pitcher in MLB history, who would it be?
A: Randy Johnson, just to see what it looked like. It’s a lefty, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t go my way. It wouldn’t be fun, but it’d be interesting just to see it.
Q: If you could pick the brain of any infielder in MLB history other than Vizquel, who would it be?
A: I do it a lot with [Francisco] Lindor already as it is, doesn’t get much better than that at the moment. But growing up, because of Vizquel, I was a Cleveland Indians fan, that was my team. The other best player that played with him was Roberto Alomar. He was on the second base side. Or playing third base, I’ve done it. We got Eric Chavez that won a couple of Gold Gloves. I talk to him a lot about it from time to time, it’s not my natural position, so I’m lucky enough to have him here.
Q: What have you learned about Lindor as a teammate?
A: I like playing second with him. I think we get along really well. I think we’re similar types of players on the defensive side of it. We both might make a play out of nothing. … We know what each other’s doing at the time so I think that’s why it works well.
Q: What is it like playing behind Max Scherzer?
A: It’s fun. I’d say the same thing about [Jacob] deGrom, they’re two guys that are dominant. So I wouldn’t say it puts more pressure on you, but it makes you be a little more involved in the game ’cause you know they don’t put many balls in play when they’re hitting. So when they do, you want to make that play. When you have [Chris] Bassitt, Cookie [Carlos Carrasco], Taijuan [Walker], they’re contact-oriented guys, you get a lot of ground balls, they keep you involved. With Jake and Max, if you don’t stay in the game you might get lost because they might go four, five, six strikeouts in a row.
Q: Eduardo Escobar.
A: I think he’s one of the guys that keeps this team together. Just jokes all the time, but goes about his business the right way.
Q: Have you gotten a sense for your manager’s sense of humor?
A: It’s sometimes a little sarcastic. It’s a good one, I like it, I think it’s my type of sense of humor.
Q: How much of a difference can he make in terms of games won?
A: There’s times where I try to ask him about one play and then he starts explaining it and then he says, “If we did this in three innings, we might have to do that,” so he’s already thinking two, three innings ahead of it.
Q: Can he be worth like three wins a year, five wins a year?
A: Maybe more, who knows? At the end of the day, it’s just the knowledge he has about the game, the rules, the situation, stuff that might happen, it’s impressive.
Q: Describe Vogelbach.
A: He’s high energy. It looks like he can’t breathe when he’s talking ’cause he’s so excited in the game, just gets going, really communicates well about the game going on. [Tomas] Nido’s up there too, Nido bounces off the walls when he’s not playing.
Q: What is your ideal glove?
A: The glove I have right now. I’ve had the same glove since I was 12 years old, Rawlings — not the same glove, but same model, same size, but different colors. It’s Rawlings 11 ¹/₄, that’s what I like.
Q: But you’ve got a whole bunch of different gloves, don’t you?
A: I do, but they’re all the same. All that varies is the colors.
Q: How many different gloves do you think you have?
A: In my locker right now I probably have five gloves. I only use one. I just have ’em there. You never know what can happen.
Q: How long have you used just this one?
A: Just this year. I switch my gloves every year. … I don’t like ’em getting too soft.
Q: How much fun was your 22-pitch at-bat against Jordan Hicks?
A: I was tired. I don’t know about fun. It was fun after I walked. It wasn’t fun while I was doing it ’cause that guy throws hard, but yeah, it was interesting.
Q: Why don’t you wear a batting glove?
A: 2015 when I was in Savannah [Ga.], I was struggling a little bit, a little bit of a slump.
Q: So you took them off.
A: I had a good day … and then it just kind of went from superstition to, “I’m used to it now.” And I can’t wear batting gloves again.
Q: Describe catching that flying bat in the dugout.
A: I saw it the whole way. A lot of guys get hurt when you start ducking, you don’t know where the bat’s going. So I was literally trying to stop it. But when I went to stop it, it hit my hand and it just reaction closed and I caught it, and just threw it back.
Q: What has been your biggest adversity or obstacle?
A: Personally for me, last year was tough. I had never been hurt in my career, and I spent two months on the injured list [oblique, hamstring]. It was tough for me just to be around the guys not being able to play.
Q: What has been your best baseball moment?
A: As of now, I think it was my first home run, pinch hit off the bench off of Fernando Rodney to tie the game in the eighth inning.
Q: Your worst baseball moment?
A: Cincinnati last year, three errors in the first two innings, two on one play. It’s tough not to think about it like, “Oh, if this ball gets hit to me I gotta make this play, I already messed up.” That was not fun. That was my least favorite moment of all time.
Q: Best practical joke?
A: Well, in Triple-A, ’19, we had an older team, a lot of big leaguers, so we had a lot of fun. One of the things we did as a team was we had one our coaches, and we put eye-black inside of his helmet, he couldn’t tell until he took it off in the middle of the field.
Q: Who are your favorite athletes in other sports?
A: Back in the day my favorite soccer player was Raul from Madrid.
Q: And now?
Q: You played ball in your house in Venezuela as a boy.
A: There were two rooms that my dad knocked out a wall in the middle, and I had a room with four walls and a couch, and I would just throw the ball around the room.
Q: What kind of ball?
A: Tennis balls, rubber balls, any type of little ball that could bounce. Except for a baseball. I got in trouble for that one a couple of times, a couple of holes in the wall, so we stayed away from those.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Chris Farley, Ichiro [Suzuki], Michael Jordan.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “Space Jam.” The original one.
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Adam Sandler.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Jennifer Aniston.
Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
A: Luke Combs.
Q: Favorite meal?
Q: Best sandwich?
A: The Godfather at Benateri’s.
Q: What do you like best about this team?
A: I think it’s just the way we all get along. I think it’s a really good group of guys. We’re always having fun. We can be down by eight, we can be up by 10, it’s always business but we’re relaxed about it.
Q: Why is that?
A: I think we just know who we are, and how good we really can be.
Q: Visualize for me what this city will look and sound like if the Mets and Yankees play a Subway Series in October.
A: I might have to show up to the field about six hours early so I can get though traffic, it might make it a lot easier for us too, we don’t have to really travel, you can sleep in your own bed. … I think it’d be awesome.
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