Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Side Session With Jason Marquis
During his Introductory Press Conference and subsequent Side Session with reporters this afternoon at Nationals Park--Jason Marquis came across as a straight shooter--not one to answer any question with that generic response. Marquis seemed well versed in the current roster of Our Washington Nationals. And when asked about what personnel decisions made by Washington's Baseball Management stirred his interest the most over the course of the past few months--immediately stated: "Strasburg".
Here is Jason Marquis' side session with reporters at Nationals Park this afternoon:
Question: As you were going into the off-season and starting to come to some idea as to where you were going to look, how many teams were in your mind? Where The Nationals there from the beginning? I know you have said you met some guys and had a sense of it here. Where they (The Nationals) there from the beginning (in the decision process)?
“Yes, they definitely were. I sit down with my family. It is a family decision with my wife. We have three kids. Now I don’t know what input they have when they are five and three (years old) and a newborn-- (laughing)—and my agent. We sit down and I tell him my desired list of teams--where I would like to be. And if there is a fit, there is a fit. If there isn’t, there isn’t. The Washington Nationals were definitely on that list.”
Question: Among how many teams?
“You come up with four or five teams you would love to go to. There has to be a common interest there. You can sell or pitch to anyone you want, but if there is no interest, there is no interest. They (The Nationals) were on the list of four or five teams we were interested.”
Question: But this is a team that has lost 100 games back to back on your list? That raises an eyebrow or two?
“Not really. You can see the direction the team is going. If you look at pure numbers, pitching might have been one of the main reasons they lost that many games. With the addition of Pudge (Rodriguez) you can help a pitching staff out. And with myself, who has been on some winning teams and had success for the last six years. Maybe, there is more room to add another pitcher. This team could be competitive and a team that is going in the right direction and that is something I want to be apart of.”
Question: They are going to try to improve it defensively. But when you look at Zim (Ryan Zimmerman), a Gold Glover—obviously, when you look at Pudge, his record speaks for itself. And now Nyjer Morgan in centerfield, you have got to feel pretty good about that?
“Very good. Cristian Guzman has pretty good hands up the middle also. Any team I have been on, pitching and defense is usually a pretty good formula for success. If you are strong up the middle, like you said, with Nyjer, Pudge and Cristian—if you can get your hands on another great defensive guy up the middle—that is a recipe for success.”
Question: You are going to be the man here (in the starting rotation). I am just wondering what that will be like for you?
“I have always taken the attitude that I always want to be the guy. I always want the ball every fifth day. But I think if pitchers took the attitude that every time they take the ball—they (should be called) the number one. What good does it do to be number one the day after he pitches—because he does nothing for the ball club? I think if pitchers in general took the mindset: ‘I am your number one today.’ It would give them a little more confidence and a little more edge because your 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 go out the window come May because the rotation is off. You might get a number 5 against a number 1. You still have to compete and beat that guy. Maybe the first three weeks of the season that’s when 1-2-3 come into play. So over the course of the year, if guys really took the mentality of no matter who I am facing—because you are not facing a Chris Carpenter—you are facing The St.Louis Cardinals lineup. And if you get those guys out, it doesn’t matter what Chris Carpenter does—you are going to have success.”
Question: One year you gave up 35 home runs (2006), which was the most in the league that year. But the last two years you have only given up 15 each season. What are you doing differently now that you weren’t doing then?
“I don’t remember that year (chuckling). I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Questioner: It was actually a year where you had a very good record.
“Yeah, I know. I was just not that consistent in staying down in the zone when it came to my delivery. It got a little out of whack. I wasn’t in the same arm slot and didn’t allow myself to make pitches time and time again. The past two years, especially this year in Colorado working with Bob Apodaca—we allowed myself to make changes to my delivery that allowed me to be more consistent down in the zone. There is no secret. My stuff for the last five or six years has not changed. It is just the consistency of it. It has gotten better over time and I have learned what I am capable of and what I am capable of doing with it.”
Question: You mentioned in the press conference talking to John Lannan.
