Nationals pitcher Garrett Mock gives us an update of how spring training is going so far as I caught up with him for a question and answer session. We talked about his two bullpen sessions and what he thinks of pitching in the first game of spring training.
On pitching in the first split squad game March 4th against the Astros (J.D. Martin will start the other split squad game vs. the Marlins):
"It should be a fun experience. It doesn't mean that much to me to be the first starter in spring training. It's like getting picked first for kickball. It doesn't mean you are the best kickball player (laughing)."
"I am glad I don't have to wait too long to get in the game. I just want to get out there and do the things I was meant to do."
On the amount of talent they brought in for pitching:
"It is a very different atmosphere this year in camp. I think that going into the season all of the guys they brought in are proven pitchers. They know how to win, they know they will be contributors. Everyone is competing for spots in the rotation, bullpen and roster. I absolutely believe in myself but it comes down to execution."
You have now thrown two bullpen sessions. Tell me about the first one, how did it go?
"The first bullpen session went fine. I felt like I was throwing the ball well. I was throwing the ball down in the zone, and I feel like I have been repeating my delivery and all of the lessons learned last year I am trying to apply this year. One of those things is being in attack mode. My mind set is being in attack mode even in bullpen. I need to throw quality pitches down in the zone."
How did the second session go?
"Today, we threw another bullpen today indoors. It's not the same obviously as being outside. I got my work in. Everything is running very smoothly. I have a lot of things to be encouraged about."
What did the coaches say about your bullpen session?
"Randy Knorr, now the Harrisburg manager, was directly behind me today he was watching my session. When I got done, he gave me a couple of quick pointers on finishing my pitches and what I did from the wind up to the pitch. He asked me what I felt. What I felt was synonymous with what they saw. All the coaches have been very helpful with the way they are approaching my pitching.
"I tried to work on finishing my pitches. I tried to throw the pitch down in the zone make sure I was watching my pitch and throwing to that spot.
"Jamie Burke caught for me in the first session and today Jesus Flores caught my second bullpen."
Is there a pitcher or pitchers you hang out with?
"Matt Chico is a good friend of mine. We got traded on the same day part of same transaction. In '05 and '06 we trained together and we played catch every day of my career when we were both healthy."
What do you think of Stephen Strasburg? Had you met him before?
"I met Stephen last year in Miami before the postseason instructional program. I sat with him on the flight. We had a few days at home and on the road to long toss and throw bullpens. He was always out there working early to get ready. I got to visit with him quite a bit. He is a wonderful guy.
"He was raised right. He has unbelievable character. He can be a front line major league guy. Strasburg cares about the people and fans around him and will do a great job in community relations. I enjoyed visiting with him."