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Mikolas dishes on 'Lizard King' nickname

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After all the formalities were complete -- a two-year contract signed and questions about his evolution as a pitcher answered -- the conversation with new Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas turned to the topic that still has everyone intrigued.

A lizard? Really?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After all the formalities were complete -- a two-year contract signed and questions about his evolution as a pitcher answered -- the conversation with new Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas turned to the topic that still has everyone intrigued.

A lizard? Really?

While those who followed Mikolas' time in Japan will find a pitcher who reinvented himself during three standout seasons, others have been transfixed by his nickname: the Lizard King.

"Until I do something worthy of another nickname, I guess it'll have to stick for now," Mikolas said from the Winter Meetings, where he had come to officially sign his contract on Wednesday.

It's a nickname Mikolas was branded with in 2011, after he accepted his teammates' dare to eat a live lizard. At stake was the opportunity to have his Arizona Fall League dues paid for a month.

Video: Miles Mikolas talks his success in Japan

"At that time, a couple hundred bucks, I thought, 'This is a steal for one quick little lizard,'" Mikolas said.

What happened next is still documented on YouTube. After dousing the lizard with Mountain Dew, Mikolas went for it. The lizard went down, a new nickname emerged and Mikolas went on to pitch that afternoon. The episode has been a popular talking point since.

"It's not something I'm ashamed of," Mikolas said. "I was young. It was a funny thing that I did. But hopefully I can do something else that will make people think of my name instead of just my diet."

And, no, Mikolas added, he has not tried another lizard since.

"It's actually really funny," Mikolas said. "My wife can attest that I'm actually a really picky eater for the most part, so going for the lizard was outside my range of comfort."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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