B Game? Q&A IV
After a long day of travel to Philly and back (flight left at 6:30am and we returned around 4PM) I felt good on the mound. I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Mr Henry who flew us up and back on his plane today, something he did not have to do but did anyway. Not surprising given what kind of person he is.
The service for Vuke was incredibly well done and there had to be 3-400 people there. I saw friends and former teammates that pretty much spanned my 21 years in baseball. The service was a great tribute to a great man and incredible friend.
Not sure what tonight’s game would qualify as, since it was done with no defense and 6-8 hitters.
Worked my pitch count up to 80 and was told my last three FB were 93-94 so the arm strength is coming. Had very spotty command with it but I felt that all four of my off speed pitches got better. Threw more change ups and a higher % of good ones. The split was definitely better in the bullpen, pretty much the best it’s been in 2 years, which was a great sign. Slider felt great and the curve ball was better than normal as well.
Arm and legs felt strong and I don’t think 80 pitches was anywhere near the limit, so that was another great sign. Broke a few bats with the 2 seamer and also got a few outs, and some swings and misses on the change up, overall it feels better every day.
Had a great chance to talk to some of the younger pitching prospects in the organization today who came over to watch and also throw, including Daniel Bard, Rozier and a young man named Masterson. I apologize for not remembering names but it was pitching day so I didn’t hear very much.
I do know that both Rozier, a big lefty, and Masterson, a big righty, can throw. Both kids had very live arms and good breaking stuff.
Next up will be Sunday and it looks like a minor league start is in order. We are playing to O’s on Sunday and it looks like we get them on my NEXT start as well, so I may end up throwing against them next week depending on the schedule.
Now to answer some more questions.
Q-What makes Boston different than other cities in sports?
A-I think it would be easier to say what doesn’t make Boston different? To play on this team, in this town, is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve always likened a Red Sox season to 162 game Packers football season with 19 super bowls mixed in. NFL game day scrutiny, 162 times a year, nothing like it.
Q-An “expert” predicts Daisuke for 15 wins and a 3.75 ERA, how do I feel about that?
A-Um, let’s see. Not sure how to answer that one other than to say that prediction is probably worth less than the paper it’s printed on. I look at him as an unknown commodity, in a great way. This kid is so polished for a 26 year old. He’s pitched his best in the biggest games of his life, which usually means predictions about him suck. I think there will be a learning curve but I think his will be less steep than most, he’s that talented. I don’t think he’ll show up and throw 99 his first start out, I don’t think he has to. He’s got command of 5 pitches, including a 92-94mph fastball, and that’s more than enough to win big in this league. He’s certainly going to be doing it in the games toughest division to pitch in, in my opinion. I think he’s going to have a phenomenal season when all is said and done and those numbers I think are very pessimistic.
Q-What’s my opinion of Daisuke’s first ‘bad’ outing?
A-It’s spring training. We had spoken about some things and he mentioned his desire to begin to work around in the strike zone, specifically up in the zone, during that game. Hitters are very different from the league he’s coming from and he is very astute at watching things when he’s on the mound. I’d love for him to throw 30 scoreless innings down here, but at the end of the day I don’t care, as long as we leave Florida healthy everything should be fine.
Q-How do I think Andy Pettite will do?
A-Andy’s Andy. I mean the guy has been a winner his whole career and there’s no reason to think that will change. Andy Pettite, to me anyway, is a feel guy, he knows how to feel his way through a game and win when he’s not ‘on’. Not many guys can do that. I’ve always loved watching him pitch because he competes at another level. He’s got the makeup to compete within himself, which I think all good to great pitchers do.
Q-What’s with Beckett and the HB in the Detroit game?
A-Nothing. Josh threw a FB in to Sheffield that hit his arm guard, and hit Ordonez with a curveball that Mags leaned the wrong way on. I do know this, if you do not establish the inner half of the plate vs. Gary Sheffield you won’t get him out. Still one of the quickest bats in the game, Sheff has immense plate coverage and he can pull a bullet. You better make sure he knows you’ll come inside or you won’t get him out.
