Monday, June 21, 2010

Inside Pitch Live With Drew Storen

The 5th installment of Inside Pitch Live at The PNC Diamond Club took place on June 19th, 2010. Before every Saturday home game this seaon, a player or official from Our Washington Nationals takes questions and give answers for fans with premium seat tickets at Nationals Park. MASN's Rob Dibble moderated the Q & A. For this session, Rookie Pitcher Drew Storen was the guest of honor.

Here is the complete transcript:

Rob Dibble: Welcome to another edition of Inside Pitch where today’s guest is Drew Storen, one of the newest members of The Washington Nationals. Drew, thanks for joining us today.

Drew Storen: Thanks for having me.

Dibble: Let’s get the tough portion of the program out of the way with the inquisition and then we will take some questions from the audience. You signed a day after you were drafted. Did you just want to get your career started right away?

Storen: Yeah, that was a big thing for me. I was really excited to be drafted by The Nationals in that spot (10th overall in 2009). I knew I wanted to pitch and I didn’t want to waste any time sitting at home and twiddling my thumbs. So I signed, so I could be here faster.

Dibble: One year ago, you are in college, you’re were an A Ball player in Hagerstown, now you are in the Major Leagues--what’s it been like for you since last April?

Storen: It’s been pretty crazy. A world of experience and it’s impossible to soak in. And I don’t know when it will, but it’s been unbelievable. It’s a privilege to put on this uniform each day.

Dibble: Obviously, a good friend of yours, the guy you came up with--Stephen Strasburg--has made a nice impression. What are your impressions of him?

Storen: Obviously, his stuff you just can’t mess with. But the way he has handled himself, so composed, under such a microscope. He’s winning those big spots in the game when the crowd is really into it. He’s got the 2-2 count and then throws a fastball at 100--blowing right past someone. That’s tough for any rookie to do. But for him with that type of pressure--and the why he’s handled--it has been great.

Dibble: Are you surprised? Now, your father (Mark Patrick) has worked in the media for years. I’ve worked with your dad for four years over at Sirius XM. So you are really savvy when it comes to media. I couldn’t handle what he’s been going through (Strasburg). Are you impressed by what he’s doing?

Storen: Oh yeah, unbelievable. It’s the fact that he doesn’t sit down and watch himself on TV. He doesn’t watch.

Dibble: Would you?

Storen: Yeah!!

Dibble: I know I dig me, so I would to: Wow!!

Storen: When you have your own timeline going on SportsCenter--that’s pretty cool. I am amazed at how he shuts all that out. And it’s not like he sorts through the good stuff and the bad stuff--he’s doesn’t listen to it at all. He just cares about pitching. I don’t understand how he can do it, but that’s why he is so successful.

Dibble: You majored in Product Design at Stanford. And there are a lot of different uniforms in the Major Leagues. Do you have a favorite? Do you have a favorite hat design?

Storen: I think my favorite uniform is our blues with the “DC”. Yeah, that one is pretty cool. Any of the cream colored uniforms I think are pretty cool just because they are so classic.

Dibble: What are you rocking right now with?

Storen: Mizuno.

Dibble: Mizuno came to you. Would you try to design your own spike?

Storen: Oh yeah. Whether they like it or not--that’s another issue (laughter). They probably have a few guys that can do better.

Dibble: You made your debut in St. Louis. Your dad used to take you to games there when you were little.

Storen: That was crazy. It really was one of those things that I wasn’t necessarily nervous, because I didn’t know what to be nervous about? It was so big, you couldn’t wrap your head around it. It probably wasn’t until the third or fourth appearance that I started to get butterflies because I understood what was going on. There were 10’s of thousands of people in Busch Stadium yelling--not for me--for Albert Pujols, and it was pretty cool. The coolest thing about it was that I got to hear the (P.A.) guy say my name: “making his major league debut”--which for me I thought that was only in the movies. So for me--that was pretty cool. It still brings a smile to my face when I talk about it.

Dibble: Now I know you collect hats, bobbleheads--but what was it like to be on your own baseball card for the first time?

Storen: That was pretty cool. I still have unopened sets of cards that Dad got me when I was a kid. Just to have one (a personal baseball card) that I hadn’t pasted together myself--was pretty cool. It’s something that’s still funny to see, especially when I am signing autographs. It’s surreal to see that. I still wait for them to take away my jersey because I feel I am in a fantasy camp right now.

Dibble: No, they are not going to take away your jersey.

