Since joining the Winnipeg Goldeyes just over two weeks ago, Mike Kusiewicz hasn't stopped moving his lips.
Or at least it seems that way. Fehlandt Lentini suddenly has some verbal competition in the Fish clubhouse.
"Mike has a good time," Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said. "His personality is not one that's going to rub you the wrong way. He's not arrogant or brash, or anything like that. He's very personable and gets along with the guys. He likes to joke around and have a good time when he's here at the park. You can tell he's really enjoying this. I'm enjoying watching him."
The lefty Canuck, picked up by Forney at the end of June (he jumped on Kusiewicz when the Edmonton Cracker-Cats couldn't come to terms with the veteran after a lengthy term on the inactive list), hasn't just been talking a good game, though. He's been showing it on the mound. His four starts have produced a 2.39 ERA -- tops among the starters. He's given up just 26 hits 261/3 innings.
But there appears to be more to Kusiewicz (pronounced COO-sev-itch) than some impressive numbers and an ability to make a huge amount of small talk. His presence on the mound is just as large as his personality.
Just as lively as his fastball or as effective as his change-up.
"That's a by-product of who he's around, I think our whole team is kind of into (games) right now," Forney said. "But just by watching Mike pitch, you can see he's pretty excited about his turn in the rotation every fifth day."
Animated. Yes. Out-going. Definitely. Emboldened. Is that a word?
What about cocky?
"Confident, sure," the 30-year-old and veteran of 13 seasons offers instead, quickly removing himself from the rooster-like descriptor. "I hope everyone is. I hope when a hitter gets a bat in his hands he thinks he's going to whoop me. If you go out there with no attitude ... I'm not going to let people intimidate me. You have to realize, I'm having a blast playing again. I went through a few years of just being angry at the game, which was stupid of me. I want to have a good time here, but don't get me wrong. I know where to draw the line between fun and when it's game time."
Kusiewicz also knows where to draw the line between the game and what really matters to him. The southpaw will be away from the Fish for four days later this month to run his baseball camp in Ottawa (mikesbaseballcamps.ca).
He pitched a short start Friday, will throw another short outing at some point in Calgary this week (either the Tuesday or Wednesday) and then throw another short outing next Sunday in Fargo before heading to the nation's capital on July 23rd. Should the rotation hold up, he'll be back on the Fish hill July 27th against Edmonton.