Gettin' Ziggy With It (vol. 16)

Hello from Sacramento! I was ready to post this yesterday, but the Internet service at the hotel wasn’t working properly. I apologize for the delay.

***SPECIAL NOTICE: TOMORROW, JUNE 1, THE RIVER CATS ARE HOLDING AN OPEN AUTOGRAPH PROMOTION. NEARLY THE ENTIRE TEAM (EXCEPT FOR MAYBE THE STARTING PITCHER/CATCHER) WILL BE SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS BEFORE THE GAME FROM 6:15-6:45. SHOW UP EARLY, AND MAKE SURE YOU SAY 'HI' WHEN YOU SEE ME!***

OK, so if you didn’t hear or read about it, at the end of last week, I was promoted to AAA and joined with the River Cats on Saturday on a road trip in Colorado Springs. Click here for details on my crazy Memorial Day Weekend travel schedule.

I had my first outing for Sac on Sunday – my first appearance in 8 days. I wasn’t hurt or anything...just never called upon to get in a game during that stretch. The rust was obvious to me, as I had a hard time getting ahead of hitters. I came in to start the 5th inning, and pitched until there was 2 outs in the 7th. The game was tied at 4 when I came out, with runners on 1st and 2nd. The next hitter bounced a ball through the right side, scoring the runner on 2nd, and giving me the loss in the 5-4 defeat. All-in-all, I felt like I pitched alright – just need to get in some more games to get the sharpness back that I had in my last few outings in Midland.

We flew home Monday evening after a day game, and it was another crazy travel night for me. One of my bags was not on the luggage carousel at the Sac airport, so I had to go file another missing luggage report. Then I went to pick up my rental car, which was originally a PT Cruiser (yuck! ...no offense to anyone that has one!). For starters, everything on the instrument panel was digital, and it was all set to use the metric system ("kilometers per hour" for my speedometer, "liters til empty" on the gas gauge, and "degrees Celsius" on the temperature indicator). On my way to the hotel, I got a call saying my lost bag (which was a baseball equipment bag I had used in college) had been taken to the clubhouse with the rest of the team’s equipment. I drove to the field to get it, and when I returned to my car, I tried to change the instrument panel to readings that were more familiar. As I was cycling through the system, I realized the gas tank was just a little more than half full. So I drove clear back to the airport, told them of their error, and they gave me a different car – a much sportier one. :-) So I finally got to the hotel around 2:30 AM pacific time that night.

Then last night, I came in at the start of the 7th inning at home vs. Albuquerque. We were down 4-3, and I pitched until there were 2 outs in the 9th (at that time, we were tied at 4). Then I walked a guy, and went 1-0 on the next hitter (I was starting to wear down), so I was taken out of the game, and Santiago Casilla came in and punched out the hitter to get us out of the inning. Then we scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the 9th, and won 5-4. Things were much better last night, command-wise. I was ahead in the count more and got several groundball outs.


Since I joined Sacramento...
River Cats record: 3-3  
My stat line: 2 G, 0-1, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 K, 1 BB

UPDATED SEASON STATS...
River Cats record: 31-22 (in 1st place -- 1.5 games ahead of Tucson)
All-level Cumulative: 4-1, 1 SV, 1.59 ERA, 28.1 IP, 8 R, 5 ER, 24 H, 21 K, 5 BB

AAA stats: 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 5.1 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 4 K, 1 BB
AA stats: 4-0, 1 SV, 1.17 ERA, 23.0 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 19 H, 17 K, 4 BB




Q&A:


*You're around the Midland club full-time...batting practice, bullpen sessions, etc... So, who has been most impressive this [season]? And who can we expect to see in Oakland by 2008 or 2009 (September Call-Ups included)? -- Colorado Fan

Obviously, early in the year, Danny Putnam was very impressive, and it earned him a big-league callup. Jeff Gray threw well for Midland before his promotion to AAA, as did Kaz Tadano.

Of the guys still there, Mike Madsen was tremendous on the mound while I was there. Mad-Dog was wrapping up strikeouts at an extremely high rate over the few starts I got to see him. And Gregorio Petit stood out among the position players. He’s probably the most spectacular fielder I’ve ever seen on a baseball field, major leaguers included. And this year, he’s off to a great start hitting, getting on base often while batting at the top of the Midland order most of the year.

There are several other guys that are off to good starts this year as well, and there isn’t a single player I’ve played with this year that I would say has no chance to make it to the big leagues.



