Thursday, June 11, 2009
15 Minutes With Lannan, Zimmermann, Detwiler & Stammen
A 5:45PM on June 10th, nine bloggers that cover Our Washington Nationals joined a telephone conference call set up by Baseball Operations. The opportunity to ask questions for 15 minutes to four of the five current members of our starting rotation. All home grown--drafted, signed and developed by DC's Team.
Here is that transcript from 15 Minutes with John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler & Craig Stammen.
Question: In your young careers you have all worked with both Steve McCatty and Randy St.Claire—I am curious to know the difference you see in working with both of them as your pitching coach? Has it changed anything you are doing now on the Major League Level?
John Lannan: “He (Randy) is more into the video aspect of pitching. He likes to talk to you about video and the physical analysis of what he sees. And McCatty is not much into that. He’s more, I guess, based on feel and what you see (out on the mound). And how a hitter reacts to what you throw. They are both great (to work with), but I couldn’t ask for a better pitching coach right now.”
Question: You guys are throwing a ton of strikes and striking out a lot of players. It’s something I am sure the coaches love—especially considering the amount of walks this team has given up. One result is that you are giving up a bunch of hits. What are you guys doing to sort of work on this problem—which isn’t a huge problem—obviously not throwing strikes isn’t the answer. But what are you guys doing to sort of fine tune your approach there?
Ross Detwiler: “I think my problem has been, in giving up the hits, that I have been throwing early strikes—but they were too good of strikes. They were not on the corners; they were more down the middle. That was one reason why I was getting hit. But I think we just need to go out there and throw more quality strikes.”
Jordan Zimmermann: “I think my problem is that I am ahead of a guy 0-2 (in the count) and usually make too good of a pitch—instead of throwing one in the dirt. Instead of off the plate, I leave it over the middle and they end up hitting the ball for a home run, or something like that.”
Question: What do you all remember about your draft day? How eager were you to get going (playing professionally)?
Craig Stammen: “Going back to the draft, for me it was probably different than some of the other guys that got drafted a little higher. But for me it was one of those deals where I was just happy to be drafted and I was excited just to get the opportunity to play professional baseball. When it did happen, it was almost like getting called up to The Big Leagues. The same kind of feeling (joy). A dream comes true.”
Jordan Zimmermann: “For me, I was really excited. It didn’t take me too long to sign. I think it was only about a week or so. I headed up to Vermont right away and got started.”
Ross Detwiler: “I had really no idea where I was going. When I heard it was The Nationals, I was pretty excited knowing I would have the opportunity quicker than (with) some other teams to be in The Big Leagues and make a contribution to the team.”
John Lannan: “I was probably in the same boat as Craig. Being a 12th rounder in the same year. I was basically happy to be drafted and get going. I signed within a week. I went to Vermont. I was just happy to get going with my professional career.”
Question: A guy like Stephen Strasburg comes in with hype not seen in recent years for any amateur draft day. What do you guys say to him if you have 30 seconds to give him a smidgen of advice in dealing with all that?
Craig Stammen: “If I had to give him any advice it would be stay humble, keep a level head and keep working hard. He’s obviously got to be the Number One Pick for a reason. It just doesn’t come to them. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, stays humble and stays after his dream of going to The Big Leagues—he will be OK.”
Question: Jordan, injuries all always been big news with The Nationals from the time they have been here. When the report came out you had a twinge in your elbow—people started wondering again. I am curious to know how you are actually doing?
Jordan Zimmermann: “I am doing just fine. It was a little tired. I will be ready to go this Saturday and make my start.”
Question: “No lingering effects?”
Jordan Zimmermann: “No.”
Question: You got a unique situation here where you’ve got an entire starting rotation—including (Scott) Olsen who is coming back from The DL pretty soon—none of you are older than 25. Anyone can take this question—do you appreciate this situation? Is it something where you wouldn’t mind having a veteran around? Or do you think the veteran is not necessary? Or, are you learning from each other’s mistakes?
John Lannan: “Of course a veteran starter would help just because he’s been around. They basically know how to win and won—that kind of veteran story. But right now, I love the situation that we’ve all played in the same places. We all came from this organization. We’ve all played at Potomac together. It’s a great vibe between each other. We talk about starts. It’s going to be a learning process no matter what and our goal is to expedite it a little bit—as quick as possible—and just learn every day.”
