Monday, March 30, 2009

Today's Conference Call (Part Three) Joe Beimel & Joel Hanrahan

When Our Manager Manny Acta was detained on the practice fields late this morning, Baseball Media Relations for Our Washington Nationals went to the bullpen for relief to continue Today's Conference Call with Local Media and Bloggers in the DC Area. Newly acquired Set-Up Man Joe Beimel and Closer Joel Hanrahan each gave five minutes of their time to bridge the gap between the Ryan Zimmerman/Adam Dunn Availability and Manny's expected appearance.

Beimel actually giving a nice breakdown of how he adjusted his mechanics a few years ago--based on a tip from a former young pitching star for The Expansion Washington Senators--the team of my youth. As a lifelong Fan of The Expansion Senators (now Texas Rangers), maybe the best personal moment of today's series of Q's & A's.

With that, here we go with Part Three of Today's Conference Call--Joe Beimel & Joel Hanrahan:

Question: During the off-season, when you were waiting and waiting, were you worried you might not find a team?

Joe: “I knew I would find somebody. I had quite a few teams interested. The main reason I didn’t sign right away was because I didn’t get a decent offer. I think most of the offers I got weren’t what I expected—especially after the market crashed there a little bit. I knew I would find a team, it was just trying to find the right deal and the right team to go to.”

Follow-up Question: Then, did you have any problems trying to stay in shape and getting ready to pitch this year?

Joe: “No. Actually, I found a gym, a good gym, and the coach at UCLA let me come over there. I pretty much threw every day over there. I had a real good catcher to catch me. Staying in shape wasn’t really a problem, I am just kind of glad I didn’t have to go through all the drills and stuff here in spring training for the first couple of weeks—running around and doing all that (chuckling). I got my work in and was able to go home and hang out with the kids a little more.”

Question: You’ve already been anointed the 8th Inning Guy; with Los Angeles (Dodgers) you were more of a situational guy. Do you see this change more as a challenge and do you feel any more expectations especially going from a pennant contender to a team that is in a rebuilding process?

Joe: “I think it’s going to be a little more easier. You already have the role and it’s established. You can go in and work on that. Last year, I kind of switched roles half-way through the year. I was throwing for one inning—up until the All-Star break. Then, after that, I was used as someone to get one guy out here and only facing four or five hitters a week. That was definitely an adjustment for me. This year, I come into a situation where you already know what to expect. There is no guessing. You don’t really have to worry about trying to adjust.”

Follow-up Question: Do you feel any different going from a contender to a team that is rebuilding?

Joe: “It is a little different. It’s a different situation. This is definitely a young team. Look at our lineup, it’s pretty solid, the only question I think we are going to have is the young starters that we have. They’ve got a lot of talent, but if they can figure it out quick and figure out how to get guys out on a consistent basis, they are going to be pretty good. They already have the stuff to do it, it’s just whether they mature quickly and do that. Or, if they are going to go through the growing pains, and all that, that a lot of young pitchers do go through.”

Question: Looking at your career numbers, you’ve been pretty solid in both leagues, how have you developed?

Joe: “I had a pitching coach when I was in AAA with The Devil Rays, whose name is Joe Coleman (Yes, the same Joe Coleman that pitched for The Expansion Washington Senators and traded to Detroit in the infamous Denny McLain Trade, Winter 1970). He actually helped me out a lot. He suggested that I make a little turn in toward second base when I came to the top of my delivery. I have been doing that since ’05 and it just kind of took off. That has really helped me. It’s also helped my sinker against right-handers (hitters), as well as, hides the ball from lefties when I am going away from them (at the plate). That was one big turning point, I would say, in my career.”

Follow-up Question: So you have deception in your delivery? Or did that change how your pitches work?

Joe: “It added a lot of deception, but it helped me stay back when I get to the top of my delivery. Stay back on the back leg, keep my weight back a little bit more and allow my arm and everything else to catch up. I would have to say the biggest thing is the deception.”

Now Joe Beimel stepped away from the microphone and Our Closer, Joel Hanrahan finished off this portion of today’s Phone Conference Call.

Question for Joel: Joel—can you relate a little bit about the World Baseball Classic experience—specifically to being with some of the more established pitchers in the game? And if they were able to give you some pointers about what it’s like to close in some of those high intensity situations?

Joel: “It was a great experience. I got to talk with a number of guys about what they do. I got talk with a Putz, J.J. Putz (New York Mets). One guy I am going to be facing a lot; we talked about some of the guys in our division. We basically talked about the guys we were playing with at that time, like Chipper Jones---how to get him out—stuff like that. But we really didn’t talk a whole lot about coming in, in the 9th inning and what not. We had some good talks out there with many different people.”

Question: Last year, once Jon (Rauch) was traded, you were thrown into the closer’s role without much of a chance to think about it. Now since you’ve had an off-season knowing that is going to be your role, is that a helpful thing? Can you use that to your advantage? And was it good to be handed that job and have to learn on the job last season?

Joel: “Kind of both ways. I talked to some people before about being in the bullpen and closing. What the approach is and what not? It was good having the entire off-season to think about it. I actually met a couple of guys that used to be closers like Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins. I talked to Chad (Cordero) quite a bit. Every time I saw someone, I would ask them—when it comes to that situation—what are you trying to do? What do I need to do to learn? They gave me the impression it’s like being any reliever. You have to have the short-term memory and just attack the hitters, play to the situation. If you have three runs, you have room to work with. That’s basically it, have a short-term memory.”

Question: Is that the hardest thing for you to adjust to. As a closer, you are guaranteed to lose some games. I would guess not letting that get to you is one of the key parts of the job?

Joel: “Well, I wouldn’t say you are guaranteed to lose some games. Brad Lidge didn’t lose any (last year for The World Champion Phillies). But you go out there on the mound each time, whether it’s a 10-run game or the game is to put up a zero. It doesn’t change your approach a whole lot. You just have to go out there (on the mound) and get three quick outs.”

Question: I want to ask you about your control in spring training. Have you been throwing your pitches the way you want?

Joel: “I don’t know. My walks are a little bit down, but I am still getting behind in the count. Yesterday I pitched and I got behind, I think, in every hitter in the first inning (he threw). I ended up giving up two runs. I threw about 20 pitches in that first inning. Once you get behind, it makes it a lot tougher. I am really trying to focus on getting that first pitch strike in there and go from there. If I give him a walk, then try to get the double play.”

Question: It seems like the complaints that are coming out of the WBC were from the pitchers not getting enough innings in. Did you feel that or did you feel you got enough time, enough preparation time physically while you were at The World Baseball Classic?

Joel: “I think the pitchers that did say something might be the starters that were trying to get extended. They are trying to throw 75-80 pitches. But as a reliever, I pitched many games. I got plenty of work in. I still have some more work to do here, but they (Washington) have been getting me into games here on the Minor League side. And I don’t feel like I am behind at all. I think I have about 11 or 12 innings in right now, with two more to go. I don’t feel it’s affected me that way (negatively).”

With that final answer, Our Manager Manny Acta entered the Press Conference Call, relieving Joel Hanrahan of his duties answering questions--making himself available to conclude today's get together via phone. That conclusion coming up this evening.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joe Coleman! Man I tell you the Senators had the making of a playoff team, but Short traded all the talent away.

It's great to hear that Joe had a good influence on Beimel--so now Joe's former city of Washington can benefit!