Born in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Rick van den Hurk was signed by the Florida Marlins as an amateur free agent in 2002. He made his Major League debut in April 2007 and is jumping back and forth between the big leagues and the minors respectively bullpen and rotation since. At the trade deadline last July he got traded from the Marlins to the Baltimore Orioles. In November he together with his father organized the European Big Leaguers Tour, which brought Adam Jones, Jeremy Guthrie, John Baker, Gregory Halman and Brady Anderson to the Netherlands and Belgium. The 25-year-old who has a career ERA of 5.86 in the MLB was so kind to answer a few questions for Mister-Baseball.
Mister-Baseball: The European Big Leaguers tour was a big success. What are your personal thoughts on it? How did Adam Jones and Co. like the trip to Europe? And did you receive any feedback from Major League Baseball?
Rick van den Hurk: The E.B.L.T was a great success, I enjoyed it a lot and it was great fun to see all those kids and baseball fans come out and enjoy our clinics. Adam, Jeremy, John, Kyle, Gregory, and Brady told me they had an awesome time and enjoyed it. Besides the clinics the got to experience Europe and spent a lot of time in Amsterdam and Paris.
Mister-Baseball: Will you organize a similar tour in the future?
Rick van den Hurk: I would like to organize it again in the future, but the big question is when, and as we are still evaluating on the E.B.L.T 2010 we haven’t got to discuss the future of the tour yet.
Mister-Baseball: You’ve got traded from the Marlins to the Orioles at the end of July this summer. Did you expect a trade before and what are the differences between the two organizations? When and how did you hear about the trade?
Rick van den Hurk: I didn’t expect a trade, but baseball is a business and you can get traded at any time. Both are great organizations and in very strong divisions AL and NL East. I heard about 5-10 minutes before the trade deadline, the marlins Farm director called me and told me I got traded I was playing catch at that time in New Orleans (Marlins Triple A)
Mister-Baseball: Can you describe to your European fans what the differences are between being a minor and a major league player, off the field and on the field?
Rick van den Hurk: the game is a little faster in the big leagues, and you face the very best hitters in the world. off-field differences in the Big Leagues you fly with the Team Plane so u don’t have to wait in line or anything like that, you pull up and hop on the plane.
Mister-Baseball: Do you already know what role you will play in 2011? Do the Orioles see you as a starting pitcher or a reliever?
Rick van den Hurk: I don’t know yet, the orioles have seen me in both roles, and it will play itself out during spring.
Mister-Baseball: Probably every young baseball player is dreaming about the big leagues at some point. Did you have a moment or a game, when you knew, you can actually make it?
Rick van den Hurk: As you sign with a professional team you know that they have signed you for a reason, cause they think in the future you can play in the Major Leagues and it’s up to yourself how bad you want it, and how hard you work over the years. And you always work to get closer to your dream.
Mister-Baseball: Any advice for a European player how he can reach the big leagues too? What are the major obstacles in the life of a minor leaguer on its way up?
Rick van den Hurk: The Minor leagues are tough and is very good competition. You always got to look at yourself and see how you can get better every day.
Mister-Baseball: What are you doing during the winter? Did you already start preparations for the 2011 season?
Rick van den Hurk: During the winter I relax and hang out with my friends and family, get away from the game a little bit. And also work out every day, lift weights and run to stay in shape. And when January rolls around play catch and throw bullpens to get ready for spring training.
Mister-Baseball: Before and during the 2009 World Baseball Classic you worked with Bert Blyleven. Are you still in contact with him and is he giving you pointers?
Rick van den Hurk: Yes I still keep in touch with Bert Blyleven; he’s been great and has helped me a lot.
Mister-Baseball: A few words on his hall of fame election.
Rick van den Hurk: Awesome!! His Numbers and his career speaks for itself, he’s has done it all!
Mister-Baseball: Do you have a special routine when you’re scheduled to start? What are you doing in your free time?
Rick van den Hurk: Not a special routine, but things that you feel good with food throwing wise and running wise, free time I look up the sports news in Holland follow my team P.S.V. Eindhoven and talk with my friends and family
Mister-Baseball thanks Rick van den Hurk and wishes good luck for the upcoming season.
Photo: © Ron Wickert, www.eott.nl