Sleepy third baseman enjoying dream season

Sarah Mitchell

Sleeping is a human need, but Gophers third baseman Matt Scanlon takes the necessity to an extreme.
Freshman reliever Kurt Haring estimated his roommate averages 11 hours of sleep a day.
But while Scanlon — “Sleepy” to his teammates — misses nearly half of every day, it sounds like the third baseman has become quite functional in his sleep.
Center fielder Mike Arlt shared a story from the team’s spring trip to San Diego, when he and first baseman Robb Quinlan roomed with Scanlon during the week.
“When we were down in San Diego, he sleepwalked one night and scared the crap out of Quinny. I guess he just got out of bed, jumped over Quinny on the floor, went over and opened up our sliding glass window at our hotel and then woke up,” Arlt said. “He had no idea how he got over there. Quinny thought it was like a burglar or something.”
Scanlon is not only a sleepwalker, but also a sleeptalker. The third baseman has been so chatty, Haring has found himself sleeping in the living room.
“He went out there for like a week straight because I wouldn’t shut up,” Scanlon said.
Other than his bothersome sleeping habits, Haring said his roommate is a quiet guy. Perhaps the only time he shows his emotions is after a long day at the ballpark.
“When he has a tough game, he is usually pretty upset at home,” Haring said.
This season, that hasn’t been too often.
The Richfield, Minn., native has etched his name in the lineup as the team’s starting third baseman since recovering from a broken finger.
The sophomore said he was intimidated last year because he didn’t want to ruin the season for the rest of the starters, who were mostly seniors.
“My first real starts were in the Big Ten, so it was kind of a big step because there is a little more pressure than a non-conference game,” Scanlon said. “So, I struggled a little bit starting out, but I settled down.”
Although Scanlon has become the team’s third baseman, Minnesota recruited him as a catcher.
“I love catching. I still have to learn how to block,” Scanlon said. “In the infield when you use your glove you aren’t thinking about blocking the ball.”
Scanlon might have trouble blocking the ball, but he rarely suffers an offensive block. He came out of his worst slump of the year before the Illinois series and now has the secret to avoiding another breakdown.
“Scanny gets into a hitting streak one day because he didn’t run before the game,” freshman Josh Holthaus said. “Now he doesn’t run before the game ever.
Scanlon has found his home in the lineup as the number two hitter., but sometimes he feels neglected with Robb Quinlan batting in the lead-off position.
“Everytime he is up, he either gets a double or a home run,” Scanlon said. “When I get up there people are still talking about it in the stands and they don’t even know what I did because they are still talking about Quinlan. I am waiting for him to settle down a little bit. It’s like I am the forgotten player.”
But Scanlon adds, “As long as he is hitting, I am happy.”
Scanlon plans to return to St. Cloud for summer ball, where he played last year with Gophers teammates Matt Brosseau, Mark Groebner and Jeremy Negen. Even though the extra season is long, it’s all part the ultimate goal to make it professionally.
Pro ball runs in the family, as his uncle Pat Scanlon signed into the majors out of high school and played third base for the San Diego Padres, Montreal Expos and St. Louis Cardinals.
“He wasn’t a real big name player, but was real good,” Scanlon said.
In talking with Scanlon, it is apparent who his role models are.
“The thing about my uncles and my dad is that they don’t give advice unless I ask for it,” Scanlon said. “Some dads are quick to jump in, but my dad just lets me play.”
And play is all Scanlon does, as he is not the most vocal member of the team. Scanlon leads in other ways.
“I try to lead by example. I would feel like I were a fake if I started telling people what to do,” Scanlon said. “So I just work hard and show a good work ethic.”
The recreation and leisure studies majors hopes to someday work with people suffering from sleep disorders — an area he knows a thing or two about — but he wouldn’t mind extending his baseball career.
“If it happens, it happens,” Scanlon said about pro ball. “In high school, I always wanted to turn pro, but now it’s like you hear so many things about the Major Leagues, it kind of gives it a bad image.”