Q & A XII and some observations
Congratulations to my wife Shonda who completed her third Boston Marathon in 4:53. She never stopped, ran the whole way for the first time as well. I can’t fathom the mental grind they go through to complete this race (nor will I ever) but kudos to all those who finished the race. More importantly the Shade Foundation team (www.shadefoundation.org) raised over $115,000 dollars in the process.
I know I am speaking for my family, and the Red Sox family as well when I send our thoughts and prayers out to the families of the victims in Virginia. Senseless violence is becoming way too common in this country. God Bless all of those affected by this horrible tragedy.
Also wanted to send thoughts and prayers to Alex Gonzalez and his family. I have heard that his youngest child is very ill and wanted to make sure he knew that the guys in Boston were thinking of him and his family.
Matsuzaka-san was electric yesterday. If the turf in Toronto doesn’t skew a well hit ground ball he could have easily walked away giving up no runs. All of you fantasy ‘guru’s’ who dismissed the hype missed out on a legitimate stud. The slider I had heard so much about made an extended appearance yesterday. That lineup, even without Glaus or Johnson, has some pop and he pitched his butt off. Chacin mixed his cutter, fastball and change all day and their bullpen closed the door. I’ve always liked the Frasor kid alot and I don’t think they’ll be in as dire straits as some other teams might have been losing a premiere guy like BJ as their closer. While I am glad we don’t have to face BJ here’s to hoping the elbow is nothing serious and he’s back throwing his elbows and knees all over AL fields again soon.
Q-What is the dynamic like after the game if a reliever comes in and blows a game for a starter? I am sure the reliever feels worse than anyone. Does he usually apologize? Does the starter go out of his way to let him know it’s ok? What happens if the same reliever keeps blowing games?
A-Just about every reliever will at some point apologize. As someone who’s been there and done that I feel bad for them feeling bad. Blowing a save is an insanely horrible feeling. I’ve never ever felt the need to have someone apologize for blowing a game. You know they’re trying to do everything they can to get it done.
Q-When you feel you’re pitching well, what percentage of the time do you miss your spots? What percentage of those misses end up hurting you?
A-30-40%. On good days it might never hurt you, on bad days every one of them ends up a hit. BABIP is a stat I’ve become aware of thanks to the SOSH folks and a stat I’ve tried to learn more about over the past 2 years.
Q-#1 Do you think that the loss of Papa Jack has anything to do with the struggling bats ?? I know Dave Magadan was a good hitter in his time, but is there a difference in hitting philosophy ?
A-Absolutely not. I am sure there is a difference in philosophy but no two coaches coach the same thing the same way.
Q-#2 How do you think Dice-K will react to 37,000 members of Red Sox Nation giving him a standing ovation ? I would be willing to bet he has never seen anything close to what he is about to.
A-I would beg to differ. Matsuzaka-san is near immortal in Japan. I had the pleasure of traveling and playing on the MLB team in 1997 in Japan and people in the U.S. have no idea the regard professional baseball players are held in Japan. They as big, if not bigger, than the most famous hollywood movie stars are here. They can go nowhere in public without a human sea crashing on them. It’s mind blowing.
Q-Second, if you are going to me a go of this blog and the future it might promise to a prominent person in transition, writing and opinion are better served tersely. Work as hard on your writing as you do pitching. Be your toughest critic and editor. Twenty-five hundred words for a writer is indulgence. Set goals, eliminate crap, and boil it down to the essence.
A-I write what I feel. If the word count is a problem then I’ll deal with it. As has been made very clear over the last 20 years when I start, I sometimes cannot locate the ‘off switch’.
Q-If you know that your almost near the end of your pitch count, do you change what type of pitches you may throw?
A-I will almost always reach back on every single fastball I am throwing. Trying to maintain command above everything else, but also trying to make sure I empty the tank.
Q-I had a question about playing in Boston. It seems like a lot of players alternate between praising the passion of the fans, and complaining about the pressure of the media. Now I know some of the stories are just ginned-up controversies to try and get a story, but isn’t a frenzied media a byproduct of a frenzied baseball town? I just kind of wonder what your overall opinion of the incredibly high visibility does to the quality of life for you and your family. It seems the passion that makes Boston such a great place to play can also be one of the biggest drawbacks.
