Monday, July 30, 2007
Five Minutes With Joel Hanrahan
At one time, Joel Hanrahan was a highly touted pitching prospect in The Los Angeles Dodgers Organization. The Dodgers Second Round Pick in the 2000 Entry Draft, Joel turned down a scholorship to pitch for The University of Nebraska to play professionally. And, did he ever get out to a hot start--reaching as high as 5th on The Los Angeles Top Prospect Chart. This, following a pair of No Hitters pitching for Vero Beach in 2002.
Baseball America once proclaimed Hanrahan possessed one of The Minor Leagues Best Breaking Pitches. He can reach 90 MPH consistently on his fastball, while controlling his slider and change up with effectiveness. Talent which began to fail him after consistent shoulder and leg injuries hampered his progress beginning in 2004. Although reaching AAA Las Vegas for three consecutive seasons-The Dodgers never called him up to The Major Leagues.
After spending seven seasons playing in the Los Angeles Organization, Joe Hanrahan became a Free Agent and signed with Our Washington Nationals over this past winter. Looking for redemption, a story line that has played out all season long in Washington--Hanrahan's long journey to The Big Leagues finally paid off when he was summoned from AAA Columbus for an emergency start this past Saturday against The New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
Our Number 38's first five pitched innings of Major League Baseball were pretty solid. He struck out 7 Mets and held his own by reaching the sixth with a shutout. A Zero On The Board that quickly turned over to three runs scored against--when over a course of three consecutive New York Batters--Joel saw a three run lead become tied. The final blow on a Two Run Opposite Field Home Run by Carlos Delgado.
Despite his disappointment on losing a lead--Joel Hanrahan did all right for himself in his first Major League Start. In many respects, he showed some of the talent--so many scouts originally believed could be harvested from him since 2000. Joel pitched so well, that Our 2007 Version Washington Nationals--will give him another start later this week.
With all that in mind--a few months ago--I had the opportunity to visit with Joel Hanrahan for five minutes. Never did I get the chance to use the material--he had yet to make an appearance in Washington. So, I was saving our brief chat. As it turns out, our exhange still stands up today.
Here we go:
Being a Free Agent for the first time, what drew you to Washington, DC? (SBF)
“From the moment my choices became available, one was clear. I knew this would be a good opportunity for me. In fact, just about anyone that wants a chance, came here. Why not? Here with The Nationals, you knew you would get a shot. There have been open rotation spots all season, and you have to feel pretty excited about that opportunity.”
Were you frustrated playing in The Dodgers Organization? (SBF)
“No, I wasn’t frustrated. For the first couple of years I was ONE OF THEIR GUYS. They treated me pretty well over there for a couple of years. Towards the end of my stint there, a couple of things happened. But, there is nothing I can do about it now. I am happy to be here—another chance to succeed.”
“What happened with The Dodgers that stagnated your career?
“After 2003, I got hurt a little bit (shoulder problems), never did I really get all my mechanics back together at the right time. So at times things would go good, then something would happen at the wrong time and it snowballed. Wrong timing, whether it was my form, my shoulder, another injury (groin problems). It didn’t stop basically.”
You were frustrated then, and just lost confidence? (SBF)
“No, I would not say I lost confidence, its just that everything would be going good (for a start or two) then something bad would happen at the wrong time. And, at that point there is nothing more you can do about it.”
While struggling to make the majors, who has helped you along? (SBF)
With The Dodgers, I always felt there were a few that believed in me. But, having been there for a couple of years, I had seen complete new groups of Management come through, with their own ideas—so that was frustrating for me. You have to wonder whether they know me. Whether they have any idea who I am. Or, do they want to bring in their own guys, feeling nothing worked before—why keep many. Although, I did have a couple of guys in my camp. Things just never worked out.”
What do you need to do to make The Big League Club? (SBF)
“My big thing is to just throw strikes. A couple of times I have had trouble with my control. Obviously, its something everybody is looking for a pitcher to do—throw strikes and get people out. “
The game is different when you get on that mound—its more than just talent, isn't it? (SBF)
“I was joking with (Billy) Traber the other day about just this. When we were just throwing off the mound (practice), I said--‘We just pitched a Perfect Game.’ We laughed, but its true—it’s a hole new ballgame once you start facing hitters. Each (batter) has their own nuances at the plate. And my job is fool them a lot more times than they get me. It takes more than just raw talent. You need smarts, sometimes guile, maybe even a little luck. All that combining with your fielders to be successful. Something I strive for each and every day. Something I hope to ressusitate here.”
You going to pitch in The Big Leagues this season?
"Count on it. I am counting on it. This is my chance." (Smiling Broadly)
What I found interesting from Joel Hanrahan was no open bitterness about never making it with The Dodgers. Things did not work out there for him, but he wasn't looking back. I guess when you are 25 years old, you still have that youthful exuberance that tells you that success is aways just around the corner. Something many others tend to forget and lose perspective about when bad times, and injuries, hinder their God Given abilities.
Interesting I find it that 2/3rds of the way through the 2007 season, Our Starting Pitching Rotation is still in flux, but Our Washington Nationals have survived. Now, two of the pitchers most expected to make The Big Club out of Spring Training--Tim Redding and Joel Hanrahan are finally on the scene--after both failed during February and March Tryouts. Today, pitching the way Management envisioned when first signed over the winter. Fascinating it might be to see how well both playout the remainder of 2007.