[JPL] Batista's new pitch is slow jazz

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Thu Dec 13 06:46:15 EST 2007


Batista's new pitch is slow jazz
12/12/2007 4:02 PM ET
By Doug Miller / MLB.com

Miguel Batista has always been just a little bit different from the average
baseball player.
Aside from his long pitching career in the Major Leagues, which peaked in
2001 when he won a World Series ring with the Arizona Diamondbacks, there
are plenty of off-the-field activities for Batista to keep himself busy.

Batista, now with the Seattle Mariners, considers himself a bit of a
philosopher and likes to throw around quotes from Gandhi and Einstein.
There's his writing, which includes published volumes of poetry and a
painstakingly researched crime novel called "The Avenger of Blood." And then
there's his music.

Batista played Native American flute on a Navajo recording when he was with
the Diamondbacks, and since he's been in Seattle, he's been taking lessons
at the University of Washington to perfect his favorite instrument -- the
soprano saxophone.

When asked to name the inspiration behind taking up such a difficult
instrument, Batista smiles and answers without hesitation. "That's easy," he
says. "Kenny G."

Batista recalls a sold-out show by the long-locked, Seattle-bred, soft-jazz
sax seducer in his hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It was a
high point for Batista as far as live music experiences go.

"I believe his music is different from how people characterize it," Batista

"It's a step up from jazz. A lot of people criticize him because they say a
lot of his music is not even jazz, but I think that means he's created his
own type of music, which I think is great. He has been one of the greatest
musicians of the last few years. He's packed theaters in places where people
don't even speak the language."

In his quest to match skills with his hero, Batista went to his new teacher
with one goal. "I just want to learn how to play for me," he says. "The
teacher even asked me, 'You're a Major League Baseball player and you want
to play the sax?' And it was easy for me to answer him. I said I just want
to play it for me."

"I like almost every kind of music as long as it's pretty, but for me, the
attraction to the soprano sax is that it's a very romantic instrument,"
Batista adds.

"It's an instrument where you can play a song in almost every key. And
that's what I like about it. You don't have much of a limit. It's one of the
harder saxes to learn how to play because of how much air you need to put
into it, but it's worth the challenge."

With that in mind, Batista says he bought an electronic soprano sax that he
can plug his headphone into so he doesn't bother his teammates while he's
practicing on the plane or in the clubhouse.

"I can't put it down," he says. "I love it."

He also loves the lessons the Navajos taught him, especially the notion that
you can play an instrument like native flute according to how you feel that
day and that it's a method of expression rather than a simple physical
product of mathematical formulas of note and chord combinations.

"Their music is different," he says. "It's more melody and high-spirit kind
of songs. It's music that you play with a different type of inspiration."

Batista's musical muse hits him all the time, he says. An idea for a song is
never far away, which is why his saxophone is never far away these days.

"Every musician and composer knows that inspiration comes at a moment in
time, and if you don't have pen and paper ready or your instrument right
there, you might lose it," he says. "People who have this passion for music,
we keep our instruments close. If it comes, you need to write it down and
you need to play it and then get the feeling of it."

Batista says he will try to master the soprano sax so he can continue his
musical odyssey. And Batista also says he hopes his favorite sax man from
Seattle will come out to Safeco Field one of these nights.

"We would love for Kenny G. to play the National Anthem here," Batista says.

"That would be a great thing. I bet it would become like Whitney Houston.
He'd play the National Anthem and it would become a hit."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its

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