A-Boston, like any other city, is what the player makes it, period. Every city has it’s CHB to some degree. That miserable curmudgeon who will be the ‘anti-opinion’ guy because that’s the only niche he can fill. You come to realize that most times that person, or those people, are just bitter unhappy people and it has nothing to do with you in the end. If you allow people like that to skew your perspective on guys like McCadam, Bradford, Browne, Buckley, Maz, then you can miss the boat. Hey, Buck and Maz have had their moments, where the writer checked out and the fan checked in, but no other team brings that out in the media the way this city does in my experience. When you hear guys like Ryan do what he did this past winter in the conference with Theo, or you read weekly sludge from the Murray Chas’ of the world it gets easy to let it roll off your back. There are going to be bad people with rotten agendas in any workplace, you just laugh and move on.
Q-what is it about the split that’s made it such a seeming struggle over the last few years? I’ve got to believe if you have that pitch most of the year like you did last night that AL hitters are going to have a long frustrating year against you.
A-I can’t pinpoint it and the hardest part is that it is most likely one of the easiest pitches in the game to learn and throw. It literally is a ‘split-fingered’ fastball. Grab your fastball, split your fingers, throw, catch the ball, repeat. I think part of what makes a split ‘devastating’ is arm speed, and when you lose velocity, no matter how litte, you’re going to lose some of that bite you normally get with it.
Q-I’d like to request that Donnelly be appointed as the official set-up man for Schilling starts from know on.
A-If this is not Tito posting on the blog, which I seriously doubt, you wasted 5 minutes of your day.
Q-WHat, if anything, do you or the coaches say to Piniero after he walks the first two guys? He knows as much as anyone that walks in that situation are about the worst thing you can do, but does anyone say anything to him?
A-Like what? “Don’t walk this guy”…. It’s pretty much a given that we think like normal humans for the most part, we know we’re not supposed to throw balls, give up hits, runs. But at this level the guy on the other side is trying to beat you too.
Q-What do you think of the pitch counts as they relate to yourself? Do you feel that once you top 100 pitches, it is best to come out even if you are doing well?
A-Pitch counts are very game dependant. I can feel spent after 82 pitches of a 1-0 game in the 7th. I can feel first inning fresh after 105 pitches of a 8-0 game in the 8th. I have always felt starters could “go to the well” 2-3 times in a game, tops. If I have to do that two times in the first 3-4 innings chances are I’ve lost my chance to finish that game.
Q-However, after seeing you do it last night I couldn’t help but think of Rick and how cool it was to see his notebook. Any chance you can scan some old pages in and tell us what you write in there and how you use it?
A-You most likely couldn’t decipher the sanskrit anyway.
Q-This is probably the best baseball column I’ve ever read. You definitely having the makings of a great sports writer.
A-Not a chance.
Q-I have a sneaking feeling the questionable slot in our rotation will be addressed in the form of a current free agent who began his career here. What are your thoughts on the “likelyhood” of this coming to fruition?
A-No idea. Look, please don’t ask me what I know or don’t know about Roger and Boston. I can only tell you what I feel. It’s always been a dream of mine to pitch in the same rotation as Roger Clemens. There is no question he had a major impact on my career when he lectured in Houston after the 1991 season. We’ve talked over the years, not much but enough to know there is mutual respect I think. I will argue that given what he’s done in the era he’s done it in makes him the greatest pitcher to ever play the game. He and Josh are friends as well. I’d love for him to finish his career here as I think it would make for a perfect ending to his career. Given that the goof that ran him out of town is gone, and that the ownership and baseball people here have the utmost respect for what he did during his time in Boston, I think it could be a storybook finish for him here. Having said that I also can see the allure of Houston, since his son plays in that organization, and the NY ties are strong as well. I think Roger will come back for one more year. That’s nothing more than an opinion based on a few conversations with people that have talked to people more in the know than I am. I am hoping that the driving force in coming back will be to win one more world series because if that is the case I think of the three options they’ve made clear are most viable, we have a great case.
Q-If the catcher sets up with the glove on the outside part of the plate, and the pitch is on the inner half, it is always the pitcher’s fault? Do you ever try to set up a batter you think may be peeking by having the catcher set up one way and pitch to a different location? If so, how often might that happen? Once a game?
