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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

‘Old-School’ Lorenzen admires Edmonds, Ryan

Jim Ecker        
Mike Lorenzen is young, but he’s old-school. He’s 17, so you might think he’d emulate a couple of young stars in the major leagues, but his all-time favorites are Jim Edmonds and Nolan Ryan, a pair of retired all-stars. Maybe he’s mature beyond his years.

Lorenzen is a 6-foot-2, 175-pound center fielder and pitcher from Anaheim, Calif., so you might think his loyalty to Edmonds and Ryan is based on their ties to the home-town Angels. That’s only partially correct, however.

Edmonds, an outstanding center fielder during his 15-year career, stopped playing for the Angels after the 1999 season, when Lorenzen was just 7 years old. Ryan, a Hall of Fame pitcher and the all-time strikeout king, played for the Angels from 1972 to 1979, well before Lorenzen was born.

So no, Lorenzen’s feelings for Edmonds and Ryan are not entirely based on blind allegiance to the local team. Rather, he admires the way both of them played the game.

As a center fielder himself, Lorenzen loves the way Edmonds played the position for the Angels (1993-99) and St. Louis Cardinals (2000-2007) for 15 years in the big leagues. “He’s able to give up his body for the team, and he gets dirty no matter what,” Lorenzen said. “He’s just the kind of player that I look up to when it comes to playing center field.”

And Nolan Ryan?

“My dad had an influence on that one,” he said. “Nolan Ryan was another hard-nosed player that just never gave up. From a pitching standpoint, I like to look up to Nolan Ryan and try to pitch like him and try to have the same mentality as Nolan Ryan, because nobody had a better mentality than him.”

When you see Lorenzen playing center field in the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic this Sunday at PETCO Park in San Diego, think about Edmonds. And if you see him pitching, think about Ryan. You have to admit, that’s a pretty good combination for one guy.

Lorenzen throws a 93 mph fastball and hit .452 this season at Fullerton Union High School. He said he’s looking forward to the Aflac game and experiences.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “One of my goals for this summer was to make the Aflac game and to make the Area Code Games, and I’ve completed both of the goals.”

Lorenzen is looking forward to seeing his friends and former teammates at the Aflac game. He played with some of these guys on the Team USA 16U outfit that won the gold medal at an international event in Mexico last fall. Lorenzen is also an excellent student, and that trip to Mexico put a strain on his GPA.

Lorenzen said he missed about four weeks of school last September to play for Team USA. His cumulative GPA used to be 3.74, but he said it’s fallen to 3.49 now after he finished with a 2.90 grade-point average last fall.

“We were gone for a month of school,” he said. “I ended up taking homework with me, but when you have physics and pre-calculus and A.P. (Advanced Placement) English and Spanish 3 … it didn’t work out.”

In retrospect, he wouldn’t change a thing about that trip. They came home with the gold.

“It was an honor,” he said. “It was definitely worth it. That was my goal last year, to play for the USA Team.”
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