BY: ED COLE
PHOENIX – Larry Fitzgerald played some baseball when he was a kid. He wasn’t that good, but if a pitcher put the ball right down the pike on him, he’d get some wood on it.
The pitch he tossed to Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin may have only traveled at a speed of 35 MPH, according to Fitzgerald, but it was a perfect pitch for him to toss on Opening Day before the D-backs took on the Colorado Rockies.
“It was a fabulous experience,” Fitzgerald said. “Something that you always dream about as a kid, to be able to have that opportunity on Opening Day (with) the hometown team (D-backs), and to be able to actually throw a strike, it’s right on course.”
The relationship Fitzgerald and Corbin have reaches back to the times when Corbin would come to Cardinals games, and support Fitzgerald and the team. They’ve developed a great bond as a result of that, and it continued on with that single pitch.
“I threw a changeup. (Patrick) Corbin told me to come inside, so I said, ‘I’ll go in there,’ so it worked out for me,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m glad to see him (Corbin) back healthy and ready to go this year.”
A sellout crowd of 48,165 turned out for the season opener. Being in front of a crowd that big and performing is nothing new to Fitzgerald. He’s used to doing what he does in front of more people than that at University of Phoenix Stadium and on the road. He may have had no nerves, but at the same time, he enjoyed the experience and seeing all the fans out at Chase Field.
“It was wonderful just to see the turnout that we have here on Opening Day,” Fitzgerald said. “They had an outstanding Spring Training, and hopefully it carries over to the regular season.”
People think what Fitzgerald does in football is difficult, and they’d be correct in their thinking. When Fitzgerald looks at the game of baseball, he thinks what Major League Baseball players do on a daily basis is harder than what NFL players have to do.
“Hitting a baseball moving 90+ MPH is the hardest thing to do in sports, I believe,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s so much more mental than it is physical. You go 4-4 one day, and you come back and go 0-4 the next. To be able to dig yourself out of those ruts guys go through periodically throughout the season just shows the mental fortitude that they have to exhibit. I don’t know if we have to deal with anything quite that difficult in football.”