Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Conversation With Jason Bergmann

Since the very first day I ever met him--Jason Bergmann has been just as curious about Nats320 than Sohna and I have been about him and Our Washington Nationals. Our Number 57 has always felt bloggers have a role in covering Washington's Team. I remember Jason telling Team President Stan Kasten at a January 2008 Winter Caravan Stop at The DC Convention Center: "Even if it's a blog--it's all media covering the team." And every time we have approached Bergmann for comments--he has been very gracious with his personal time. Just the other day, Jason Bergmann stopped to chat with The African Queen and I next to the the practice fields in Viera for a thorough look at where he stands currently with Our Washington Nationals. As always--everything was on the table for discussion.

With that--here we go with Our Conversation With Jason Bergmann.

I heard about the blister on your finger. (SBF)

“I don’t know if it’s a blister, it feels like more of a paper cut.”

From throwing? (SBF)

“The seams (of the baseball) I think. We will see. No, no doctor (laughing).”

Has there ever been a player-doctor? Like Doctor John Lannan—Pitcher?

Wasn’t there a Doctor Ron Schueler—Pitcher for The Atlanta Braves in the 1960’s? (SBF)

“Really don’t know?

Anyway, I know it’s early. (SBF)

“So far, it’s been outstanding—a pretty good camp. It’s played out well. The attitude in camp has been relaxed—just like Manny (Acta)—but purposeful. And I think everyone is having a good time down here. The weather finally became real nice. It was kind of cool and windy (Jason and his family live in Veira). It’s just absolutely gorgeous here today.”

Do you think there is more of an attitude to win now? (SBF)

“I would say every year we go in with the attitude to win. Sometime, such as last year, we went out with the attitude to win—won a few games—and unfortunately injuries hit. You know—stuff happens—but you never go into a season with the expectations to lose certainly.”

What is different about this year than those before? (The African Queen)

“I don’t think there is a lot different besides the personnel. I think the attitude is the same. The management is the same. A few different coaches, but the same premise is there. We were playing to win regardless of whether we have $20 Million Dollar Ball Players or Minimum Wage Ball Players. We are all here for the same purpose—to progress—get better—and put some Curly “W’s” in the book.”

How are the new coaches so far? (The African Queen)

“Professional—very straight forward. We have so much experience between (Jim) Riggleman and (Marquis) Grissom and (Pat) Listach—guys of that nature—it’s so good to have guys who have been around in the Big Leagues recently. And I think it makes it easier for our guys (players) to learn from them and draw some experience from them.”

Before we arrived down here in Viera, there were a couple of things that Manny talked to you about--what your role might be with the team this year? (SBF)

“Yeah, it’s always best to know what you are going for. There has been speculation on my part whether or not if I was staring or relieving? I probably have the most starts on this team in the past two years. Whether it has been an injury related thing or whatever—I have had my great games. I have had my good games and I have had my bad games. And they (Washington) have signed a few guys, acquired some guys in trades, and they want to promote some guys from the minors—and that is the business of baseball. But I think for me and for my career right now—I just need to figure out where they want me. I am a pitcher. I have pitched in a starting role. I have pitched in a relief role and I want to be a part of The Washington Nationals Major League Ball Club.”

I have had this conversation with a couple of baseball people in the last few days how you can be dominating at times—have you ever thought about being a closer? (SBF)

“Ah, like I said, (chuckles all around) it is never up to me. I have been a closer in the minors. I have been a long man; a short man. I think the only thing I haven’t been is a really short—righty only type guy. I have done every role asked of me and I am happy to do that.”

But is it something you would like to do—maybe? (SBF)

“I have done so many things, played so many roles, it’s like I said—I am here to help the team in anyway I can. I would be more than happy to do any role that is asked of me in order to make everything better. I am a consummate team player. I would love to do anything I can to make this team better.”