It's a well-known fact that the A's don't look for the stolen base as much as other teams. As a pitcher, do you worry less about the runner on first if you know he's not going to steal? Conversely, doesn't it affect your concentration at all if you think the guy is going to run? In other words, can the threat of a SB rattle a pitcher? -- mookyee

Absolutely – a fast runner can definitely distract a pitcher. When I’m on the mound, after I get my sign from the catcher, I take a quick look at the runner. I decide RIGHT THEN whether I’m going to pick to 1st or throw a pitch. After I make my mind up, I try not to let the runner affect my pitch at all. After all, unless I really mess up, a runner on 1st is not going to score without help from the hitter. So if I make good pitches, I’ve got a really good chance of keeping him from scoring.



Front office job: I totally second this...you've proved yourself the master of the politically correct response. On the one hand, I have to say that baseball's culture of civility is something I really like--respecting the people around you is something that I think is cool, and something we need more of today. (It's noticeably lacking in other pro sports: for instance, the normally docile NBA player Tim Duncan's accusations of a "vendetta" when a ref went off on him on Sunday--almost no baseball player, save maybe TB's Delmon Young, would consider saying such a thing, whether or not it was true!) On the other hand, clearly the Bull Durham-esque PC line is to some degree contrived, to put it kindly. I'm curious how strong this code is among the players you've been around at all levels, and how you think everyone learns to do it. -- BerkeleyDawg

I think, for most people, it’s inherent. It’s easy to say things to try to keep everyone happy (especially in a team sport where the dynamic of the team is crucial). When that changes is when a person gets an adrenaline rush. Whether it’s the heat of the battle, or someone getting defensive after a comment made to/about them, or whatever else it may be...when someone’s blood pressure goes up, it’s a lot harder to control what is said, and more of what’s said is based on a knee-jerk reaction. It’s similar to when a player and a coach get in a jawing match in the dugout...or when a player lashes out in front of the media. Usually, the intensity of the game has a lot to do with it. If you just give the situation time to calm down, most of the time, people aren’t going to say anything to offend anyone else. Not that it doesn’t happen, but I think most people have a trait of wanting people around them to like them and not be unnecessarily angry with them. That said, if you do have a point that needed to be made, there are ways you can be tactful about it so that you get your message across without sacrificing truthfulness.



Posted by notsellingjeans:

Any aspect of [the comments Brad Halsey made to the media] that you are able to comment on would be especially useful to us. Things that we would be curious about:

a.) How much are you in contact with the minor league training staff? Do you know if that communication ends up filtering up to Larry Davis and the major league staff? In other words, does the organization's collective medical team work together, or are they fairly independent during the year? The possibility that Beane and Co. would be unaware that Halsey had an MRI scheduled seemed strange to us.

b.) Have you ever told a team or coach that you were sore or felt hurt, and they asked you to push past it? What were the circumstances?

c.) Anecdotally, how much does a player who is "on the cusp" of the big leagues think about things like, "I gotta get to the big leagues this year, or I gotta crack the 40-man roster, so that I can hit arbitration, so that I can make more money?" Is that weighing on some guys' minds during their downtime, or even while competing? I could see that being a major distraction - and for people trying to provide for their families, it's probably in the back of their minds somewhere.

First of all, let me say I’m not going to get into details about injuries and specific comments other players make. I like Brad, and we’re teammates in pro ball right now for the first time. We played together for a few weeks in the Cape Cod League in college in the summer of 2001, so we’ve known each other awhile.

a) We’re in contact with our team’s trainer on a daily basis. They’re always readily available for whatever we need, no matter how major or minor. As far as their communication with the big league training staff and with each other, I have no idea. You’d have to ask them.

b) In college, I had a severe case of tendonitis in my shoulder during my senior season. But I tried to battle through it while our team was on our run to the 2003 College World Series. Until I joined the Phillies, I didn’t know how severe it was, but there was no way I was going to miss out on that opportunity at the end of my college career. Our coaches, however, never asked me to push through any injury. It was totally on me as to whether or not I could pitch.

c) I think, in a way, it probably does affect guys. But I can’t answer for everyone. I just know that I love playing baseball, and I want to succeed at it and have a lengthy big-league career. I’m not playing for the money – I just enjoy it so much that I want to give myself the best chance possible to be a big league pitcher. If that means converting to submarine, then that’s what I’m committed to. But I don’t let anything like that weigh on my mind, because to me, the worrying isn’t worth it. I don’t like anxiety...I just want to enjoy what I’m doing, no matter what it is, and live life as happily as I can.



I hope everyone has a great week and weekend! I’m almost finished with all the questions through GZWI #11. So if you’ve posted since then, I’ll be getting to it soon. And now that I’m in Sacramento, I expect more of the loyal AN body to come out and introduce yourself at a River Cats game! See ya at the ballpark!

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