The Nine: Nine Questions With Nasim Nuñez
Nasim Nuñez was the starting shortstop on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ 2022 Southern League championship team, and as he prepares for the 2023 season he took some time out of his busy schedule to join broadcaster Erik Bremer for a conversation to kick off Black History Month. In keeping with
Nasim Nuñez was the starting shortstop on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ 2022 Southern League championship team, and as he prepares for the 2023 season he took some time out of his busy schedule to join broadcaster Erik Bremer for a conversation to kick off Black History Month.
In keeping with Minor League Baseball’s “The Nine” initiative, Nasim answered nine wide-ranging questions about baseball, Black History Month, and his work in the community.
1. What’s kept you busy in the offseason?
Man, this offseason has really been great. Mostly, for me it's really been focused on working out, getting a lot stronger, and taking that time to become a smarter baseball player. Besides that, enjoying time with family and friends that I haven't seen in a while and going on some vacations.
2. What will you remember most about the Blue Wahoos’ 2022 championship run? I know you showed up partway through the season, but you were there for all those big moments late in the year.
The biggest thing I remember is that, when I joined the team, it was so welcoming. It was like a home. There was just family, and we played baseball. We played ball, no matter what the score was, no matter the weather, no matter anything. That was something I loved about that team.
3. One of the things that you've done in this offseason is start up, for the first time, a youth baseball clinic. What compelled you to do that?
You know, it was time to give back. It was time to do something in my community. It's been three years since I got drafted, and that was where I grew up and really where I was raised. So my mom brought it up to me, as well as my father, and I just wanted to do it. We talked about it before - even before I got drafted I always talked about doing something like that - but the camp was amazing, and it was a great turnout, as well as [seeing] the smile on the parents’ and the kids’ faces.
4. You are a black man who grew up playing baseball and, as you said, you’ve started to give back to the community that raised you. What could baseball do to get more black youth involved and interested in the game?
You know, baseball has a lot of black youth. And something I thought about with my parents throughout that camp is, we're trying to get more black Americans into the game. Me, being a black American, it's just inspiring when I get to pass down information and knowledge and show the other black American youth and the kids that it’s possible and we can do it. So it's just about being out there, getting more coaches and more players and more GMs so they can see it.
5. We've talked about this before, but for the fans who might not know … Which black baseball players did you look up to growing up as a youth player?
You know, my dad's favorite player was Ken Griffey, Jr. so I watched a little bit of [him]. And even when I was younger, even though I wasn't really as big of a fan as most might think, for sure Derek Jeter. I looked up to him a lot. Derek Jeter played the game the right way, and he went about his business the right way.
You were born in the Bronx, right?
So there's a natural connection to the Derek Jeter-era Yankees.
You know it.
6. Black History Month means different things to different people, but what does it mean to you personally?
You know, it’s a month that celebrates us. Even though I believe we celebrate ourselves - we should celebrate ourselves all the time, actually, it's who we are - but since it’s there, we take it and take pride in it, and enjoy it.
7. Just a couple days ago, MLB.com’s Marlins beat reporter Christina De Nicola published a really interesting article on you and your habit of journaling. It's something that you've gotten into recently, and I think that's just a fascinating way to really track your progress and track the mental side of the game of baseball. What got you into that, and what have you gotten out of it so far?
My dad always used to buy me journals, and my mom would say they were diaries so, you know, when I was younger I didn't really write in it and take interest in it.
It’s all about the branding, right?
You know it. It’s always been instilled in me in a sort of way, even though I didn't really pursue it as much. But as I got older and, you know, life gets different when you become older and you start seeing things differently, so once I kind of started having thoughts and going through the process of baseball, the Marlins gave me a journal and I just started writing in it. And I always thought, when I first got drafted, I'm gonna write everything that goes on in this journal because one day someone’s gonna try to steal it or somebody’s gonna try to sell it. I always started with that, and then I started writing more things that were just on my mind. And I found out it was a way for me to release because in the game, if you have these thoughts, and you keep everything trapped inside you, there's no way of getting them out. You're gonna crumble. So that's the way I was able to release everything and be okay with stuff.
8. I'll preface this with the obvious understanding that you are going to [Spring Training in] Jupiter to try and make the highest level team that you can, but if you begin the 2023 season back here in Pensacola - and we'd love to have you - what are you looking forward to in terms of coming back here?
I’m looking forward to seeing the staff, seeing everybody who was there, and even the fans and the teammates. For the players who haven't been to Pensacola yet, I look to be a leader and show them how the Blue Wahoos play ball, you know? I for sure want to take what was instilled in that team last year when I got called up, how they were going about playing ball, and I want to keep that a trend. That’s some great baseball, right there.
9. What are your goals for the 2023 season?
You know, I could say a lot of personal goals, but really for me I want to be the best teammate and I want to be the best player for the team. I want to be what the team needs and be comfortable with that. I want to play baseball, and I want to do what’s needed to help us win and improve. That’s my goal.