Dibble: New age technology, texting, iphones, ipads--all those sorts of things. Does it make it easier to stay in touch with your friends from Stanford and how many texts do you get every time they see you pitch?

Storen: It really is easier, it works out well. Fortunately, at Stanford, it’s summertime. So the kids from Stanford are all around the country (on break). So wherever we play, I usually know someone in that city and they want to see me play. I will probably get a certain number of text messages depending on how well I threw. Some nights you are not getting very many because people feel awkward and don’t want to send anything. But on nights things go pretty well, you get about 35 or 40--and a couple of voice mails. It’s cool as it adds up--especially if you get on SportsCenter--that’s when my friends get really fired up about that.

Dibble: Yeah, but most times if you appear on SportCenter it’s because you just gave up a hit.

Storen: Exactly (laughing). Late in the game, you have got to do something remarkable in a positive way to get on SportsCenter.

Dibble: When you are not out there pitching--hanging around in D.C.--in this area, where do you like to hang out?

Storen: Well, I don’t know yet. I’ve just been roaming around.

Dibble: That’s scary.

Storen: Yeah. But we live in Arlington. That’s a good area and I’ve become a big fan of D.C. Like I said previously, I'm still wrapping my head around things. There are a lot of things to see. I’ve seen some of the monuments, been to a museum or two--but I need more time to do it.

Dibble: Who is your mentor in the bullpen? Who are you closest to?

Storen: I would say, back in spring training, Cappy (Matt Capps) really took me under his wings. He took me to dinner and kind of laid it out. Now, during the games, probably Tyler Walker. He’s kind of like the ring leader of the bullpen. He’s got the best sense of humor of anybody I have ever played with. He keeps things light. And if we have time, I will sit there with him and ask: What have you got on this guy? And he will tell me what he knows. We will still talk about pitching. Last night, we were talking about sinkers. You know, when you have that much time down in the bullpen, you must utilize a resource like that as it’s only going to help me. What he has done for me has been comforting.

Dibble: Now, I do see you walking down to the bullpen each night with a backpack on. What is in your backpack?

Storen: We’ve got a wide variety of things.

Dibble: Let me explain this to the listeners first. Rookie in the bullpen, what do you have to do every day?

Storen: Carry a backpack with all the goodies in it. So it’s water--and it depends on where we are at. If they have water, or gatorade, stuff like that out there. Usually I’ll pack up water, red bull, gatorade--a variety of things--snickers, sunflower seeds.

Dibble: Now they have everything available. When I was playing a few years ago, they had just one flavor. And that was salt (sunflower seeds)

Storen: Yeah, you get a wide variety of mixture. That way, if you are feeling for it one day, you want some ranch or some barbecue--you can go with that. Or, they even have dill pickle--which is one of my favorites (seriously).

Dibble: So they haven’t made you wear a dress yet (rookie hazing).

Storen: No, that’s why I am trying to get some sun on my legs so they can look nice (chuckling).

Question from Audience: Welcome to D.C. My question is, how do you adjust to playing in the Major Leagues?

Storen: Between the lines there is not much difference. Obviously, the hitters are much better and the players behind me are a lot better, but the biggest difference is getting into the routine off the field--because there is a lot more going on. There are a lot more opportunities to do some cool things. The media and things like this that you really don’t do in the minor leagues. So it’s a matter of falling into a routine to get your work done while doing things like this. That’s been my biggest thing, just getting into a routine of things. But you first need to know how to go about your business.

Dibble: As far a being a closer in college, and now you are a set up guy, 7th & 8th inning type of guy--how’s that adjustment going for you? And do you really care?

Storen: I don’t care. It’s still the same. It’s more the mentality. I really enjoy coming in with men on base and working out of jams. I do the same routine as a closer, as a set up guy. I’ve just moved everything up a few innings. Now I begin to get ready in the 4th and 5th inning--instead of the 6th and 7th inning.

Dibble: Any superstitions?

Storen: Not really.

Dibble: You wear the same shoes every game?

Storen: Same underwear. (laughter)

Dibble: You have a Stanford tee-shirt?

Storen: No. I just wear the same underwear. It’s washed!!! (laughter).

Dibble: How nice is it to have the carte blanche--staying at the Ritz-Carlton everywhere. People are picking up the luggage for you--stuff like that. Pretty much the only thing you have to concentrate on is the baseball.

Storen: It’s unbelievable. Now you need the extra concentration knowing how good these guys are (in the Majors). So you really come to appreciate that stuff. And it’s amazing to see the difference in that. It goes to show you how much bigger things are here. There is a bigger side to everything. I was so flustered the first four or five days. I just followed around guys and asked plenty of questions.

