Sep 27, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins shortstopAdeiny Hechavarria
(left) celebrates with teammate relief pitcherSteve Cishek
(center) after defeating the Detroit Tigers 3-2 at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Cishek was one of the players that saw a breakout year in 2013. Steve became in integral part of the Marlins’ bullpen in 2012, repeatedly filling in at closer for Heath Bell who was struggling mightily at the time. Cishek pitched well in those opportunities, and following a trade that sent Heath Bell packing, Cishek took control of the closer role for the Marlins heading into 2013.
The Marlins certainly expected good things out of Cishek, but I doubt seriously that they expected him to play the way he did. He amassed 34 saves in 36 opportunities, effectively shutting down opposing lineups in the ninth inning. He wasn’t given a ton of chances, but when he was called upon, he usually converted.
Thanks to that performance, the Marlins have no concern about who their closer will be heading into 2014. Cishek has entrenched himself as one of the most valuable Marlins and Miami will continue to look for him to lead them to victories in close games. I had an opportunity to ask Steve some questions about last year and what has helped him to become the player that he is today.
For anyone that follows Steve on Twitter, it is very evident how important his faith is in his daily life. He mentions it on a daily basis and is often giving credit where credit is due.
"My faith impacts me in all aspects of life. I trust in the Lord in all I do and give him glory for everything as is said in 1 Corinthians 10:31. I realize there is more to life than baseball and my faith in God is my number one priority. If I maintain that faith then the rest of life; family, baseball, social encounters, financial stuff, etc. [all] line up for His glory."
I also asked him how difficult it is to maintain his faith through the grind of a 162 game season.
"It definitely can be tough to carve out time if you aren’t aware of how much time you really have. If we discipline ourselves enough and go to bed and get up at a normal time, then we have plenty of time to focus on the word. It gets tough when people visit or ask for your time on the road. However even when we are at the ball park we have time to dive into the word and have bible studies with our teammates which creates a camaraderie like no other."
We discussed the new additions to the Marlins this offseason and what his thoughts were on them.
"I’m excited to see the new additions and to be able to meet them. Its real exciting to see new faces in the spring and then see what they can do out on the field. It’s not the same when you are playing against them or see them on tv. You want to see them in a Marlins uniform doing all they can to help the team win and that’s exciting."
I couldn’t possibly leave out the opportunity to ask him about the Rookie of the Year, Jose Fernandez, and what it was like to watch him this past season.
"Jose was the most impressive pitcher I have seen yet. Watching him grow as a pitcher and an adult was incredible. In the beginning he seemed a bit unsure, pitching well but not blowing people away. Then he pitched well and it may have got to his head… so when we were in Tampa it seemed like he wanted to show off a bit to his hometown friends. Well he got hit around and it humbled him greatly. After that he realized he couldn’t do that, came back strong, and was nails and arguably the best pitcher in the League."
I returned to Steve to ask him what he credits with getting to where he is today.
"I think it would definitely be safe to say I wouldn’t be here without my faith. I have a lot to be thankful for. One is my attitude. Although I didn’t show it, I had a terrible attitude in the past. If things didn’t go my way I shut down and gave up. This was clearly shown in my year in Greensboro as a grasshopper. But I was challenged by Colossians 3:23 where it says “In whatever you do, do it for the Lord and not for men.” I was so concerned with what people thought that I would shut down and be scared… soft really."
I also asked him how he handles the pressure to act a certain way with the commitments that he has made.
"At first I thought I had to act a certain way, but I have realized that if I truly have Christ in me then I don’t have to do anything but glorify Him. But when all eyes are on you I want to make sure that my actions, whether win or lose, are honorable to Him. [For instance], if I blow a save, I’m not screaming obscenities and body slamming trash cans lol."
Finally I asked him what he was expecting out of the Marlins in 2014.
"I expect to see big things with us next year. We have some key offensive pieces coming in that will hopefully help [Giancarlo] Stanton out and if he has some protection in the lineup… watch out. I expect big things from our starting pitching as well. They were a lot of fun to watch last year and this season couldn’t come any sooner!"
I wanted to thank Steve for taking the time to answer questions for me and sharing as much as he did. Like Steve, I am ready for this upcoming season to start. I am looking forward to seeing the progress that this young team has made, and just how far leaders like Steve can take this team in 2014!