Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tim Redding ESPN Zone

Born & raised in Rochester, New York, Tim Redding grew up in a very sports oriented geographic area. Baseball, Football, Basketball, Golf and even Hockey were all apart of his landscape as a youngster. And his proximity to quality professional baseball help stir his interest in becoming proficient at the game. The AAA Rochester Red Wings (then a Baltimore Orioles Affiliate) were his hometown team. Although a devoted fan of The New York Yankees, he was drafted by The Houston Astros. Some would say a top prospect at the time. Potential others would say he hasn't reached, just yet.

Now, 10 years into his professional career--Tim Redding is having a solid year number two with Our Washington Nationals. Our leader in wins along with his veteran clubhouse presence has given Washington a good chance at victory each and every fifth day Our Manager Manny Acta sends Our Number 17 to the mound.

Yesterday, Tim Redding, along with Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes were on hand at ESPN Zone in Downtown Washington, DC for the Monthly Lunch Time Get Together with fans. Approximately 100 folks on hand to listen to Tim & Charlie, ask questions and get an autograph. Of course--Mr. Slowes asked his usual trivia questions to fans--some of whom received free tickets to an upcoming Nationals Game for answering correctly.

Here is the transcript of the majority of the Q & A with Tim Redding. He was very engaging and interesting to hear speak. Charlie Slowes got things started with a comment about the nice weather in DC, yesterday.

Charlie: What a great day here in Washington, just makes you wish you were outside playing baseball right now?

"Or Golf."

Charlie: Do you try to play golf often during the season?

“I try to. It’s a little hard to play on the road. We have a weight restriction on the plane. But, I hope to start playing a lot more while here (in DC) as the weather has become better and better. I have no problem getting up early in the morning on a day I don’t pitch and showing up at the park later.”

Charlie: And that’s different than the day you do pitch?

“Yeah, on the days I do pitch, I don’t do too much. I will sleep in until 12 or One O’clock. We are required to be at the park two hours before game time. I usually get to the field between 4PM and 4:30PM. The other guys (field players) are out on the field stretching. The Clubhouse is then empty and open. I take the time to familiarize myself with what is going on that evening. I go over the notes for the game plan and get whatever treatment I might need to get ready to rock and roll.”

Charlie: Now, the pitchers take batting practice before the regular batting practice for the hitters on the field. Yesterday, I saw the guys go hit in the cage as well. But, on a day you pitch, do you hit at all beforehand?

“I won’t swing on the days I pitch. I know that some guys love to do it. They like to go loosen up and swing a bat. But, I get paid to throw. I don’t get paid to hit. And I realized in my 10 Professional Seasons, I am not the hitter I was in High School and in College. If I run into one (a base hit), GREAT! Any kind of offense they (the team) can get from the 9 hole is a bonus. But, I need to go out there and get somewhere between 18 & 27 outs as fast as possible.”

Charlie: Which makes it interesting when we have this debate during inter-league play. People talk about a designated hitter. When The Nationals play on the road in American League Parks, the pitcher doesn’t hit and you don’t even have to concern yourself with hitting. I know a lot of people, the purest, love the strategy of the game, the way it is without the designated hitter. But, what do most of the pitchers prefer?

“Depends. I am sure if you asked Micah Owning (Arizona) about what he thinks. I am sure he would love to DH in an American League Stadium. He can hit and throw. It seems the more modern guys, young guys, like (Tim) Lincecum (San Francisco) or (Carlos) Zambrano (Cubs). I know that Zambrano is not, young, young. He’s been around a couple of years. He’s still a young guy. He is one of the better hitting pitchers in the league. Guys like Todd Wellemeyer (St.Louis), Adam Wainwright (St. Louis)—these guys can swing the bat. It seems like when you get drafted out of high school or college right now a days—two or three years later you are in the Big Leagues—especially if you are a pitcher. We all know that pitching is the key to success. And because of that, some of these guys don’t have the time to let the rust build up on their swings. They get up here (Big Leagues) and are very comfortable.”

“Batting for me is a bonus. I enjoy the strategy of National League style of play. But, I am very much in favor of just going out there and getting my full rest every half inning—instead of having to worry about having to get up there (to hit).”

Charlie: Especially on a hot day--that counts for a lot. You have more of a chance to get fluids in you.

Opening up to fan questions:

Question: Do you think you get can 20 wins this year, Tim?

“That was a great question about a month and a half ago. I have been blessed this year. The guys are really bailing me out. They are playing really well on the days I am on the mound. We are 13-3 in the 16 games I have started. But, I only have six wins in my personal column. It’s uncontrollable who actually gets the “W”. 13 team wins already. Let's get to 20 team wins before I start worrying about 20 personal wins.”

