There’s no doubt Trevor May has the tools to succeed. When the 6-5, 240 lb. reliever uses high 90s fastball and sharp curve ball in proper sequence, he can dominate hitters, leaving them looking foolish. While he’s had his highs and lows this year, overall the 29-year-old’s numbers are good; a 3.35 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings and a stellar .197 batting average against. May’s troubles have mainly been control related – 23 walks.
A thoughtful, well-rounded guy who has interests outside of baseball, but is also very passionate about his job, May enjoys interacting with fans on social media and is secure enough to tell a joke at his own expense. I caught up with him near his locker during the White Sox series.
DZ: The last couple weeks, or month or so, you’ve been on a pretty good run. Got things going, what’s been working for you?
MAY: Just a little bit of a mindset change. Trying to get ahead of guys being the number one priority. Still kind of simplifying how I’m trying to get at guys a little bit. (I was) trying to work curve ball a lot earlier and doing some stuff that was kind of unnecessary wasn’t really getting results. Shave some of that stuff down and throwing strikes basically. That’s really all its been.
DZ: For you is it as much of a mental thing as physical, or even more so?
MAY: Even more so. Its mentally, the vast majority of the stuff for me is mental…When I’m locked in mentally usually things go pretty well for me, so you know just a little bit of mindset stuff, a little bit of philosophy. Change some real subtle stuff and kind of try to take care of business on a daily basis.
DZ: I talked to Taylor Rogers a month or so ago and he said that being a relief pitcher is kind of like being an offensive lineman, do you agree with that?
MAY: Yeah, similar to offensive lineman or even a kicker. If you’re doing your job, or if you have success you’re just doing what you’re supposed to do, and if you struggle you’re terrible, same thing with a line-man, no one ever notices how good blocks are. It’s just the nature of what we do, and probably when a team hits as well as we do, we’ve got to explain how we lose games somehow. It falls on (the bullpen) a little bit than more it has in the past I think, but it’s a good thing, if people are talking about us then that’s better than just being ignored, I guess.
DZ: But it does seem that relievers and bullpens got a lot more appreciation last few years, especially when it gets down to post season time, there’s a lot more talk. It’s got to give you hope for like when salaries come up.
MAY: Yeah, but everyone’s a reliever in the playoffs, right? It’s all hands-on-deck the entire game, so things change a little bit, but it’s not about getting recognition. It’s just about getting the job done, so if we get the job done then all of that other stuff takes care of itself.
DZ: You have a big social media presence, does that kind of backfire a little bit when you have a rough game?
MAY: I wouldn’t say backfire, but you’re definitely more aware of it. There’s been times it’s gotten to me a little bit this year, more so then in the past, but I also have been exposed a lot more this year then I have been in the past as well. It’s just a learning opportunity, learning curve; what you’re going to ignore, what you’re going to engage. Mute buttons been used quite a bit this year, but, you’re not going to change how fan bases are and how people act on the internet. You’re not going to make any real difference to make things better for yourself by constantly worrying about it. Taking that tactic has actually helped quite a bit, it’s actually been a lot more enjoyable just being me and continuing good or bad to use those platforms the way that I’ve always used them and engaged with people in as positive manner as I can and when something happens in the baseball field then use it for something else for a little bit, it’s that easy.
DZ: Speaking of Taylor Rogers, what’s it been like watching him kind of evolve as a pitcher, he’s gotten so much better the past few years?
MAY: It’s been great, I think he figured out, like I said, the handful of pitches and locations that make him really good and double down on them and worked really hard on mastering those things. As a reliever, you’re only facing a guy once, so it’s all about making one good pitch after another and you don’t have to set guys up next to bat or whatever the starter has to do. So, having two really good pitches is something you can do…He handles pressure really well, too, so it’s been good watching.
DZ: That’s got to be kind of inspiring.
MAY: It is a little bit because I’ve had good stretches where I’ve felt the same way and it’s just about doing it for extended periods of time, is the difference.
DZ: You guys kind of stabilized now before the (trade) deadline you had a lot of turnover in the bullpen. Some guys were DFA’d (Designated For Assignment/released), is that kind of unsettling? As a professional, how do you deal with that?
MAY: Losing brothers on your team sucks, from a human standpoint. Fortunately, all of them have opportunities currently at other places, too, which we knew they would. It was just kind of a different direction type thing give some young guys an opportunity to step up and see what we’ve got. But you know, I wish those guys the best, they’re out there earning out a job for the future in the big leagues now. At the time it sucked for everyone involved, but I think everyone’s probably pretty happy with where they’re at right now.
DZ: I was going to ask you about (pitching coach) Wes Johnson, too, what’s it been like with him all through this year?
MAY: Wes has been great, different approach to things a little bit, but I think he’s got a good eye for systematically figuring out what to make you a better pitcher. There’s a few categories guys fall into basically, how the arm path and how the body works, we have everything set up to get the data to fill in those blanks, and so we’ve seen a lot of guys proving and feeling better if they’re not feeling great or getting everything back on track quicker than in the past. Those are all the things that he’s contributed along with all the other guys behind the scenes you don’t really think about. There’s a whole team there. He is kind of a spear-head for that approach, which it’s the same thing we’ve been doing for a hundred years, it’s just more efficient, we have more information and know what information means what and we just act on it faster, but that is the only difference. He’s one of the best at doing that.
See more of David Zingler’s 2019 athlete interviews:
August 21: Sergio Romo
August 17: Sylvia Fowles
July 25: Max Kepler
July 20: Kyle Gibson
July 10: Alaina Coates
June 25: Taylor Rogers
June 19: Ryan Eades
June 16: Jason Castro
May 18: Seimone Augustus
April 24: Ryne Harper
April 21: CJ Cron
February 2: Caleb Truax