Friday, February 26, 2010

Matt Capps Is Happy Chris Duncan Is Now A Teammate

Since the very day Matt Capps was introduced as a member of Our Washington Nationals, he has been nothing short of gracious and giving with his time. Today was no different. Matt personally came over to chat with us after completing his personal training drills and proceeded to tell us a fabulous story about his competitive baseball relationship with now teammate Chris Duncan. A good example of the oddities of the game when players switch teams in professional sports.

With that here is Our Conversation With Matt Capps.

How strange is it to be in a new camp with a team that you’ve never been with before?

“It’s really not been too bad. The guys have been good to me. They have helped me feel right at home from the first day. And having Nyjer (Morgan) and Burney (Sean Burnett) here, even though this is also their first camps--they were with The Nats at the end of last year. So we are kind of going through all of this together. But everybody has really made me feel right at home. I feel like I am a part of it, so it hasn’t been that much of an adjustment for me after all.”

Do you actually find yourself walking around the locker room introducing yourself to those you do not know?

(smiling and shaking his head up and down) “Yeah, the first couple of days you do. It’s like the first day of school. You see someone standing at their locker and you go up and say: ‘Hey, I’m Matt Capps, nice to meet ya.’ It’s definitely different in that regard. But I have now played against enough of these guys that I’ve gotten comfortable with them over the years. We are just all now wearing the same jersey.”

Is there anyone now a teammate that in the past you have a history with--good or bad?

“Oh yeah. Like Chris Duncan has owned me!! (laughing) I think he is like nine for 11 hitting against me (everyone busting out laughing). And the two times I actually got him out, he hit rockets to the centerfielder that just happened to land in a glove on the fly. (gotta love the humor here). Yeah, that kind of breaks the ice too, when it comes to meeting new teammates.”

So what did you say to Duncan when you first saw him?

“He was talking to Rick Eckstein (Hitting Coach). They were talking about hitting or whatever. I was walking by and I said to Eck: ‘Just tell him to do whatever he does when I am pitching and he will be a Hall Of Famer!!” (everyone busting out laughing)

“That actually happened and was a nice ice breaker and made everything a little more comfortable for me.”

From your standpoint as a veteran--do you help out the new guys that have never been to a big league camp before?

You better believe it. I remember my first camp. I don’t think I said three words the entire month and a half I was there. (laughing) I was just soaking it in, keeping my mouth shut and enjoying it. But it’s fun. It’s an exciting time for anyone. And hopefully the beginning of a long career. It’s why we all are here, to be big league players.”

This is the first day of a six week process. How long does it take you to get ready?

“It really depends. There are days you come out here and you are ready physically. Then there are days like today that your legs are a little heavy, your back is sore and everything is more like getting back into the swing of it all. It really doesn’t matter what you do in the off-season. Even if you are in great shape, you are going to be sore the first week by just being on your feet all day. And in wearing spikes, there is always a transition period. But for me personally, I like to stretch it out and throw two or three innings so that the one inning is not that difficult. I felt good throwing my BP today. I’ve certainly got a long way to go before the season gets here and there are a lot of things I need to work on. That is what we are here for.”

With that being said, last year was more difficult for you than any previous major league season. What is it that you must work on to get back to where you were two years ago?

“I just need to keep the ball down. That was the biggest thing last year. I was elevating the ball too much. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw in this league. The hitters are good. If you keep the ball up around the belt, they are going to hit it and the ball is going to fall in. Then runners are going to get on base and the solo homer becomes a two or three run job. And that’s what beats you.”

In your job, it really is all about limiting damage, isn’t it?

“Oh yeah, that is my sole job. I need to get the hitter out. But, I also understand these guys are going to get their hits. I need to keep the ball in the ballpark-- maybe limit that double to a single. When your team is trouble it is my job to get the game back under control. It’s why I am called into the game. It’s why I am here getting ready for the season.”

With that final answer Our Conversation With Matt Capps concluded. In a short period of time, Washington's new designated closer has become one of our favorites on the team. Matt Capps has a great attitude, always friendly and just terrific with every single fan we've seen him come across over the past few months.

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Positively Half St. said...

Thanks, SBF-

I am rooting for Chris Duncan to be the surprise addition to the roster, with injuries a thing of the past. This was a good reminder that folks haven't forgotten how good a hitter he had been and could be.

Unknown said...

SBF - Nice write up. Sounds like Matt is a fun guy to have in the clubhouse. Hope you get a chance to do one with Jesus Flores.