Charlie: Speaking of the DH, there must be times where you can be stretched as a starter all the way to the setup or closer—if you are having a good game and are down by a run. The manager doesn’t have to pinch hit for you. That thought must cross your mind in that situation too. The manager has a tough decision to make.

“Absolutely, look at Jason Bergmann last night (Monday, June 23). He’s throwing well, seven innings, one earned run—82 pitches in seven innings. That’s what we should be able to do more times than not. Unfortunately, the art of pitching is a lot harder than it looks. If we were in Anaheim playing The Angels and the score was 1-1 and we were going to the bottom of the 7th, he (Jason) would not have to worry about coming up. Manny (Acta) would not have to make a pinch hit move and take him out of the game. He could go out and throw the 8th inning. The way he was throwing. We take that lead in the 8th inning and we hold on. We go right to (Jon) Rauch. We don’t have to bring in two or three other relievers.”

Question: Do you have any superstitions you like to practice before a game?

“I am not going to say I am not superstitious, but I don’t really have a pre-game routine that I follow to a “T”. I know for some guys its clockwork--4:10PM, I need to be walking into the front door of The Clubhouse. At 4:15PM, I need to have my shoes off. The only things that I do and I really don’t know if it’s superstitious—as I have done them for such a long time—I don’t walk on the foul line on any given day. I never step on the white line. Warming up between innings, I take the normal seven to eight pitches. I don’t ever veer from it. Again, I don’t know if that is superstition, it’s just something I have done for so long—it’s natural to me right now. Other than that, my game time music, by pre-game music is different, depending on the day. It could be hard rock. It could be 80’s, hip-hop. It really depends on what type of mood I am in.”

Question: Everyone knows about the little run support John Lannan gets, you have the best support. What are you paying the hitters to get them to perform for you? (laughing)

“Not enough. As I would rather be paying them every single day, then every fifth day. Runs support is always uncertain. For people who look for stats far enough—it’s a very interesting situation. I was that type of guy in Houston. In 2003, I was 10-14 with a 3.68 ERA. I had the second worst run support in the baseball and had 10 wins. John Lannan is in that situation right now. He is 4-8 with a 3.30 ERA. And he’s had six or seven quality starts in a row. And in those starts, he is 0-3 with a 2.90 ERA. So, I have been in that situation and it’s another example of mostly what The Nationals believe I can bring to this Organization. I am only 30 (years old), but I have had enough experience in the big league level that I have almost been through everything. I was supposed to be a prospect stud to burning out. Being sent down, being an underachiever, being hurt, going through surgery, coming back, getting here—where I am feeling very comfortable here in DC. I am very, very thankful to be here.”

“We (The Nationals) are going in the right direction. Just bare with us just a little longer. We are still trying to weed out some of the problems and get things turned around. But, I have had so many experiences; I can pass them on to guys like John Lannan, Jason Bergmann, Shawn Hill, (Matt)Chico—who was here. I am trying to become a better leader and tell them you can’t control when or if the runs come. All you can control is how many runs you can prevent. Just keep going out there. He can’t be upset over his past four starts; he’s gone six innings and given up two runs. You can make a helluva lot of money by going six innings and only giving up two runs. Don’t worry about the “W’s”.

Charlie: Another thing you can’t control is whom you pitch against. It seems like Jason Bergmann is matching up against the other team’s ace for start after start.

“Yeah, everybody pays attention to who is the Opening Day Starter. Who is number one? Who are numbers 3, 4 & 5? After the first week of the season, it doesn’t matter. You have so many off days. So many rainouts or cancellations and doubleheaders that within about a week or two into the season, it’s all bumbled up. I was slotted in as a number three guy out of spring and I have been throwing anywhere from the two spot to five spot as a starter. Jason’s facing a lot of number one’s lately. It’s really luck of the draw after the first week or two.”

Question: Hey Tim, who is your favorite player of all time?

“Favorite player of all time, I will give you two. I will give you my position player and a pitcher. Position player growing up and to this day is Don Mattingly (Yankee Great). I grew up in New York, a Yankee Fan. On the flip side, my pitcher is a guy that came up and had a lot of success with The Mets early in his career—David Cone.”

Charlie: So is the Number 17 (Tim’s Number) worn for David Cone?

“A little bit. 17 was just the number I got when I was in Junior College, out of high school. It was the number I wore when I got drafted by The Astros. It was the number that had special meaning to me because I got drafted wearing it. So, I have tried to wear it as often as possible. This is the first Major League Team where I have been able to wear it. And it’s been good luck so far.”

