Friday, May 22, 2009

Five Minutes With Jordan Zimmermann

Coming out of the gate strong pitching in his first two starts for Our Washington Nationals, the learning curve that is called Major League Baseball has been schooling Jordan Zimmermann on the mound in his last four starts. First inning troubles have led to early deficits. Adversity that still finds this 22 Year Old Righthander confident, moving forward and soaking in all that is Big League Baseball for a rookie.

After the conclusion of this past Monday's "Meet & Greet" with Jordan Zimmermann at The ESPN Zone in Downtown Washington, DC--Jordan was kind enough to give me some time to chat about his rookie campaign donning a Nationals Uniform. Five minutes to hash some thoughts out--giving a better idea into what JZ is thinking out there on the mound.

With that, here we go with Five Minutes With Jordan Zimmermann

Let’s start with your adjustment from The Minors to The Majors? (SBF)

“It really hasn’t been too much of an adjustment. It’s just realizing it’s a bigger stadium with more people watching. That’s really been the biggest thing. The game is still the same. It’s still 60’6” away (Pitcher’s Plate to Home Plate). Everything still feels the same to me. I still have to go out there and execute my pitches and hope for the best.”

You mentioned here in the ESPN Zone chat that you didn’t realize the coaching staff wanted you to walk Albert Pujols that day you gave up a 3-1 Home Run to him at Nationals Park. There’s an adjustment you have to make on the Major League Level right there. (SBF)

“I just have to watch more video and work down in the zone—don’t leave any pitches up in the zone. Otherwise, presume they are going to hit them. I need to know who is hot and who is not. Then, I can pitch around hitters—know who to go after and those to walk and be careful with.”

You have probably had confidence in all your pitches, but now you are facing Major League Batters, like Pujols and others who can hit your locations more consistently than any batters you have ever faced before? (SBF)

“Yeah, that is true. I’ve thrown balls that are three or four inches off the plate and they are fouling them off. He (Pujols) is one of the best hitters in baseball right now and I just have to be careful—try not to over pitch. When you are throwing a curveball, not make it curve more than what it’s capable of doing. You just have to be yourself and not try to be someone you are not.”

Are you finding now that you’ve always been confident before that you could always throw your fastball past most hitters, but are not fooling them as much anymore? (SBF)

“No. I just try to go out there and throw strikes and not try to do too much. All of my previous coaches told me don’t go out there and be someone you are not. Just go be yourself and really don’t do too much out there.”

Have you figured out the first inning struggles? (SBF)

“No, I haven’t. I have never had to deal with anything like this before. Hopefully, in the next outing, it will be in the back of my mind a little. But hopefully, I can get out there, get out of the first inning and be fine.”

In Los Angeles, when you looked back at the tape, did you see anything wrong in your delivery or release point? (SBF)

“I was just throwing too many fastballs in LA. All I had to do is mix in a few breaking balls and I am sure I would do just fine. But I was throwing fastball after fastball after fastball and they (Dodger Hitters) knew a fastball was coming. That’s what really hurt me in LA. (When Jordan and I spoke he had yet to watch the video from Sunday, May 17th against The Phillies at Nationals Park).”

You mentioned (in the ESPN Q & A) Scott Olsen talking to you at one time. Is there a certain pitcher that has taken you under their wings—to give you an assist here and there? (SBF)

“I don’t really talk to many of the relievers. It’s just Olsen and John Lannan and (Shairon) Martis and (Daniel) Cabrera. The starting pitchers I talk to. Lannan and I are really close. Olsen and I as well, but the one pitcher I hang out with and talk about things the most would be Lannan.”

What’s been the most fun about playing in The Major Leagues? (SBF)

“Coming to the ballpark everyday and being with these guys—the whole Big League experience has been enjoyable. Big stadiums, a lot of people—just about everything about it has been fun.”

And the most difficult part so far? (SBF)

“Definitely, my struggling in pitching so far. I would say it’s difficult, but I am just in a little bit of a funk right now and hopefully I snap out of it next start.”

I am curious to know when you walk off the field after the completion of an inning, you many times put your glove up to your face—what are you saying to yourself—if anything? (SBF)

“I am not really saying anything. It’s just that I am frustrated with myself that I didn’t make the pitches I wanted to make. And I just tell myself let’s go figure it out and get out there for the next inning.”

Being able to come back after a bad inning shows a lot of composure. Have you been nervous out there on the mound? (SBF)

“No, not at all. The only time I was nervous was warming up my first start—before my debut. I was a little nervous, but once I got the first strike out of the way, I wasn’t nervous anymore. It’s not nerves or anything—but I really don’t know what it is (first inning struggles).”

Looking forward, past that first inning—pitching wise—what do you need to improve? (SBF)

“Just keep working on my changeup. Every time I throw it, I need to slow it down. I am throwing it way too hard and I need to be able to slow it down so it feels comfortable in my hand. Once I do that, I will have four quality pitches (fastball, curve, slider and changeup).”

But you are not having any problems throwing all your pitches from the same slot? (SBF)

“Yes, I just don’t have the complete feel of the changeup yet. It’s a little more difficult to catch on to.”

With that final answer--Five Minutes With Jordan Zimmermann concluded.


paul said...

It either sounds like he isn't a very deep thinker or was totally uninterested in talking. Of course, Mike Messina thought too much. . . .

Anonymous said...

This is a smart kid. Reminds me a lot of John Lannan in his personality.

I was trying not to be too optimistic in Spring Training because its Spring Training.

He was good in his 1st 2 wins, but last night was a really great performance.

What really got me excited was the Post-Game interview by Jim Palmer who said "that kid has really good stuff".

Like John Lannan, sometimes you don't get a Win when you pitch really well.

I expect to see a lot of kids wearing #27 ZIMMERMANN jerseys in the future when the Team Store starts selling them!