“That was at the ball yard after the game, just talking. I got to know Zim (Ryan Zimmerman), not only from the All-Star Game, but also at a couple of charity events. You know—he loves it here. Obviously, there is a reason why he signed here. He saw they were moving in the right direction. Last year was a little bit of a tough year for them (fading off). But Lannan stressed at one point there was a lot of pressure on him to lead a staff when he was a second year player and didn’t know what it was all about. He did a great job doing it—throwing 200 plus innings, sub 4.00 ERA, and taking the ball every five days. That is what it is all about. And it not only goes from all of that stuff, but learning in between starts how to act with the media; how to act with the fans; how to take care of yourself. I am glad to be apart of this and, hopefully, he can make some good out of it.”
Question: You said you are a guy that really pays close attention to transactions that teams are making. With The Nationals, was there any previous move along the line that made you really start to take notice they were doing things right?
“It starts with the (Stephen) Strasburg move, obviously. They could have easily not taken him because maybe the money is too high. Some teams with the way it is structured there is no trading draft picks like other sports. They (The Nationals) showed a commitment to taking the number one and getting the deal done. Then in the off-season, obviously, getting (Brian) Bruney from The Yankees—a pretty good setup man. Pudge (Rodriguez), his track record speaks for itself. It just showed they wanted to make moves in the right direction. And it was just an accumulation of all these moves together.”
Question: Are you one of those guys who are watching MLB Network at midnight?
“No, I was not on my coach watching every detail of every negotiation or move. But I keep an eye on all situations. Like said, I knew they were going in the right direction and have the right idea.”
Question: How tempting was it to go back home to New York (Mets)?
“There was a list of teams. There was not one team ahead of another. I had my list of teams. It’s home for me. It’s only natural that most people would want to be around their family, but that is not the only thing. I’ve been around. I have played on four other teams that haven’t been (situated) in New York. So, there wasn’t a need to play in New York. It turned out great that one of the teams on my list showed a lot of interest—just like I showed interest in them.”
Question: You mentioned you drew up a list of things you were looking for in a new team. What were those interests that matched you up with The Nationals?
“The moves they made to go in the right direction to become a competitive team. Not only in 2010, but beyond. National League, East Coast—so there were a lot of factors. This looked like a good bunch of guys (when) playing on the other side having fun. It’s tough to show that exuberance when you lose 100 games, but you still saw how they still cared about each other. You see that from the celebration when they won big games. And that is fun to be a part of.”
Question: When you played for The Rockies, The Cubs, The Cardinals—you were known for being a good hitting pitcher—did Lou Piniella, Tony LaRussa come to you on your non-pitching days and say: ‘be ready, you are one of my guys off the bench.’
“I am prepared every day. I told them right from the get-go, my spikes are on; my uniform is on; I read the situation in games; I do my stretching and get loose because I know there is a possibility I could be pinch running for somebody, maybe bunt for somebody or be in a situation where I may just be hitting in the 4th or 5th inning because maybe a starter gets banged around a little bit.”
Question: Back at RFK Stadium in 2005 when you pitched for The Cardinals, you pitched a shutout here—I think the scored was 6-0. Then in 2006, you were involved in a near no-hitter at RFK when Ramon Ortiz came close for Washington. What do you remember about playing at RFK Stadium those first few years after baseball returned to Washington?
“The spaciousness, the big ballpark—just the history of back in the day with the old Washington Senators, the football (with The Redskins). It was an outdated stadium and was getting old. You saw there was a necessary move they had to make to upgrade. Pitching wise, I threw some pretty good games in that stadium—which brings back some good memories.”
Question: “Would you like to see the power alleys move from over there to here at Nationals Park?
(Laughing) “I’ll take them it they can. I would never turn that down as long as we have some speedy outfielders to get to the ball.”
Question: There was a time when RFK was not considered big. It was considered neutral by most people.
“Well, times have changed and offense sells—just like in football to basketball to baseball.”
With that final answer, today Side Session With Jason Marquis concluded.
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