There’s a player on the Seattle Mariner’s team who struck me from the first time I saw him pitch as a person to watch.

The Mariners agreed with me — he pitched his way into being the go-to “closer” for the team– the one they get in at the very final innings of the game to relieve the “starter” and any other relief pitchers who have come in through the game.

I am not sure what bone structure I see in this young man’s face, but both face and body language are really beautiful to watch.  He takes his pitching very seriously and doesn’t make many mistakes.  He is young.  His eye is keen.  His arm is strong.  And he maintains a kind of calm that looks to me as if he knows how to “get in the zone.”

Seeing a person “in the zone” doing what they do best is a treat in any field.  To a visual person he is poetry in motion.

I got some photos of him from the Mariner’s website and began to draw this week.  From the largish rough drawing, I move to the computer to get a different eye on the work and to do some analysis.  I compare the computer printout with my original photo printout and see where it’s “off”.  Then go back to the painting on the easel and make corrections.

Ruiz profile image

I haven’t “nailed it” yet.  My drawing is looking lumpy, as usual, at this stage.  But I’m looking and drawing, which is the best way I know of to really SEE what is going on with the smooth planes of his face and what it is that draws me to his particular structure with the very long and fairly flat, but very beautiful nose– his steady dark eyes and his almost innocent looking, dramatically contoured mouth.

He is so young. 23. So smooth.  So lithe. 

He leans over so his upper body is nearly parallel to the ground as he readies himself for the pitch.  He stared at the batter and the plate.  And, like a cat slowly opening up to leap on prey he curls his body, bringing back the throwing hand while bringing that left knee up, and then he delivers the ball, fast, accurate, and deadly smart into the hitting zone.  He strikes a lot of people out.  He is relentless


And his demeanor does not change until the game is over.  Then he gets such a boyish smile on his face– almost shy-looking grin and then relaxes away from his concentration and exuberantly celebrates with the catcher (another story worth drawing about) and the teammates with high fives, low fives, special swats and leaps and bumps that they have all worked out to a dance in itself.  A glint of white teeth, and he disappears until another game is on TV.



DIAZ Seattle Closer prelim sketch


I am describing his kind of beauty to my daughter and can only think of the same quality in one other public person I am smitten with, and that is Jessye Norman, the stunning, and very famous opera singer.

Jessye Norman image

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