Question: With all the roster turnover and injuries—the Columbus shuttle going on—has all that affected The Clubhouse at all?

“I don’t think it’s affecting the persona of The Clubhouse. The guys coming up from Columbus are all quality guys. We just had Ryan Langerhans for a little while. Pete Orr is here. All the guys that are coming up, Kory Casto we all know, he’s been up and down with us. He’s been The Minor League Player of The Year for The Nationals. All the guys that are coming, they’ve got more than adequate ability to be at this level. It’s just that they are the emergency guys if people get hurt. But, I think they are coming in with a good attitude, and coming in with fresh energy—which is something very important through the course of the season. When you have ups and downs, these people that get brought in are good clubhouse people. They are all easily approachable, easy to talk to and have the joys of just being there.

“As hard as it sounds, we do play games, but there is a lot of travel, a lot of wear and tear. The mood in The Clubhouse can get very stale at times. So, its very important to have people in The Clubhouse to come in there and break the staleness at times.”

Question: How are we doing on relievers here? The starting pitchers have mostly done a pretty good job. Then after the starter leaves after the sixth—a lot of games are lost by the bullpen.

“I think Manny is starting to get where his starters can go 100 to 115 pitches in every game. In trying to be the veteran presence, I try to talk to him (Manny Acta) about what I am seeing from the guys. Sometimes as manager, he is so in tuned with what is going on besides just on the mound. Randy (St.Claire) is so in tuned to what we look like in our mechanics and execution. We try to talk to each other in the dugout or clubhouse, in between starts—sometimes we (pitchers) can provide information like ‘I really wish you could have left me in longer.’ Or ‘I had more energy.’ Some days you feel like you can throw 300 pitches and you feel fine. Other days, you are in the bullpen warming up and you need to have somebody else up in a second.”

“Some days you feel like garbage and throw great. Some days you feel so good, and you don’t last three or four innings. But, I try to talk to Manny and as a manager I have played for before—there is a lot of respect for one another. I can tell him I think he can lean on the starters a little more—if it gets to that. I know we are playing a tough team like Anaheim last night, Bergmann deserved to go as far as he could go. But, we are also in a situation where we have to start winning some of these close game.”

“The struggles we are having as a bullpen right now—and I am not down there, so I don’t really want to speak for them as a whole—but we have been blessed with the strength of them the past couple of years that it might just be wearing on them now. They have had three or four guys going 70 plus games the past couple of years. That’s a lot of innings. That’s a lot of times up and down—up and down. The first half of the season is coming to an end. It’s not been as good as everyone would like—but hopefully we will get a turnaround and get these guys rolling. We are working very hard.”

Question: Tim, you pitched last year at RFK Stadium, now at Nationals Park which did you prefer to throw in?

“ Personally, I enjoyed the history and heritage of RFK. And seeing the places where guys like Frank Howard were hitting home runs in an era where steroids where not even a topic on anybodies mind. But what is there not to love about a brand new stadium, a new era. An open-air park, not the stuffy bowl we did have at RFK. You can see The Capitol Building from inside the stadium. I very much enjoy Nationals Park.”

Question: What’s your favorite local golf course? What’s your favorite in this country?

“I have only played at each of them once—but local golf courses I would say are Congressional Blue Course and TPC Avenel. Favorite course in the country would be a tie, well—East Coast—West Coast. East Coast—Pinehurst Number Two. West Coast Pebble Beach. That one (Pebble Beach) was awe-inspiring, even during the time I played it—in December. The weather was not exactly gorgeous, mid-50’s (temperature), but coming from the Northeast growing up. If there was no snow on the ground, I was out trying to hit balls somewhere.”

After a few more trivia questions--it was time to line up for pictures and autographs with Tim Redding. Even Charlie Slowes got into the act.

Due to the fact that Our Washington Nationals will spend most of July, 2008 on the road, the Next ESPN Zone Lunch Time Get Together with Charlie Slowes and a player to be announced later--will be July 9th. Just a few short weeks away.

And like Lasting Milledge last month, Tim Redding signed the special leather Washington Nationals Lounge Chair to be given away during the last Lunch Time Get Together in September. All who attend can sign up for the lottery prize.


Chris Needham said...

This picture perfectly sums up the season!

A said...

"We have a weight restriction on the plane."

How does Dmitri Young travel then?

Anonymous said...

Link up to another blog that covers the Nats daily from a season ticket holder perspective. This guy is good, but certainly doesnt think the Nats are.