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Gettin' Ziggy With It (vol. 2)

Hello again, everyone! Your response to the first diary entry was fantastic! I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to continue this throughout the season.

Since not much has happened for me baseball-wise this week, I thought I'd use this week's journal entry to answer some of the questions that people asked last week (with more questions to be answered in the coming weeks, so please don't feel slighted if I didn't get to your question this week)...

To start it off, no relation to Zig...special thanks to monkeyball for the fabulous song...and apologies to ruffriders23 - the "fastball" story will be kept in my inner circle.

* Moving on, numerous readers wanted to know what about my pitching style made me a candidate for converting to submarine.

For starters, I threw from a low-3/4 arm slot to begin with, and I would drop down slightly below sidearm 15-20 times a game for effect - mostly versus righties. Furthermore, I'll quote the Baseball Prospectus article (by Kevin Goldstein) that discussed the conversion in its early stages:

Farm Director Keith Lieppman... "It was really [minor league pitching instructor] Ron Romanick's idea," said Lieppman. "Ron's premise was that we have a good competitive guy who already threw from these angles, and he has the makeup and savvy to give this a shot. A lot of guys are not good candidates for this kind of thing, but Brad has had success, and he's a student of the game and he has a resilient arm."

I think the early returns have been extremely positive. I pitched a few innings in instructional league, and I've faced the hitters at Missouri State a few times so far this spring. However, until I face upper-level pro hitters, I guess I don't really know how it's going to go. I'm also anxious to take on my new role as a full-time reliever - something I've never exclusively done in my career. That stuff is what's got me itching to get down to spring training and get the season going.

* Will you be with the big league ballclub for spring training? -- J Rod

Officially, no. I will be in minor league camp. However, I'm going down early in hopes of an opportunity to dress out with the big league team on a certain day(s) when they are short-handed in the bullpen (for example, split-squad days). I was able to do that one day last year, and while I didn't get to pitch in the game, it was a fun learning experience.

* I was wondering what it's like learning to throw a breaking ball underhand. Spending so much time throughout your career learning how to get just the right spin and arm motion, I imagine it's like trying to learn a whole other language. -- by Joey

Not only is it difficult learning to throw a breaking ball's TOTALLY different learning to throw a FASTBALL underhand. Originally, I thought the change would entail just some minor adjustments from my previous sidearm delivery, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It's more of a complete overhaul and re-learning of how to throw a baseball. However, just like anything, the more I do it, the more comfortable it gets. Hopefully, before long, I won't be thinking about the movements my body is supposed to make, and I'll be concentrating 100% on getting hitters out.

* How would you artfully dodge the question, which of your former teammates (Pujols and Howard) really deserved the '06 NL MVP? -- by devo

Both players had tremendous seasons. Had Albert not been hurt in June, it would've been interesting to see how their numbers compared at the end of the year. The Cardinals probably wouldn't have won the division without Pujols. However, everyone had written off the Phillies after they traded Abreu and Lidle. Right about that time, Ryan stepped up his game and helped keep the Phillies in the hunt till the last weekend of the season. Ryan ended up with the MVP, and I'm incredibly happy for him - I felt it was extremely well-deserved. But Albert got the World Series championship, and I bet Ryan would trade the MVP for the title in a heartbeat.

I hope everyone has a great week. Next Monday's installment of "Gettin' Ziggy With It" will be brought to you live from Phoenix, AZ.