Q-If I wasn’t playing baseball what would I be doing?
A-I’d be running 38 Studios full time.
Q-How did Johnny Podres help me?
A-Johnny Podres, to this day, is still the best and smartest person I have ever met when it comes to pitching. Johnny had a way of making his pitchers think and do the unthinkable. His style was all about positive reinforcement. He never let anyone talk bad about his pitchers, including themselves. He taught me just how good the fastball down and away was, and how everything in the game worked off of that pitch. Once you mastered that pitch the gates opened and anything became possible.
Q-Have I ever thought of writing a biography?
A-Yes, and no. I actually spend an entire spring training in 2005 with Dennis Maniloff doing just that. But after all was said and done it’s just not something I could do. So much of what happens in this life is stuff that can’t be talked about, or told. There’s an expected level of trust in a clubhouse that writing a book would give away. Unless you are going to go the Jim Bouton route and not care who’s life you screw up, or you lie, it’s not going to be something worth reading really.
Q-Do accomplished pitchers get more favorable calls?
A-We used to. No doubt in my mind that before Questec the plate could get bigger for guys that could consistently hit the glove. There were a few umpires that were larger than normal, Frank Pulli, Eric Gregg, but mainly veteran pitchers that could consistently hit the glove were rewarded. Questec changed all that. Now umpires are calling balls and strikes for grades and the zone has changed. That might sound like a good thing but when you understand the details of the scoring system it’s not.
Having said that I don’t care. Would I like balls to be called strikes? Sure thing. Do I put together a game plan that relies on balls being called strikes? No chance. I can assure you that hitters and pitchers are looking for exactly the same thing from umpires, and that’s consistency. If it’s strike one then it better be strike three, same for balls. I feel good enough about my command that if you show me the corners of the strike zone that’s where I will work.
One of the big stats I started to use last year was the umpire stats that have started to come out. Umpires are now ranked by most K’s, most BB’s. Those stats don’t lie, you get a guy back there that tends to score high in walks per game, you can bet he’s smaller. Same for the strikeout guys. It’s all about consistency though, for both sides. That’s all we want from umpires.
Q-How did I become a Christian?
A-Real simple one there. In 1997, in the midst of my first real big year, I was driving home from the park and wondering just what in the hell this was all for. What was I living my life for? Who was I living my life for? I had two children and no idea what the whole goal and purpose was for anything in life? I was making stupid money, my marriage is awesome, I have two lovely wonderful healthy kids, but at the end of the day who was I living my life for? When I figured it out, or thought I had, I gave my life to Christ and have never looked back.
Q-How did I get involved with ALS?
A-In 1992 I met a man named Dick Bergeron. Through a wonderful woman named Ellyn Phillips, the President of the Philadelphia ALS Chapter. Dick was recently diagnosed with ALS. Shonda and I were looking to commit ourselves to something off the field, something we could do that would change and impact peoples lives given the small window of opportunity baseball afforded us and ALS turned out to be the thing.
Q-Do players get upset with teammates that don’t talk to the media?
A-Hell no. Players only get bothered, in my opinion, by teammates that make the media turn to other teammates. Guys that get the media scurrying around the clubhouse for additional quotes, things like that. To each his own, no one cares who does and doesn’t talk to the media as long as players aren’t creating headaches inside the clubhouse.
Q-Do I work with Autism?
A-Yes. I have a former teammate, and friend, named Greg Swindell who has a son with Autism that I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to help at various times with.
Q-Best hitting pitcher I’ve ever faced?
A-Easy answer, Mike Hampton.
Q-Difference between pitching in the rotation and the bullpen.
A-Night and day for me. The ability to have a structured routine is the great thing about being a starter. That’s offset by that every day adrenaline I got from being in the bullpen, knowing you might pitch every day. I think the main thing though is routine. As a starter I can plan out my month, as a reliever you have to plan day to day.