Question: John, after your exceptional outing on Saturday Night, what do you feel you are doing differently now at this point in the season than what you might have been doing or executing during spring training or Opening Day?
John Lannan: “Opening Day was a rough day for me. I started off strong in Spring Training and then kind of fell off toward the end. What it was, was stopping trusting my stuff and trying to be too fine on the corners. I was working up in the zone and not making pitches. And the last four starts, I have been focusing down in the zone letting the sinker do my work. That’s been basically it. I have been trusting myself with a little more confidence.”
Question: Craig, I remember reading during spring training that you had mentioned if you didn’t make The Major Leagues sometime during 2009 you would be disappointed. Now since you’ve got here, getting your feet wet, what have you learned that’s different for you from going from AAA to The Major Leagues? How much farther do you have to go?
Craig Stammen: “It’s a big difference—that’s why it’s called The Major Leagues and not AAA. But then again, I didn’t start this whole process back when I got drafted just to get here and say I have gotten to The Big Leagues. I’ve been working my butt off with these other three guys and (Shairon) Martis too—to stick around and put out a winner. A lot of good teams, the way they win, is with their starting five, their starting rotation takes them deep into games while winning. That’s my goal right now. The goal of getting to The Big Leagues is already gone and I have kind of forgotten about that. It’s time to move on and win games—because that is what we are here to do in The Big Leagues.”
Question: Ross, about your effectiveness in The Majors now—you are striking out many, if not more hitters than you did in The Minors. What do you liken it to? Has there been a change in your approach since last summer?
Ross Detwiler: “I though last year I really tried too hard and that really got me in trouble. I was living up in the zone a lot last year and falling behind hitters early. It’s a lot easier for hitters to a fastball on a fastball count. So this year I have really focused on keeping the ball down and I have really developed my changeup a lot more to keep hitters more off-balance.”
Question: Ross, to follow up on that. You have all moved pretty quickly. You’ve recently made a pretty significant leap in level. How big was it? Is the difference as big as we hear?
Ross Detwiler: “Definitely. I think in AA you can get away with a whole lot more pitches—especially up in the zone. And here (in The Majors) if you live up in the zone, like yesterday with (Brandon) Phillips (eventually game winning two run double), there’s a good example. That ball might not have been down the line in AA, where here, he is a good enough hitter that he puts it down the line and puts two more runs on the board for them (Cincinnati) which really buried me yesterday.”
Question: That said--are you frustrated at what you’ve done or encouraged? You pitched pretty well, but it’s such a fine line that one mistake was what did you in?
Ross Detwiler: “Yes, that becomes frustrating when it happens over and over again. Just going back to yesterday (Tuesday Night, June 9th) again. I can get out of that (situation) if I make my pitch and don’t give up those runs. That then puts our team in a better situation to win. So, yeah, I think it is frustrating because I know I needed to make a better pitch and gotten out of that.”
Question: Ross, in spring training you were sent down rather early. What’s clicked now that has brought everything together? You are a totally different pitcher than you were three months ago?
Ross Detwiler: “Right. Coming into spring training I kind of had the same mindset as last year. I was trying too hard and trying to be too fine—instead of getting ahead of hitters and being able to put them away. I think I came in during the 2nd or 3rd inning against The Cardinals in my first appearance in spring training and I walked a lot of guys because I was just trying to be too fine—and not letting them (the hitters) put the ball into play—and just getting outs. So I think I have just gotten away from trying to pitch away from contact and trying to let them hit it now.”
Question: “John, as the de facto leader since you’ve got the most Major League Experience as any of them (starters), the national media is having a field day taking easy pot shots at The Nats. Do you guys feel any of that? Is that something when you go on road trips, go to opposing cities, you are prepared for that type of scrutiny?
John Lannan: “We really don’t let it bother us. We know what we have to do. Our record hasn’t been that great but we know what we can do and not let it bother us. The media is going to say some stuff and they have their opinions and we know what the truth is and we know we just have to go out there and get some wins.”
That final answer concluded 15 Minutes With John Lannan, Jordan Zimmeramann, Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen.