PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – It was quite a ride for Jacob Stallings the last 12 months, going from relative obscurity as a Pirates minor league catcher, to being recognized as the son of the Pitt head basketball coach, making his major league debut, later a walk-off hit and then riding the rollercoaster that was the Panthers basketball season.
All of that was not the best thing that happened to him. The birth of his first child earlier this month tops the list. Stallings is still getting used to being a dad, saying he Facetimed his wife and son about five times in a few hours the other day.
Depending on the severity of the groin injury to Chris Stewart, Stallings may find himself in the majors to start the year. The Bucs already sent Elias Diaz to minor-league camp, leaving Stallings as the backup for now.
“The handling of the staff is consistent, his ball blocking abilities are consistent, game calling, the bat has shown up good, he’s had the short stoke through the ball all Spring Training,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “He’s done a very nice job with the opportunities he’s been given this year. We have a lot of confidence in Jacob.”
“Being up in the big leagues last year for the first time gave me that sense of confidence that I can do this and I belong here,” Stallings said. “This spring has been good having a relationship with most of the guys this year.”
Stallings said it’s an ironic contrast because he likes and roots for Stewart and Francisco Cervelli and wants them to be healthy. However, he would like to get back to the major leagues. In his limited action last season, Stallings was 6 for 15 with 2 RBI and a stolen base.
The 27 year-old will eventually feel the helplessness of watching his son perform, but he has a bit of experience already, in watching his father coach.
“I get more nervous for his games than I was for any of mine, except for my big league debut,” Stallings said. “I don’t really like watching his games with other people, it’s not a pretty sight.”
Pitt finished the season 16-17 and as we found out, Kevin Stallings was not afraid to tell us what was wrong with his team or when players weren’t doing what he wanted.
“He’s honest and maybe a little too honest at times, but that is just who he is,” Jacob Stallings said. “Integrity is very important to him, he holds himself to a standard in that high regard. He holds his players to a high standard in that regard. He might rub people the wrong way sometimes, but I think at the end of the day he’s trying to help guys grow into men. People see winning as priority number one, but I think a lot of times, especially at the college level, it’s helping those guys grow into men.”
So when Jacob was playing high school sports, was his father as honest with him?
“I remember after one of my high school basketball games, I didn’t play well,” Stallings said. “We got in the car after the game and I asked him, ‘What did you think?’ And his response was, ‘Well, do you really want to know what I think?’”
Stallings admits it’s tough to see criticism of his dad, saying he’s probably way too invested in his basketball, noting a lot of people don’t have any idea what goes on behind the scenes.
“That’s part of what comes with his job, public criticism. It doesn’t make it any easier to hear people say negative things about people you love. It’s part of it, he deals with it fine. I deal with it probably not as fine as him, but that’s alright,” he said.