April 30, 2006
by Kyle McRae
One look at Stanford outfielder Ryan Seawell elicits thoughts of a cool, calm and collected ballplayer. Seawell has certainly needed all three traits during the first three seasons of his Stanford Baseball career.
"Baseball is different than many other sports," explains Seawell. "Getting frustrated or angry will definitely work against you at the plate. You have to remain calm no matter what's going on."
In his first two seasons with the Cardinal, there was often too little going on for Seawell as he spent most of 2004 and 2005 as a part-time player. He looked to be in for another similar campaign this year until he was inserted into the lineup at the leadoff spot and as the team's centerfielder for a game versus San Francisco a week ago Monday.
"I had never played center field before this season except in practice," said Seawell, who did have experience as a leadoff hitter at nearby Menlo School during his senior year in high school.
Seawell responded to his new roles by going 2-for-3 with an RBI and reaching base in four of his five at bats. He ended up starting all five of the team's games both in the leadoff spot and in center field last week, hitting .455 (10-22) with two doubles, three RBI and two stolen bases. He also walked twice and was hit on three occasions to contribute to a .556 on-base percentage, and added a .545 slugging percentage.
"It's tough not to put added pressure on yourself when you do get an opportunity," explained Seawell. "But, there's nothing you can do except accept pressure and try to thrive on it."
Despite his success last week in the first chance he had been given to be in the lineup on an everyday basis for that many consecutive games, Seawell knows he needs to keep it up in order to realize his wish of continuing in an everyday role for the Cardinal.
"I still feel like I'm battling for my spot, because there are so many guys here that can play," explained Seawell. "My recent success hasn't guaranteed me anything as far as the future is concerned."
Much of Seawell's perspective on baseball was spawned from a conversation he had with his late grandfather, William Seawell, after a Babe Ruth All-Star game a few years ago.
"He was my hero and somebody I really looked up to," emphasized Seawell. "One time I was really nervous playing in front of him and had one of the worst games of my life. I think I was 0-for-5 and made three errors. He came to my room after the game and he told me that it was just a game, and that he still loved me for my character instead of how well I played."
Seawell, who has now started eight of the last nine games in center field and at the top of the order, hasn't had too worry about many rough games this season. He has a current .319 season batting average and is an emerging bright spot in an otherwise difficult season for the Cardinal.
He feels comfortable with his approach and hopes it will lead to a long and successful career in the sport.
"I've been playing sports throughout my entire life and have gotten used to competing to the point where it's almost second nature to me," explained Seawell, who contributed a clutch pinch-hit two-RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning yesterday to cut the Arizona State lead to 8-7. "Even playing at this high level doesn't really get to me that much. I just focus on the task at hand and trust that hard work is going to pay off."
His hard work in a cool, calm and collected manner has done just that.