Quiet Bedard right at home

TIM BAINES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

You can take the kid out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the kid.

A look at his 7,300 sq.-ft. majestic home, surrounded by open fields, in the Sarsfield area, says a lot about Erik Bedard, maybe the Ottawa area's best-kept secret of a multimillionaire.

A pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, Bedard will earn $7.75 million this year. While his secluded home has plenty of bells and whistles, you won't find him out around town, flaunting his wealth. And even if he was, you likely wouldn't recognize him. Unlike Senators stars like Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, Bedard flies under the radar, just the way he likes it.

"I don't really get recognized. If somebody asks me what my name is and I tell them it's Erik Bedard, they may say, 'There's an Erik Bedard who plays baseball.'

"And I say, 'Yeah, that's me.'

"I like it when I come back home. I just want to have a regular life. I'm shy, not as bad as when I was younger, but I'm still pretty shy.

"I don't think I've changed since I was drafted. I still have the same friends and I live five minutes from my parents. I don't get too involved in fame and hype.

"I live in the middle of the woods where nobody can see me."

He's good-natured and takes plenty of ribbing from his Major League teammates for his heritage.

'THEY CALL ME FRENCHY'

"They call me Frenchy," says Bedard, who has a slight American twang when he's speaking English now. "When they hear me speaking French on the phone, they say I'm talking Russian."

He moved into his "dream" home a couple of months ago. And what a dream it is. He's got a 60-inch Sharp TV in his living room and that's nowhere near a highlight of his "crib."

There's an eye-popping workout room, with two TV monitors and a hyperbaric chamber on top of state-of-the-art fitness equipment. After he had shoulder surgery in September, he'd immerse himself in the chamber 4-5 days a week.

His huge walk-in master bedroom closet houses a hundred or so pairs of shoes, mainly from Nike, which gives him a yearly merchandise contract. The home is very tastefully decorated, with Bedard relying on Thomasville Home Furnishings designer J.P. Paquette for advice.

"He has all the colours of everything in the house, even the carpets," says Bedard. "I guess (because of the business I've given him) he likes me."

WALK-IN BEER FRIDGE

He's got a walk-in beer fridge and a spacious wine cellar. He's got a cushy-seated theatre room, with projection TV and screen.

He's got an enormous games room/bar with a hickory floor. The room houses arcade games, including Big Buck Safari and Golden Tee.

"Everything in the house is everything I've always wanted," he says.

His dad, Normand, was in charge of assembling the entourage that built the house. While Bedard's enthusiasm for baseball has been questioned, there's no doubt he loves what he does.

"When I got drafted, it was one of the best feelings I've ever had," he says. "I was so nervous waiting to see if I'd get drafted, I was outside cutting the grass."

Bedard reported to the start of the Mariners' spring training camp in Peoria, Ariz., on the weekend.

COMING OFF INJURY

He's anxious to see how his arm stands up. Bedard, who went 6-4 with a 3.67 earned run average before having surgery in late September, had won 13 and 15 games the two previous seasons while with the Baltimore Orioles.

He was throwing pitches, with his brother and housemate Mark on the receiving end, in his enormous garage by early December. And he says he feels good now.

He throws a fastball, cutter, sinker and changeup, but it's his wicked curveball that's put the lefthander on the map. Not so long ago, former Orioles pitching coach Ray Miller said Bedard had the potential to be "as good as Johan Santana."

Bedard will become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season. Success this year could mean a multi-year contract worth in excess of $10 million a season.

A few years ago, Bedard told me: "I'm not famous yet. When I get famous, I'm going to hide. Back home."

You can bet his parents, the proud and supportive Nicole and Normand, are glad to have their boy close at hand.

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ERIK UP CLOSE

Cartoon you watched as a kid: The Simpsons

Favourite athlete as a kid: Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky

Favourite movies: The Shawshank Redemption, Iron Man, Major League, Transformers

Pitchers you look at: Johan Santana, CC Sabathia

Toughest hitter to face: "When I was with the Orioles, it was Gary Sheffield. He swings so hard."

Favourite sport as a kid: "I liked baseball and basketball. I stopped watching basketball when Michael Jordan retired."

Favourite wine: Merlot

Music: Hip-hop (T-Pain)


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