Monday, January 14, 2008

A Few Minutes With Jason Bergmann

As well as Jason Bergmann pitched at times during the 2007 Season for Our Washington Nationals--you could never say luck was on his side. Heading into the 8th inning at RFK Stadium on May 14th--Our Number 57 was pitching the game of his life--a no hitter against The Atlanta Braves that had the Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street--Rocking. A Monday Night memory was in the works. Eventually though--Jason would leave after surrendering two hits--including a home run to Brian McCann. Our Washington Nationals would go on to win--and many fans left believing a new rising star had been found wearing The Red, White & Gold.

Then, the very next morning--unexpectantly, Bergmann would go on the disabled list--with elbow tightness--and did not return to pitch any game for one month, also against The Braves. This began an up and down season for a youngster looking to make his mark in the game. Less than one month after returning from his elbow injury--Our Number 57 went down again. This time, while attempting to score from third at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Not only was Jason out at the plate--but out of the starting lineup once again--with a slightly torn hamstring.

Just when everyone was starting to believe--Jason Bergmann was finding his Major League Game--he found himself--starting all over again. Bergmann would miss even more during the 2007 campaign--A Full Two Months of a Six Month Regular Season lost.

No, at the end of the 2007 Campaign, he didn't break out--but Jason Bergmann turned some heads and found respect as a Major League Pitcher. A Starter that many in Our Washington Nationals Organization are depending on for 2008.

This week, Our Number 57 is willingly participating in the current Winter Tour being conducted by Our Team. This past Saturday Afternoon--I caught up with Jason at the first scheduled stop--The DC Convention Center. Last spring--when I first met Jason Bergmann in Viera, Florida--he surprised me when mentioning that he reads the various Nats Blogs at times--as a way of gauging fans interests and feelings. Jason was the first Washington National to openly express to me that writing a blog about a team can be an interesting read.

When Sohna and I saw him this weekend at The NBC4 Health Expo he recognized us, and kindly agreed to speak with me for a few minutes after signing autographs for fans.

So--here is my chat with Jason Bergmann:

You ready for me? (SBF)

“I am ready.”

OK, last year you told me at Spring Training you would do ANYTHING this team asked you to do to make the team. How do you feel about that—heading into a new season? (SBF)

“I feel the exact same way. If you have the honor and privilege to play Major League Baseball, you should do whatever you can to stay there. If they want me to play right field, I will, if they want. (Chuckling). It’s a big honor to be at this level to perform against the individuals you go against day in and day out. This year should be a lot of fun. Last year, I thought everyone believed it (our season) was a project year. I thought we played very well. But, this year, I think many are expecting higher and bigger roles (to play). We have certainly added several players who have a lot of potential (Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes). This team could be very, very good.”

“In fact, I think this team (Our Washington Nationals) could be scary good.”

“But, this is a potential year. If we can play with as much heart as we did last year, we will put up a good year.”

Personally, for you—injuries aside—you were pretty good last year. What was different about your efforts? (SBF)

“Once you get the ability to pitch up here (The Majors), you get a little more confidence every time you go out there (on the mound), a little more success each time. Having a full year playing with (Pitching Coach Randy) St.Claire, and having him on my butt—do this, do that—make sure you get this, going through the tendencies each time with the same teams, going against the same hitters—you learn a little bit.”

“As you know—we lost an asset with (Brian) Schneider, but I am looking forward to working out with (Paul) LoDuca. For me, in general, I want to be a little more consistent. Like you said, injuries factored in to me losing two months last year, and who knows what might have happened in those two months.”

Speaking of Schneider, how might that change your game with a new catcher? (SBF)

“I don’t think it will change my game, because we have St.Claire back. St.Claire is the driving force behind everything. You don’t hear much about him, but he does such a great job pulling guys aside, working with them, going through tendencies—he works harder than anybody I know. It’s a guy like that, which is the driving force behind our pitching staff.”

Everybody says something nice about Randy St.Claire and how he has helped their work. Does the guy EVER SLEEP!!? (SBF)

“I don’t think he does!!” (Both of us laughing)

Its incredible really, the compliments he gets. Moving from RFK Stadium to the new park—no one knows how it’s going to play yet—but it will probably be a little better hitter’s park. Your thoughts? (SBF)

“I don’t see how it can be (a better hitters park). Its going to be much more open (stadium). RFK Stadium was more enclosed. Who knows if those numbers on the outfield fences were correct, but—the numbers for the pitchers might go up a little bit—but our hitters numbers will certainly go up too. Things will even out.”

You seem pretty hopeful about the team right now. What do you think of the direction right now? (SBF)

“If you told me last year, we would have a set outfield, a set infield, and a pretty set bullpen—I would have been pretty happy. On our pitching staff, we have all the same guys. Everyone knows who they are now. There are not as many question marks as there was last year. So, I believe everyone is a little more confident in this year’s team. We got some new additions, new blood—so there might be a different atmosphere in the clubhouse.”

“Dmitri (Young) is back in the clubhouse. I think EVERYONE is happy to see him back. We are going to have Nick Johnson back—hopefully healthy this year. You look at our outfield right now—we have potential for three, maybe four, guys that can hit 30 or more Home Runs---that’s pretty amazing.”

Manny Acta also appears to have a bench to play with this year? (SBF)

“Yes, we have Rob Macowiak, and we got (Aaron) Boone. We have many guys this year that have the experience and who can fill in easily in a pinch. That’s awesome. And to get everyone back healthy—myself, (Shawn) Hill, (John) Patterson—if we can all come back and have years as expected—our starting rotation will be just fine too.”

Final Question—Moral Wise—if Nick Johnson comes back as expected—what kind of boost could that return provide for this team? (SBF)

“I think just having him back on the field will be an extreme moral boost. The fans will easily get behind him. And that gives Manny and The Management an awesome problem to have—in just too many great players. Everyone’s been keeping their eye on Nick—and this year could be an interesting year.”

There is potential for a fun year. (SBF)

“No question, it could be a GREAT YEAR!!”

That concludes my Chat with Jason Bergmann. What's really fascinating about speaking with him--is that Our Number 57 seemingly respects the fact that he's playing Major League Baseball. Jason appreciates the novelty of his job. A feeling that seems lost at times with other players. And like most people of character--Bergmann only speaks highly of others, little about himself--while giving everyone else credit for his success. That's a quality person in my book.

PS--When Jason signed a Photo for me on Saturday at The Convention Center--he personalized his signature with "Keep The Blogs Comin!!" Gotta Love That.

PSS--Also, Sohna asked Jason if he was one of the nats players who got married during this off season (Matt Chico and Mike O'Connor were a few of the others). "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am," replied Bergmann. The African Queen followed with: "Did you have a chance for a honeymoon?" Sighing--Jason responded: "No, Washington will be our honeymoon." Fortunately--The New Mrs. Bergmann is not from The DC Area--so she will have plenty of new experiences in front of her. We were happy for him, just saddened by the fact they could not get away before the season began.

1 comment:

paul said...

Really interesting conversation. Sounds like a great guy. You could really tell in spring training last year he was a more confident pitcher. The one game I saw, he blew away the heart of the Tigers' lineup. Here's the rub, though. He, like many of the others, including our favorite starter Mr. Hill, need to prove they can pitch with the lead. Tidy ERA's are nice, but it's all about wins and losses. Of course we remember run support varied widely for our starters last year, and it was often poor. This year there should be lots of run support and games past 10 pm!