The Nebraska Cornhuskers lost a quarterback. The Kansas City Royals gained an outfielder. Bubba Starling, the Royals’ first-round pick in this year’s Major League Baseball draft, signed a deal at the deadline Monday night that will pay him $7.5 million over the span of three years.
It would have seemed weird if Starling hadn’t signed the deal, yet it was probably equally awkward spending time working out with the Cornhuskers in Lincoln while all of this was going down. In the end, he simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Bubba Starling joined WHB in Kansas City with Between the Lines to discuss the process of deciding between baseball and football while at Cornhuskers’ camp the past few weeks, why he likes baseball more than any other sport, the awkwardness of going back to Lincoln to get his stuff, how Bo Pelini handled the situation, what signing at deadline was like, how he emerged as a top player and how fast he can make it to the show.
How did the whole process go with you being at Nebraska but knowing baseball was a strong possibility?:
“It was really weird just considering if I did choose baseball, I wasn’t getting to work out or do anything, baseball-wise. But I got to experience the football side of it up there and meet some of the great guys … and just experience what it would be like possibly playing college football.”
How much more important is baseball to you than other sports?:
“It was a big factor. Just growing up I had a lot of cousins around me that played baseball. … We always played some other sports to, but it was mainly in the area of that, just playing baseball with them and growing up with all them guys and teaching me everything. … I play a lot of football, but I didn’t have all those guys around me teaching me.”
Doesn’t it seem kind of crazy that last week you could have taken your football teammates to lunch and now when you go back to get your things you can’t because that would violate NCAA rules?:
“It’s kinda crazy because I was just up there with them and now I’m gone and now I’m not a teammate of them and I can’t buy them lunch and I could have when I was up there. I wish I could’ve had some more time up there with some of those guys.”
Did it feel like Bo Pelini was almost re-recruiting you to stay in Lincoln and choose football?:
“A little bit, but not too much. I was just like every other player. He knew coming into it that there was a baseball side of it and I could possibly go my baseball route and play for the Kansas City Royals. He was just real supportive with all of it and, at the end, he was real supportive when I called and I just told him good luck.”
Was making a deal with the Royals at the last minute before the deadline exciting or harrowing?:
“It was exciting but it was also nerve-wracking. I was just anxious. I was wanting to get the deal done so bad. … It was fun getting to do all the great things I did in high school and now transitioning from high school to professional baseball, I’m just excited.”
What happened with your game to make you go from perhaps a second-round pick to being the top position player picked in the draft?:
“A lot of people didn’t think I was playing that much competition here in Kansas and they kind of wanted to see what I could do against some other guys around the U.S. I think getting to play on Team USA and getting to travel around and play in some different showcase deals, that helped me out a lot. I got to show the scouts and some of the coaches out there what I could do.”
Do you have a personal timetable you’ve set on how long you want it to take to get to the big leagues?:
“I haven’t really thought about it too much. I just want to work as hard as I can the next few years. It’s going to take a little bit of time, of course. … Hopefully I can make it up here whenever, hopefully soon.”