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Batista moonlights as author

Batista moonlights as author

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- The value of preparation is certainly not lost on Mariners pitcher Miguel Batista.

It manifests itself in a number of ways for the 36-year-old, who signed a three-year, $25 million contract in December to bolster the Mariners' starting rotation.

The first is how well Batista maintains his body and the meticulous routine he follows every day, a program of weightlifting and cardiovascular work each morning before most of his sleepy-eyed teammates arrive to the team's Spring Training complex.

"When you're young, you're so full of energy," Batista said, glancing around a clubhouse numbered with younger players, some 15 years his junior. "But when you're older, you're like a sniper ... you don't want to waste as many bullets."

Batista's mental preparation is something to behold, and it's not just the way the 11-year veteran approaches his day job, either. No, it goes much deeper than that.

Sit down and talk with Batista for any length of time, and the topic of baseball quickly fades away, unless you're persistent. Batista has other things on his mind, thoughts that often end up in a three-ring binder filled with painstaking notes for his next book.

That's right, his next book.

Batista is the first Latin American professional player to publish a book of poetry. He also wrote a book that was published last year titled "The Avenger of Blood." It was a story about a 14-year-old serial killer and how the legal system deals with temporary insanity.

Batista is knee deep in research for his next novel titled "DNA 18," which deals with the issue of cloning. When he's not pitching or working out, you'll find Batista on a stool in front of his locker with his headphones on, highlighting passages in his three-ring binder.

"I find it interesting," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said of Batista's interest in writing. "He's a very focused guy. His approach doesn't seem very complicated; he just does what he finds interesting."

Seattle manager Mike Hargrove was unaware of Batista's off-the-field interests, but he admitted he hasn't had too many conversations with his pitcher. Hargrove has noticed that he isn't much like many of his other teammates.

"There's a lot more to him than meets the eye," said Hargrove, in what might well qualify as the understatement of the century.

While many of his teammates watch television, listen to music or work on crosswords puzzles in their spare time, Batista is thinking ahead about his next publication. That equates to diving head first into one of his favorite endeavors -- research.

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"Research is amazing -- I really think I learned more in writing this book than I did in a whole year in school," Batista said. "You bring one question, and you'll end up with 300 answers and 500 more questions. That's the beauty of research."

While researching "The Avenger of Blood," Batista spent a great deal of time with judges, lawyers and rabbis. The book took 5 1/2 years and four different uniforms to write -- Montreal, Kansas City, Arizona, Toronto and later Arizona again. He squeezed in as much research and writing as he could. A self-proclaimed night owl, Batista would stay up late, especially on the road after games to write.

Batista also spent time at the Arizona State Prison and even the Maricopa Psychiatric Hospital when he was with the Diamondbacks from 2001-03 and then again last season.

"The problem wasn't about finding the time to write as it was the subject," Batista said. "When you write a book about the court of law and one of the most difficult things to prove -- temporary insanity -- you have to spend a lot of time researching it to make the story believable. There were a lot of years of interviewing people, finding answers here and there."

Batista's introduction to writing came when he was 13 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was not allowed to watch anything on the family television but novellas -- a Spanish soap opera -- so he decided he could do better.

So Batista wrote one himself, and he hasn't stopped writing since.

"I have been a loner my whole life, so it was easier for me to write than talk to people," Batista said. "Writing is just like meditating. You get better with time. When you talk to writers, all of them tell you the secret to becoming a great writer is to keep writing. Don't ever stop criticizing yourself or trying to define yourself. Time will come when you'll be amazed with the things you can write."

Batista said he plans on writing long after his playing days are over. He has a contract with Trafford Publishing to write two more books over the next three or four years. Batista's over a year into his current project, though he won't give a timeline as to when it might be finished.

"It takes time," he said. "When you're going to write a story, you have to be accurate. Accuracy is what makes fiction more enjoyable."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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