We wrap up our coverage of Hawaii’s Boys of Summer with Kauai “strike-out king” Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Kirby Yates.
After putting up some of the most dominating stats of his career, in the Minor Leagues, Yates was flat-out electric after a mid-season call-up to the Big Leagues, totaling 42 strikeouts in just 35 innings pitched.
Although life on the mound is quite different these days, the vibes on the Garden Isle back home in the off-season remain the same.
“It’s awesome,” Yates said. “It’s just cool to go home and everybody’s just extremely stoked for you, telling me ‘Kirby, we’re all proud of you.’ It’s very humbling and I appreciate all the support I get from family, friends, everybody. ‘Hey man, we’re so proud of you.’ It feels good and Kauai will always be home. I’ll always go home and have that, it’s just special.”
As for his future with the Rays, Yates said, “Whatever role they put me in, I’m ready. Whether it’s sixth inning or ninth inning, it doesn’t matter. To me, any inning you pitch in the bullpen is the ninth inning. You don’t want a guy to score. You can win or lose the game in the sixth inning. That’s kind of what I’ve noticed, so it doesn’t really matter what inning I pitch. My job is not to give up runs and that’s the way I go about it. It’s the ninth inning every inning you pitch.”
Although Yates has put more mileage on his arm than he ever has in his career last season, Yates says it has more life than he’s ever felt.
Stay with KHON2 and KHON2.com for updates on Hawaii’s Boys of Summer throughout the season.