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Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom talks awards, inspirations

Kidsday reporters Emily Speter, Anthony Leva, Lukas Schlesinger

Kidsday reporters Emily Speter, Anthony Leva, Lukas Schlesinger and Julia Esposito, ages 9 and 10, from New Hyde Park , with Mets pitcher Jacob DeGrom at CitiField before a recent ballgame on Apr. 21, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We interviewed Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom before a Mets game recently. As you know, Jacob was named Rookie of the Year last year and is part of the Mets terrific pitching staff.

How did it feel being Rookie of the Year last year?

I'm still trying to take it all in. It was kind of a crazy year and I never expected it. So it was kind of a shock, but I was honored to receive the award.

What advice would you give to young athletes now that you have made it to the major leagues?

Always give 100 percent. You never know who's watching and everything you do give it 100 percent. As long as you do that I think you'll be all right.

Who was your inspiration?

I liked Chipper Jones, which Met fans won't like that. He was kind of from my hometown. I live right next to it, so everybody in that area grew up a Chipper Jones fan and I really liked how he played the game.

Do you get nervous before the games and what do you like to do before pitching?

Yeah, I get nervous before games. Even spring training games I get nervous before, but every start up I'm pretty nervous. Before games I'll think about their lineup and picture myself out there facing them and try to prepare myself whenever I get out there.

Is one of your hopes and dreams to one day be in the Mets Hall of Fame?

Yeah definitely. The Mets Hall of Fame and the actual Hall of Fame. I think that's everybody's dream and I'll win a World Series hopefully with the Mets and make it to the Hall of Fame.

How did you balance your schoolwork and playing baseball?

Well, my mom did a good job of making me do my schoolwork before I could play. I think that helped out and in college my first two years we actually had a study hall we had to go to to make sure we got our school work done and were eligible to play.

Do you have any lucky charms?

I do not.

What are you feeling when you step on to the pitching mound?

I think it's more focused just being out there and I really try to calm myself down and take it one pitch at a time.

How long did it take your hair to grow that long?

It's been growing for a while. I've had it trimmed a couple of times. I think the last time I actually had short hair was in 2010 when I had Tommy John surgery and I used to always have a buzz cut. I would keep my head pretty much shaved. So it's been growing for a while.

Do you have a copy of your own garden gnome?

Yeah, he's sitting in my locker.

It's the warm season. Do you like pitching in the cold or the hot?

I like the hot. I think it's just easier to stay loose. In the cold you come and sit in the dugout and kind of stiffen up. So I like pitching in the warm weather.

Why did you pick the number 48?

I actually didn't pick it. It was given to me, but I think now it's going to stick. I like it.

Do you feel a big honor every time you throw on your Mets jersey?

Yeah, every day that I get to put this jersey on I'm thankful for. You never want to take that kind of stuff for granted. You don't know how long you can play this game and every day I get to come in here and put the jersey on. I'm very thankful I get to do that.

Is there any batter you had trouble getting out?

Adrian Gonzalez. That's when I gave up, I believe, my first home run to and he's got me another time. In LA I think he had more RBIs off me. He's normally a tough out for me.

Does the crowd make you feel distracted or confident?

I think confident. They don't really distract me. Whenever you get a nice ovation walking off the field, that's always nice, but they don't distract me.

What was in your mind when you were recruited for the Mets?

I really didn't know what to expect. That's all kind of coming out of college. I didn't really know how professional baseball works and it was all new to me. So I didn't really know what to expect, but I was excited and I'm happy that I'm playing in New York.

How do you prepare for a game?

I just think about the batters, go over them with Travis, Dan or whoever's catching, with Dan Wharten, the pitching coach, and I normally just sit at my locker and relax. I try not to do too many things.

Do you like turf or natural grass?

Natural grass.

When you were growing up did you ever look up to a Mets player?

No, I can't say I did. I grew up watching the Braves because I'm from Florida. They were on TV a lot where I'm from. So that's who I grew up watching.

Will you guys sit in the dugout for the concert or sit in the stands?

Last year we sat in the dugout during the concerts. If we're here for Zac Brown I'll probably walk out closer to the stage.

Do you have any pets that keep you confident?

Me and my wife just got our first dog. Confident, I guess it's nice when she's excited to see me when I come home. Pixie, she's a little three-pound Morkie.

Do you ever Google yourself?

No, I try not to look at things like that. I don't want to know what people have to say about me. I just try to block all that out so it doesn't distract me.

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