Q-East Coast vs. West Coast baseball?
A-Not to lump them all together, because SF and Seattle fans are pretty cool, but in the west baseball games are things people hang out at, go to, and check out. In the East baseball and the teams are a way of life. In New England you have Catholicism and Red Sox Baseball, and not necessarily in that order. 2001 in Arizona was incredible, but more times than not it takes a great season or special event to sell out stadiums with fans that are rabid, back east it’s a way of life. If you have a team in the East and you draw poorly, you’re screwing something up as an organization because these fans are dying to love their teams and get committed.
Q-How do you get young boys to commit to working hard to be good at baseball?
A- You don’t. Young boys, and I have three, are going to work hard and be good at what they want to, nothing else. If you have to push your kids to want to be good then you’re pushing a kid that’s going to stop the second you aren’t controlling them. Kids have a billion more outlets today than they did even 10 years ago. I’ve already made if very clear to my oldest son Gehrig that I don’t care if he plays baseball, but whatever it is he chooses to do I want him to be as good as he possibly can at it. That’s my only concern when it comes to my kids, be the best, or at least try to, if you aren’t then you aren’t but it’s never going to be from lack of effort. They’ll find their niche, whether it’s acting, playing the piano, baseball, teaching, I don’t care, just push yourself.
Q-Do Tek and I keep the same notes?
A-No. Think about this a second. Tek needs to keep notes on hitters for anywhere from 12-15 pitchers, I keep notes on hitters and how they act/react to me.
Q-Is the diagnosis for ALS hard to pin down?
A-I can only speak to what I’ve seen over the last 15 years. I would guess that 95+% of the patients I have met took around a year before ALS was the definitive diagnosis. Most know well ahead of time, but it takes a very long time because I think doctors work their butts of to rule out anything even remotely possible before they diagnose ALS.
Q-What am I thinking when Tito comes to the mound?
A-Turn around and get your butt back in the dugout is usually first. I would hazard to guess that I am usually livid at the fact that I:
A) Just shook off Tek, did something stupid and lost us the game
B) Didn’t listen to myself, did something stupid and lost us the game
C) Just shook off Tek AND didn’t listen to myself, then did something stupid and lost us the game.
Q-What was my reaction to Daisuke when he signed?
A-I was ecstatic. I had seen very little of him to that point but knew he was incredibly talented and knew we’d just given ourselves another top of the rotation starter. It was more affirmation that the ownership of this team was going to put a world series caliber team on the field.
Q-What are the plans for 38 Studios?
A-We are in the very early stages of pre-production of our first title. There is an immense amount of work being done in all areas. We have pretty much finished hiring at this point as our core team is almost completely in place. Brett and a team of people had a terrific week at GDC last week, making more inroads into the industry and meeting with many potential partners we are talking with. We are continuing to talk with investors, VC’s and others as we are presenting a truly unique opportunity with this initial IP as well as our long term goals going forward. We are looking for that special someone(s) that ‘gets it’, and ‘gets us’ and understands that we are after strategic partnerships instead of having people throw money our way. Our partnerships must bring something to the table beside money as our long term goals are dependant on some things outside of our area of focus. There will be some upcoming news over the next few weeks as well. I am looking forward to getting more in depth about 38 Studios and what we are doing as time goes by.
Q-What do I think of the hypocrisy of writers who blast Manny for not talking to the media and call me a loud mouth for talking too much?
A-It’s humorous really. I saw it in Arizona as well. Matt Williams was labeled the same way. Matt wanted to show, play, and go home. Guys wrote horrible stuff because he didn’t talk to them. Those same guys would come to my locker, ask me questions, sit there and nod approvingly, ya, uh huh, I see, then write about me talking to much. It’s there, you deal with it. You learn that a lot of them do what they do to hear themselves talk. They are as interested in being the story as they are in writing it. The problem is that fans actually believe some of these guys are ‘experts’?