Last season, we specifically talked about this—you were opening up a lot with your body in your delivery—but you couldn’t control it? (SBF)

“Yep, it is something I know I am doing. It’s really just a hard thing to correct and I have tried my best. I am still doing it a little bit. Every little bit I can do on the side or in the bullpen beforehand or in long toss—I need to mentally prepare myself better to not do it as much—to minimize the problem. And if I can do that, muscle memory will take over and maybe my muscle will remember the good mechanics—instead of the bad ones (chuckling). But I never had any great instruction—in terms of pitching with great mechanics. My stepfather has been the most consistent influence in my baseball career. He sees stuff that I do all the time. I got coaches that see stuff all the time, but at this point, I know what I am doing wrong—it’s just really, really, hard to correct.”

But you are still working on those issues? (The African Queen)

“I would be stupid not to!! (Everyone laughing) Seriously, I have been working on it ever since I realized what my problem is. We have so much video to look at and people watching you to give you an idea of what is going on—like you are opening up a little bit. I know what I am doing—it’s something that continues to happen. We are talking about a high velocity, or fast delivery. We are not talking about something that is slow or easy to correct. When I slow down and do it on my own—it’s easy to tinker and change stuff. But when you are going out there in the heat of the moment it’s a little hard to keep things the way you want.”

Is that because last year when Sohna and I called you “Mr. 10% Chance of Rain” you worked too fast? Or were you thinking too much? (SBF)

“No, I just like to get the ball and throw—that’s the way I have always pitched. I have always been a fast tempo person. I like that. I have been told to relax and slow down a little bit. I think that is not me. I throw the thing that is working.”

Have you worked on your bunting skills? (SBF—plenty of laughter following the question).

“I have been NON-STOP bunting. (more chuckles) I have taken about probably 1000 balls so far in camp. And I don’t care if they say I am a middle reliever—this is something I would like to improve on. My career is not over after this year. There might be another chance at starting and I want to be prepared for that.”

Craig Heist from WTOP was joking that you and Daniel Cabrera are in competition for the worst bunters on the team? (SBF)

“That really is not fair because the year before—I think I batted .160 or .170—which is actually not too bad. Last year (2008) was just a bad year at the plate. I didn’t see the ball really well. And you know what it was—you guessed it—my mechanics. I got around to finally throwing in the towel—which was what I was doing. And I went and sought out real professional major league experienced help. I talked to Rick Eckstein for like 10 Minutes. In that 10-minute conversation, he totally changed my view of hitting. He’s got such a good insight it really is a shame we hadn’t gotten that before. Eck’s got a great head on his shoulders. He very easy to work with and he presents all the material very well. For me just to listen to him for a short while helped. That very day, after he gave me the info—I got a bunt down. I hit a ball deep and that’s really the progression I saw at the plate. And it came from a 10 minute conversation with someone that knows his stuff.”

With that final comment--Our Conversation With Jason Bergmann concluded. Not many players for Our Washington Nationals are unafraid of answering whatever questions come his way. Our Number 57 fields all inquiries. He doesn't back down. The African Queen and I love his honesty. Jason Bergmann is always refreshing to chat with.


Anonymous said...

It seems like Stan is enjoying this and has created a backup plan if nothing sticks to Jimbo soon....he is creating then feeding the whole "Jimbo is a distraction to the team" case by not allowing him to talk and then holding these rush, hush and attack impromptu press conferences on the very field he wants to protect from you all. Stan has waited a long time to get ride of Jimbo and it seems to me he is covering his bases (no pun) to make sure he does not lose this golden chance.

Anonymous said...

As Jason Bergmann talked about attitude, you also have to think of distraction.

The distraction on the Nats right now is JimBo.

A lot of credit has to be given to ownership and management last year. They didn't fire Manny or JimBo after last years disaster rather changes occurred with coaches.

With Frowneygate, you want the investigation to run its course. If ownership (and Stan is an owner) believes JimBo is too big of a distraction than they may need to deal with it now rather than later.

SBF is there in Florida, so he probably has his own observations. By looking at his photos of the players, it all looks good.

I find Stan to be a very fair guy and the Nats are lucky to have him!