Collmenter visits APS Nuclear Plant

Collmenter visits APS Nuclear Plant

PHOENIX -- D-backs pitcher Josh Collmenter hails from Homer, Mich., but this week, he got to experience life like Homer Simpson.

The right-handed pitcher, who is currently on the disabled list, had the unique experience to tour the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating station in Tonopha, Ariz. -- not much unlike the occupation of the long-running fictional cartoon character.

The idea for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came from the D-backs' longtime corporate partner, APS, after seeing Collmenter teach physics to his teammates during Spring Training.

"It's incredible, the ingenuity that goes into making ... not just one of these units, but three different ones, and they all operate the same way," said Collmenter of the largest power plant in the United States, which was built in the miid-1970s and opened in 1986. "It wasn't just how this place operates, but the safety behind how this place operates."

Throughout the five-hour visit, Collmenter donned containment gear and asked countless questions of APS representatives, who pointed out that the curious hurler did more research in advance than most visitors who have set foot in the closely guarded facility.

"It's great to tour people around, but Josh, with the interest he had and the questions he had, the technical questions, I loved it," said system plant manager Michael Navin. "We like ... people coming in here to see what we do, how we do it, and the more we can teach the public what we do and engage people to help us, it just shows you that nuclear power is vital to this country."

The 30-year-old made national headlines this spring when he began teaching early morning sessions with his teammates on topics ranging from the theory of relativity to the meaning of the lyrics of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."

When pressed to see if he could pass along the knowledge learned Tuesday in a way others could understand, Collmenter was confident that he would be able to do so.

"I think I could give them a rudimentary [explanation], especially if I had the schematic that shows each part," he said. "I could talk a little bit about the actual reactor in the core, the pressurizer and what that does, and then the actual steam going out to the turbines to the generator and the transformer." For a team that has become known for its Science of Baseball Program, this brought new meaning to that term.

"If we think a lot of things are going on at the same time in baseball, times that by a million for everything that has to go right for this to operate," said Collmenter. "We did talk about RPMs and how that relates to baseball as well, but if they can incorporate nuclear energy or fission into baseball, it would be pretty miraculous."