Friday, August 7, 2009

Ni's job: Get big outs -- and bring treats for the bullpen

        If you get to your seat at Comerica Park early enough to see the relief pitchers walk out to the bullpen, look for the guy wearing the pink back pack. That will be Fu-Te Ni.
        As the junior member of the Tigers’ relief corps, in terms of big league service, it is Ni’s responsibility to fill that back pack with treats and sundries — candy, gum, bottled water, Advil, liniment — before every game, and then wear the pink bag out of the bullpen.
        “Ni does a real good job of stocking it every day,” praised Bobby Seay, who has been known to partake of a candy bar or two during the game.
        Ni has also become quite the clubhouse comedian. Although the left hander from Taiwan speaks virtually no English, he does very good imitations of some of his Tiger teammates, notably Seay and Placido Polanco.
        At the urging of bullpen coach Jeff Jones, Ni did his imitation of Seay marching around the mound between pitches for Jim Leyland the other day.
        “I laughed my butt off,” Leyland said. “He’s really funny. He’s got personality. I like that.”
        On Friday, Ni did his impression of Seay for a couple members of the media — stepping off to the side of the make-believe mound, tapping his cap, then tapping his foot before throwing a pitch.
        Nobody laughed harder at the little clubhouse show than Seay. “He’s got me down pat,” Seay said.
        “He really fits in well here, in my opinion,” Seay said. “He may not be able to speak much English, but he understands a lot.
        “He’s into the game 24/7. He knows he has to get big outs when he comes into a game.  And he knows how to be a professional. That’s something you can’t always teach.”


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