Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Few Minutes With Joel Hanrahan


The Washington Nationals and pitcher Joel Hanrahan, a native of Norwalk, Iowa, raised over $11,000 through fan donations at Nationals Park and through an online auction at, to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The fund helps the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, such as the tornadoes and floods in the Central United States. Nationals fans donated over $3,000 during Nationals games on June 25 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and June 27 through 29 when the team faced the Baltimore Orioles. The online auction raised over $8,000 from Thursday, June 26 through Thursday, July 3. The auction featured 13 sports memorabilia and/or experience packages including the Ultimate Nats Fan Experience: four Presidents Club tickets, batting practice passes and autographed baseballs, batting practice meet and greet with Nationals pitcher Joel Hanrahan and other Nationals players, scoreboard welcome and ballpark tour, that brought in $2100.

“I am proud we were able to raise fund to assist those in the Central United States who have been devastated by the recent floods and tornadoes,” said Nationals pitcher Joel Hanrahan. “Nationals fans have shown again how generous they are.” Hanrahan also recorded a public service announcement for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

He can strike out the side on nine pitches, then turnaround and walk the next three batters faced--frustratingly so. Joel Hanrahan is the possessor of a quality Major League Arm. His pitches can reach the high 90's on the radar gun. But, he has yet to show enough consistency to make Our Number 38 a prized possession on Our Pitching Staff.

Always a starter until this past spring, Our Washington Nationals switched Joel's role to that of a set-up man. A bullpen specialist--hoping to harness his raw power and, eventually, cut down on all his mistakes made while pitching multiple innings.

This experiment is still a work in progress. At times, Hanrahan has been light outs. Other times, Joel has highlighted the experience still needed to develop his young talents. He can lose his command and offer up far too many free bases on balls to opposing batters.

Last Wednesday, July 9th--Joel Hanrahan appeared with Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes for the monthly ESPN Zone Meet & Greet. After the conclusion--Joel was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time for an interview.

With that here with go with: "A Few Minutes With Joel Hanrahan"

We began by talking about his good friend--Chad Cordero. Our Number 32 had just had his surgery in Los Angeles concerning his torn labrm the day before. Joel had been in touch with "The Chief".

“I just talked to ‘Chief’ before I got here. He seems to be in good spirits. I know he’s been a little down. But his surgery apparently went well and he is expecting a full recovery. I was very happy that he was confident to move on, rehab and get back to the field and play next year."

He is needed. No question. (SBF)

"Yes, we do miss him, both on the mound and in the clubhouse. He is a great teammate, really a fun person to be around."

Now on to you. Before this season started, where did feel your career was at in baseball? (SBF)

“I was fortunate to get up here last year and performed OK. The E.R.A. number was not very good. But, I did have a couple of good games that showed I could pitch in The Big Leagues. I just needed more consistency. This year, I didn’t really know what to expect at Spring Training. I was hoping to get the chance to pitch, and show them again what I can do. And honestly, hopefully get claimed off waivers from some other team--if they (The Nationals) could find me a spot.”

You didn’t have confidence you would make the team? (SBF)

“I was kind of in the mind set that with the bullpen we have had here, it would be a tough bullpen to crack into. As it turned out, I had a strong spring. The team noticed and I was able to get in there.”

In the ESPN Zone chat earlier—you mentioned that your 8 Strikeout Performance against The Atlanta Braves at Disney World, turned some heads your way. I take it before that date; you were not feeling confident about making the team? (SBF)

“I wasn’t really thinking about anything. I was pitching really well in Spring Training already. I felt comfortable. In fact, thought I was doing all right and making a case for my name. And if it didn’t work out here, someone else would be willing to take a chance on me. So, all I was really thinking about was getting out on the mound and getting some outs.”

You throw very hard, sometimes not with the best command—do you think you have the ability to be a closer? (SBF)

“Sure, I would love to be the closer, but we got (Jon) Rauch in there—stepping in for Chad. Hopefully, we will get Chad back here next year. There are some fine people already in front of me. But, if they (The Nationals) want me to be the closer—I will be the closer. It’s not something I think about. Right now, I try to do whatever I can to help the team.”

Going from a Starter to a Reliever changes the pressure. Now, you come into games to solve problems created by others—have you been able to handle that forced pressure? (SBF)

“Certainly, I am trying to minimize the damage in situations like that when trouble is brewing. Sometimes it’s fun (when you succeed), sometimes it gets you really pissed off (when you don’t—chuckling).”

Then when you have pissed yourself off, what have you done wrong, and can you improve on that issue? (SBF)

“I don’t know. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Sometimes you get the right ground ball and it’s just one foot to the left of “Guzzie”. The ball just out of his reach. Sometimes you come in and get three ground balls and they get three hits and the game is over. It happens. It’s baseball. I just have to keep my head up and go out there and get them the next time.”

Now since your role has changed as a reliever—do you have any idea what direction you would like to see your career to go in now? (SBF)

“As a reliever, I would like to get to the back end of the bullpen. I want to be there with the game on the line. Everybody who pitches wants to be in that situation—in the games you are winning. That’s my immediate goal that I am working towards. Otherwise, I need to go out there, not only throw strikes, but be effective—more successful.”

How’s the command of your pitch arsenal. Can you get your pitches under control? (SBF)

“I think everything is working fine. I just need to be able to get more ahead of hitters. When I get in trouble, I get behind and start walking people. As long as I can get ahead and put the ball in play for my fielders—then I will be alright.”

Walks are killers. (SBF)

“Yes, they absolutely are and I need to get mine under wraps. Cutting down on my walks are the keys to my success.”

Being with the team all season, you have been through all the ups and downs. This team is struggling right now. Do you see hopes of a turnaround? (SBF)

“Yes, absolutely. We have a lot of young guys. We need Lastings (Milledge), Elijah (Dukes) and (Ryan) Zimmerman back soon. But some of the guys are still learning the game. We are going to go out there and play hard—try to compete. Unfortunately, we have been stung by all the injuries. But the more experience I can get, my teammates can get—it all helps in the long run.”

As a player, do you feel this team is snake bitten this year? (SBF)

“We are all AMAZED at what has happened. You always hear about people and their injuries. But you rarely hear about The Nationals and their injuries. This has been very unfortunate. We lost a lot of good people this year due to freak incidents.”

Dukes going down was really hard to take. (SBF)

“I know exactly what you mean. That man is such a hard competitor. I have never played with anyone that gives his all more than Dukes. You hate to see someone who loves the game that much—with such a competitive nature—be lost. It really was sad.”

“But, we are not giving up. Opportunity is still there and some others now have their chance to step up—just like I am attempting to do in my role in the bullpen.”

With that, My Few Minutes With Joel Hanrahan came to an end. Our Number 38 had a few more interviews to conduct for the assembled media. He is a very likable young man, unassuming and into the fun of being a Professional Baseball Player. Hopefully, Joel Hanrahan will harness that golden arm of his and become a quality Major League Pitcher--soon--and here in Washington, DC for Our Washington Nationals.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Great article! I have spent time with Joel outside of "work" and he is a really nice guy.

Let's hope he lives up to his full potential on the pitching mound as he has at times some great stuff.