Here’s one. I am in the training room today and there was some ESPN sports talk show on, Jay Marriotti is waxing poetic about his NFL expertise. He says “The Patriots spent almost 120 million on these contracts, given that the Colts haven’t done anything I think the Patriots have to be considered a favorite in the AFC next year”. Holy crap! You actually get paid for that Zen like wisdom? A guy who gets the meat of his stories from sitting on the couch at home, watching TV, like 2 billion other sports fans is an ‘expert’ on sports? Please. Once you realize guys like him exist it becomes easy to laugh at the stuff they do. Woody Paige is another one, the next time Woody Paige says something insightful and smart about sports will be the first.
Q-Shaugnessy and Conlin think you are self serving, how does that make you feel?
A-Dan Shaugnessey once wrote a column about Roger Clemens. In that column Dan writes about how Roger pitched a game, left the ballpark after he came out, before the game was over, and what a gamer that made him. He wanted to win so bad he couldn’t stand to be around ‘losers’. That same guy writes a column in 2004 about Pedro Martinez, who pitched a game, left the ballpark after he came out, before the game was over, and what a jerk he is, what a bad guy.
Bill Conlin wrote a LENGTHY article in which he made his argument for NOT voting for Nolan Ryan for the Hall of Fame. Bill stated that he didn’t vote for Nolan because Don Sutton didn’t get in on the first ballot, so Nolan shouldn’t. Soon after that, in Tampa Bay, I called him out in the clubhouse on it, how he should be embarrassed by the fact that he used the hall of fame voting ballot as a personal soap box. At the end of the argument, and there are witnesses, he admitted it wasn’t the right thing to do. Not to mention that in a few appearances after that in which Bill and I were on the same show, he asked that I not bring that up.
Those two columns right there are as self serving as you can get, so no, I don’t get worked up when self serving people call me self serving. I talk to the media because part of what I do, win or lose, is stand at my locker and answer questions about the game. I was taught that was part of the job when you are in the big leagues. I can’t stand around and answer questions after I pitch well, and not stand around when I don’t. In between starts I will talk to reporters that are doing stories they want to ask me questions about if I have time, but I turn down more than I say yes to, believe it or not. The one and only time I plead guilty to taking the initiative is sports talk radio and I can’t say exactly why that is. I just hate when ‘experts’ say things that are stupid and fans buy into it. The Butch Stearns Pedro thing was a perfect example. Someone I had never met, didn’t even know, was on the air ‘explaining’ what he knew about our relationship, and could not have been more wrong. When all was said and done and Pedro aired out his issues with the media and the team it had to do with them, and not me. Pedro and I got along fine and no one rooted harder for him to deal every time out than I did.
Q-Why associate with the Republican Party? Blah blah blah.
A-The question that could open Pandora’s box. Bottom line is I don’t associate myself with either party. I don’t vote on party lines and never will. I vote for the candidate I feel is the best person for the job. Was President Bush flawless? Nope. Has anyone ever been? Nope. Having said that I won’t add to the crap that’s out there, and disparage the ultimate sacrifice made by thousands of men and woman over the last 4 years, too many other second guessers doing that already. The amazing thing to me is the fact that only about 50-60% of this country that can vote, does. It seems we have been locked into voting for the candidate we least dislike in local elections rather than the person that we know is going to do a great job.
Q-Favorite all time pitcher?
A-Roger Clemens. I think, given the era he pitched in, he’s going to go down as the best ever.
Q-How is Jon Lester doing?
A-Jon looks fantastic. He’s doing great. I think they are taking it slower than he would like but all things considered I think it’s the most underreported story in sports right now. It’s an awesome thing to see on a daily basis.
Q-Do I have a brother that served in the military? Specifically was my brother one of the men in Blackhawk Down?
A-Weird story. No my brother is not the Schilling in Blackhawk Down. But, my cousin served in that very Delta Force unit, and was one of the main characters in the movie.