Dibble: As far as you getting meal money--per diem on the road. You seem like a smart, savvy young guy with your money. What are you doing with the extra meal money?

Storen: We had an off-day in Detroit and there was a nice mall that we went to. And we tend to stay next to malls on the road. So a full wardrobe change can happen. There could be a dark side to it, but I enjoy shopping.

Dibble: I know you enjoy clothes--do you buy anything extravagant?

Storen: I got a real nice watch. I’ve become a watch person of late. I got myself a nice watch. I got myself a nice briefcase. All of the things my mom probably wouldn’t want me to get if it were her money.

Question from a kid: How fast can you pitch?

Storen: Usually, a good 97 (MPH).

Question from another kid: What’s you favorite pitch?

Storen: That’s a good one. (Dibble mumbles “strike”) Yeah, a strike is my favorite pitch. But I would say my favorite pitch is my slider. That’s my favorite one to throw. You are a little young to be throwing one--so go without one for a little bit.

Dibble: When you are looking at the catcher, what do you concentrate on--for these young guys? I know I used to always look at his shoulders and knees and throw to the whole box. Some guys are more on his glove and stuff like that. I found that at the lower level, it was better to pound the box.

Storen: I actually aim off the hitter. I do it all off feel. If you look at my head, which is probably not a good thing, I don’t look at the catcher until late. So, if I am struggling I have to tell myself, hey--look at the catcher. But the majority of the time, I throw to the hitter. I aim off the hitter.

Dibble: Off shoulders and hips, yeah, I did the same thing. I threw it right at them.

Storen: Yeah, but I don’t have that luxury. If I can’t handle it, they will come out and talk to you about it.

Question: You just said earlier, you like to come in to the 8th and 9th innings, where do you find that nerve, that I want to be there with the game on the line?

Storen: I kind of became a junky for it in college. I started doing it my freshman year--right off the bat. I got thrown into tough situations. Once I learned to deal with the nerves of it all--I still get nervous--but I get more excited about that stuff now. And I kind of like being that guy on the mound. Some say they don’t want to be that guy on the mound coming in to the game. But that’s just what I like to do.

Question: Have you been a pitcher all your life?

Storen: I started when I was eight years old. I started doing it in the front yard. I watched Tim Wakefield throw and I thought it was cool he was throwing a knuckleball. So I started to try to do that. Then I told my dad I wanted to pitch. So immediately, he took me to a pitching coach because he didn’t want to mess me up. I didn’t even know until high school that I was really going to go anywhere pitching because I didn’t throw very hard. I kind of grew (up). At first, I thought I was going to be a hitter. I wanted to be a shortstop. Pitching just became my thing.

Dibble: Before we go, I wanted to ask about your dad making you switch hit?

Storen: My first tee-ball practice, I come back, I’m pretty fired up because I had to do more work than the rest of the kids. My dad, I don’t understand him. I had to hit from both sides of the plate on the tee--while everyone else just hit on one. He says: look, you will understand one day. One day you will understand. And that’s how it worked out. So that’s why in my first Major League At-Bat, I hit with the batboy’s helmet because I need full (ear) flaps. (and got a single)

Dibble: It took me four to five years to get my first hit in the big leagues. You step up your first time and single.

Storen: That was not something that crossed my mind. You go in and pitch, and oh yeah, you have to hit and get a base hit. I was just trying not to fall down, throw the bat in the stands. On an 0-1 fastball, I took a big hack on it--trying to hit it. Then I got a curve ball--just trying to make contact--and I got a hit. That’s still a lot of fun to think about. Still, one of my favorite moments.

Dibble: The first hit I ever gave up, I got Gary Templeton’s bat. The first home run I ever gave up, I got Tim Raines bat. Anything else you have collected so far?

Storen: I just keep all the balls. I give those to dad. The big thing for me is I want to keep the jerseys. I am a huge jersey person. I got to keep the throwbacks. The throwbacks from the other day (against Cleveland).

Dibble: I’ve got some cheap Nasty Boys clothing if you want it.

Storen: I would absolutely love to have some.

With that final answer, Inside Pitch Live at The PNC Diamond Club concluded on June 19th, 2010 before Our Washington Nationals took on The Chicago White Sox. The next Inside Pitch Live will take place on Saturday, July 3rd before Washington takes on The New York Mets. The Guest to be announced at a later date.

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