A-Yes. No and never. There are hitters that peek, and we are aware of who they are and address that accordingly but a catcher never sets up on the wrong side of the plate when a pitch is thrown that I know of. The balls hard enough to catch and frame properly when you are in the right spot. Not to mention umpires will often call a pitch that might be a strike, a ball, when the catcher has to reach across the zone to catch the pitch.
Q-That being said, I have a bone to pick with you. I remember distinctly after the great ‘04 World Series win that you used the national publicity to campaign for George W. Bush’s presidential re-election bid.
We were told by the Bush Administration that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
We were told by the Bush Administration that Iraq had connections to Al Quaeda and was partly responsible for 9-11.
We were told by the Bush Administration that Iraq was attempting to build nuclear weapons.
We were told by the Bush Administration that Iraq posed an immediate threat to the safety of the United States.
We were told that we would be greeted as liberators.
A-I don’t remember this one but ok.
All of the reasons used to justify invasion were untruths.
As a result of the US-led invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, it is estimated that 600,000 Iraqis have been killed and over 3,200 Americans have been killed.
A-I was always of the opinion that any country harboring terrorists, and backing the murder of innocent men, women and children as well as having a government that imposed it’s will on people who chose to freely speak anti-government or differing religous viewpoints could not claim themselves a sovereign nation.
As a Christian, do you regret your enthusiastic support for a man responsible for unjustified murder and bearing false witness? If you could go back in time, would you once again campaign for Bush?
A-No I don’t. I regret that thousands of Americans, and many other men and women from the NATO countries, as well as the hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children of Iraq have died as a result of the war. That I regret for anyone that’s had to pay that price. I also am proud as hell to know I live in a country that produces men and women who will travel around the world, because their government says so, to protect the freedoms and lives of people they don’t know. What other country on this planet has answered the call every single time since 1945? You can make claims that there are atrocities in Dafur and elsewhere that are more deserving and I am not sure you could argue against that in some cases, but the fact is that the U.S. took the baton after WWII to act as the worlds police force, when no one else could, or would, and has done so since then. Not perfectly and not without mistakes for sure, but we’ve done it. The U.S. could have fought a one front war in 1941 and ended the war in the pacific much sooner in my opinion, but we entered the european conflict for many reasons. Had we not done so we might be running around in a world where the primary language was German or Russian.
Q-So here’s my question. At what point is it more important for a guy like that to work on his offspeed stuff and secondary pitches? Should a guy like this go with what is working? Should he sacrifice some baserunners, and maybe some runs (and maybe even the game?), to work on these pitches? What’s the balance?What goes into deciding when you’re done in a given game? If it was totally up to you, would you complete a game like tonight’s when you were pitching very well but had thrown a good number of pitches?
A-I don’t think you can truly ‘work’ on perfecting a pitch until you’ve made it to the major leagues. I remember a guy in the SAL named Doug Linton, a huge prospect for the Blue Jays in the late 80s. He had a major league slider in A ball and his numbers reflected that. Guys that have big league ‘stuff’, be it a slider, change, curve, are very apparent in the minor leagues. However most prospects in the minors have ML ‘stuff’ because they throw hard. Their ‘stuff’ is velocity, and that gets you by many levels of the minor leagues. You compete every bit as hard there as you do here, so you are trying to impress, win games, get promoted. You can’t tell a guy that’s a competitor to go out and ‘practice’ a pitch they aren’t comfortable with. I was told very early on that it takes at least one year from the time you start working on a pitch to have that pitch be ready to get outs with in the big leagues. I am sure it’s different for many people but that’s held true for me for the most part. One thing I do know is that I have never felt confident enough to ‘work’ on a pitch at this level. I learned that early on. I threw my first change up, in the big leagues, in game 1 of the 1993 World series. The only game in my life where I tried to be a totally different pitcher. I thought I had to totally change to ‘trick’ the Blue Jays. I threw one change up, to Devon White, who CRUSHED the pitch for a home run. After that game John Vuckovich called me aside and literally beat me senseless. Made me realize that you pitch to your strengths, always.
Q-curt quick question is thier any extra emotions or stress on national tv apperances great game fox tv is really impressed with your performance today they are wondering if you want to go in the 9 th for shut out ,
A-For me absolutely not. The only ‘extra’ emotions or stress for me are post season games. There is an entirely new set of highs in October that you don’t get in April to September games.