DiNardo shreds batters and guitars
A's pitcher establishes indie cred wherever he goes
Lenny DiNardo has a fastball, a curve, a cutter and a changeup. He also has a 1953 Gibson SJ, a 1964 J-50, a 1964 Epiphone Frontier, two 1979 Guild acoustics and a red Gretsch Electromatic.
The Oakland A's left-hander, who enjoyed a breakout 2007 in his first extended tryout as a Major League starter, has also managed to build quite a guitar collection in the last few years while wandering through American League cities in search of music shops.
Fortunately, his fiancée understands his obsession.
"She'd like a little more space for all of the guitars, because I have like 15 now and my closet's pretty much filled to the brim, but that's the only thing," he says with a smile. "She's OK. She's been great about it."
DiNardo considers himself a crafty pitcher and a connoisseur of rock n' roll music. He and teammates Rich Harden, Huston Street and Nick Swisher occasionally trade hotel-room guitar riffs during the season and also fill each other in on the latest and greatest from the "indie" rock scene.
Ask DiNardo to name his favorite bands and he can go on for hours, packing his sentences with some names you might have never heard of -- Oakland's own Rogue Wave, Travis, Smudge, My Morning Jacket, Eugene Kelly and the Vaselines -- and some big names from the past and present such as the Lemonheads, the Pixies, R.E.M. and the Beatles.
While with the Boston organization, DiNardo became entrenched in the Beantown rock scene. He befriended quite a few members of local bands such as the Figgs, Unbusted, the Dead Trees and the Gentlemen. He even spent a night jamming with Lemonheads leader Evan Dando.
And whether he planned it or not, he also ended up on stage three times, playing at local benefit shows and once playing alongside the popular Boston-bred rocker Juliana Hatfield of Blake Babies fame.
One might surmise that a baseball player used to pitching in front of constant sellout crowds at one of the rowdiest and most adrenaline-fueled stadiums in the game, Fenway Park, would not find a rudimentary three-chord rhythm guitar assignment a big deal. That wasn't exactly the case with DiNardo, however.
"I was real nervous," he says. "I looked like a fish out of water. I have terrible stage presence. I looked like the grizzly bear that just walked into the middle of Manhattan, like, 'What am I doing here?'
"But it was fun."
DiNardo, like most music-playing athletes, explains that rocking out in front of crowds of 2,000 or 3,000 is nothing at all like toeing the rubber in front of 50,000.
"On the baseball field, I don't have to think," he says. "Everything on the mound just kind of comes instinctually. Out there, I'm thinking, 'Alright, man on first base, turn two, this is the guy I'm throwing it to,' et cetera. But with guitar, it doesn't really come naturally to me. I'm kind of thinking the whole time, and you can tell I'm not really there.
"I'm just like, 'What's the next chord? What's the next chord?'"
So, is this Major League pitcher a burgeoning Major League guitar talent?
"I'm not going to quit my day job by any means," he says. "Right now, it's a hobby, something to kind of relax me. I don't really have any long-term goals with it. It's just more or less an escape. It's something I can do to get away for a while."