Yesterday I had a chance to speak with the entire starting pitching staff other than Martis. It was a blogger conference call, attended by Zimmermann, Lannan, Detwiler and Stammen. I had a chance to ask a few questions, and between what I asked and what a few others asked, here’s what I picked up. Keep in mind that I am NOT anything close to what one might call a journalist. I am not doing quotes because I don’t want to misquote people. So when I tell you someone’s response, keep in mind I’m paraphrasing.
AGAIN, THESE ARE NOT DIRECT QUOTES FROM ANY OF THESE PITCHERS. I’M GIVING YOU THE GIST HERE:
Specifically to Jordan and Ross, you guys are throwing lots of strikes, striking out lots of hitters. But you’re giving up a lot of hits, too. Are you doing something specific to work on this? (my question)
Detwiler: Throwing strikes early but giving up hits because they aren’t always quality strikes. Try to throw more quality strikes, hitting the corners.
Zimmermann: I get guys to go 0-2, then I throw a strike down the middle, making too good of a pitch instead of just throwing the ball in the dirt and trying to get them to chase.
Someone asked Zimmermann about his injury
Zimmermann: I’m doing just fine, my arm was a little tired, but I’ll be ready to go for my start on Saturday.
From the Nats News Network, he asked something I had written down to ask as well: Basically, do they feel they need a veteran presence in the rotation, given that everyone is so young?
Zimmermann: Of course a veteran starter would help, but I love the environment. We learn from each other every day.
I found it interesting, he seemed to acknowledge that a veteran starter is something that they would actually like to have.
For Ross Detwiler: You’ve been as effective in the majors, if not more, at striking out hitters compared to when you were in the minors. You’ve been very effective since the middle to end of last summer. What do you attribute this to? (my question)
Detwiler: Last year I really tried too hard. I was living up in the zone, falling behind early. It’s easier for a hitter to hit a fastball if it is a fastball count. I also developed a changeup in the last year that has helped me.
That’s basically all I was able to ask of these guys, but then we got to ask some questions to the newest member of the franchise: Drew Storen. Storen of course was drafted in the first round by the Nats on Tuesday and signed with the team yesterday morning. One thing that we found out today was that he’ll be heading to AA Hagerstown in short order. That could mean he’s a few good weeks away from helping out the desparate Nats bullpen.
Drew, do you feel that you are somewhat shielded from some of the pressure that a #10 overall pick might face normally thanks to Stephen Strasburg? (my question)
Storen: The pressure I’m going to be putting on myself isn’t really any different. The pressure in the media and from the fans may go more to him than to me. But I welcome the pressure. We are both high picks and deserve some pressure. I want the pressure, I want to deliver.
Someone asked him about his preferences in starting or being in the bullpen
Storen: I have a short term memory, I am good for the bullpen. I want that responsibility. I don’t mind being blamed for losing, I want to be that strikes out the last hitter of the game.
Finally, he was asked if he knew much about the Nats. He actually has a bit of a history with the team. He grew up an Expos fan because they used to come to Indianapolis for games (exhibition I suppose) and he was the honorary batboy a few times. Also, his Dad spent some time working in the DC area, and they actually went to a Nats game together in RFK. Finally, he was a big fan of the chief, Chad Cordero. Especially the part where he went from signing (June 27, 2003) to his first major league appearance (Aug 30, 2003) in about 2 months.
All in all, it was definitely a great experience. I thank the Nats for allowing me to take part, and the pitchers for being willing to talk to everyone. As a blogger, I am a fan first, nerd second, writer-type three hundred and fifty seventh. So for me, as much as I tried to act calm… I mean I got to talk to Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, and first rounder Drew Storen at the end. It was cool, I’m really happy that it happened, I think it’s great that the Nats make us bloggers feel like we are part of this community.
Finally, as I mentioned, other bloggers were there, I’m sure they’ll have some info to post as well. Here are links from other guys who were able to speak with these guys:
Nationals Fanboy Loser
Nats News Network
We’ve Got Heart
There were more, but I haven’t seen anything posted and I don’t remember who was there. So as they put up their posts, I’ll try to add the links here.