Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Few Minutes With Matt Chico

Acquired in August, 2006 from The Arizona Diamondbacks in the Livan Hernandez Trade--Matt Chico emerged last season as a dependable, if unsteady pitcher for Our Washington Nationals. Our "Starter In Training" made each of his scheduled starts. And, if not for being sent down briefly late in the year--would have been the only starter to make each of his scheduled appearances last season. Finishing 2007 with a 7-9 record and a 4.63 ERA during his Rookie Campaign--Our Number 47 is looking to improve during his sophomore season. He kindly gave Sohna and I a few moments yesterday afternoon.

All right—this is year two—you have to feel a little more comfortable? (SBF)

“Yeah, I do. I feel a little more comfortable coming into Spring Training now, kind of knowing what’s going on—compared to last year. Being my first one last year, I really didn’t know what was going on.” (chuckling)

You said that the first year---you didn’t know what to expect. So how does coming back this year change things? (The African Queeen).

“I am a little bit more at ease, although I don’t really know what will happen with the rotation. But, I know what to expect (from the coaches). I can go through the drills and not press as hard. Last year, I put more pressure on myself than necessary—early. So, now I know I can let things work out.”

You cracked me up when I spoke to you after a Potomac Nationals Game (a rehab start for Shawn Hill) in which you stated that after your first Major League appearance—you could only go up from there. (Yeah, I know). So, where do you go from here? (SBF)

“I need to get my walks down. More than anything else—that just killed me. That and keeping the ball down—are my keys issues right now. And, I am trying to work on that right now.”

To get your walks down, to keep the ball down—what adjustments do you need to make? (SBF)

“My mechanics, I believe—nothing more. Last year, I was way, way out of whack, until September—when I really started to figure everything out a bit.”

Could you explain one of your issues last year—throwing across the body? (SBF)

“It means my body movement was side to side—instead of moving straight to the catcher. Instead, I was going first base to third base.”

So, how do you make that adjustment? (SBF)

“A lot of repetitions, nothing more.”

And Randy St.Claire staying on you. (SBF)

“Oh yeah!! (laughing) I need it. (still chuckling)

I was reading in the papers recently that you and Shawn Hill are good friends. What help does he provide for you in your growth as a pitcher? (SBF)

“The mental aspects of the game. Baseball is a very mental game. He also helps me with my mechanics. He and I reviewed video last year. Shawn and Patty (John Patterson) helped me toward the middle of last season—trying to figure things out.”

How difficult is it to go from Brian Schneider as your catcher to two guys who may have never caught you before? (SBF)

“Honestly, its not too much of a difference. They are all Major League Catchers. Both (Johnny Estrada and Paul LoDuca) have been around for a while. In my past, I have worked with Estrada—when both of us were with Arizona. I think he caught me once."

So, you are not worried about getting use to him? (SBF)

“No—it’s a part of the game.”

That concludes A Few Minutes With Matt Chico.

What I have always enjoyed about speaking with Matt Chico--is that he is very self-deprecating. Confident, funny, but a little shy. All adding to a solid makeup that can only help his game on the mound.

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