Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Last week, Cardinals pitcher Mike Maroth joined me on the MLB Rumors Talk Show to talk some baseball. I had a lot of questions for him, and he answered them all very thoroughly. Mike currently has his own website, www.marothbaseball.com, and he will starts blogging on it very soon. I want to thank Mike for donating his time to me and MLB Rumors. I also want to thank Matt Kramer at Career Sports & Entertainment for setting up my third interview. If it wasn't for him, I would not have been able to do any of these, so I really appreciate it.
ELI: Are you guys in Texas now?
MIKE: We are. We are getting ready to start a three game series.
ELI: There we go. Did you hear that Vicente Padilla isn't starting tonight?
MIKE: No, I did not hear that.
ELI: John Rheinecker is pitching. Just called him up.
MIKE: Oh really.
ELI: How do you think the team will have to prepare differently? Watch some extra tape before they go out?
MIKE: Well usually we do not go over hitters until we start the series. After our batting practice or even before batting practice. We haven't even gone over Texas yet. We'll do that at the ballpark. By then, obviously-you know I do not think we will have anything on him. If we do, we'll kind of go over it, but if we don't, there is nothing we can really do about it.
ELI: You guys have this three game series versus the Rangers and then you take your next thirteen games against the National League. Is there an extra importance on winning these games before taking it to the All-Star Break against the National League?
MIKE: I am a big fan of the interleague play so I enjoy facing the National League and experience more of the National League game. Seeing different parks-so it is a nice change in the middle of the season. You know it doesn't really matter who you are facing as far as winning. We've been struggling in our past two games versus Cleveland so we are looking to take that momentum into this series and up against the National League teams.
ELI: What was it like being on a team that struggled for so many years to finally make it to the World Series?
MIKE: It was amazing. I wish I could have been apart of it as far as getting to play but I was there to experience it and watch guys that I had been playing with for several years go out there and play on the big spotlight in the World Series. You know it was awesome just to see where we were a couple years ago to making it to the ultimate goal, playing in the World Series.
ELI: What kind of progression are you seeing from some of the young pitchers, Zach Minor specifically?
MIKE: He came in last year- he was actually the guy that took over for me after I had to have surgery. He came in and did a tremendous job.
ELI: Have you seen a lot of changes now that it is his second year?
MIKE: You know, not really. I think I saw a lot from last year and I think by him coming in to a rotation that was doing exceptionally well, had been pitching well. So for him to come in when he did last year and be able to fit right in-I think he spent a lot of time with the guys, so he was able to build off them. He just took the whole confidence that the pitching staff was giving him and really kind of fit right in. So you know he did a great job-and out of spring training he didn't make the team but got a chance a few weeks ago to come up and he has done a good job for us since then.
ELI: You've been the topic of some new trade rumors, do they bother you?
MIKE: I try not to worry about them. Nothing new, every year. Every year since I've been in the big leagues there has always been some kind of talk. nothings happened-so I try not to worry about it. I'll just wait until it actually happens, but until it does, I won't think about it.
ELI: Many players react differently when they are under contract and when they are not, some take it as an audition every game, some look at it as a way to showcase themselves, do you think about it?
MIKE: I don't even think about that. The biggest thing I am trying to think about is just getting back. You know get back in the swing of things after missing so much time last year. Just trying to get back to where I was before the surgery last year. Get into a nice rhythm and I really think my mechanics have come along way from spring training and into the beginning of the year. They are getting to where I feel they need to be and now it is just about going out there and getting the job done.
ELI: The way you talk about your contract negotiations and how the most important thing is fairness, it seems you take a lot of pride in playing baseball, but more playing in
MIKE: I started playing when I was five and a couple years later I got the opportunity to pitch when I was seven. I can remember playing catch with my dad and he would be my catcher. And I remember going out there for the first time after convincing my coach that I wanted to pitch and I threw strikes and did well and from that point on I think I fell in love with pitching. I've been able to succeed at each level and have made adjustments when I needed to and had a lot of fun doing it.
ELI: Now I head you are starting a blog yourself, can you tell me about that?
MIKE: Yes. I am working on setting up a website that will be marothbaseball.com and will be going live in the next day or so and I will be starting a blog just trying to connect with fans as much as I can. The fans are the reason we play the game and I can remember growing up and I remember being a fan when I was younger and I think it is a great way for fans to really connect with the players.
ELI: Who was your favorite team growing up?
MIKE: It was the Braves. I was a big Dale Murphy fan. Growing up in Florida that was the team we got to see the most of. So I got to watch pretty much all the games-
ELI: What is it like seeing these guys like Tom Glavine, Smoltz, and Maddux still playing in the league today?
MIKE: Just shows how good they were. You heard so much about them in the early nineties and even today but that is what they were built around-that pitching staff. Obviously those guys are still around today, pitching and finishing off their careers, some unbelievable careers.
ELI: I always hear 'the number one starter, the number two starter.' Are there any advantage to where the pitcher is in the rotation?
MIKE: Not at all. You start the year going number one starter all the way down to number five and that is just the way they get the year going. You just stay in that rotation so everyone pitches every fifth day, and quite frankly, with rain outs and off days, the number one starter won't go up against the number one starter of another team. Usually they lineup different ways. You know I've pitched a few times against Santana. Yeah so it doesn't line up any certain way when the season starts . The numbers don't line up you just pitch when it is your turn.
ELI: Last year after surgery, you had a long road back to the majors, what were the first steps in your rehab following surgery?
MIKE: Well the first thing is to get the swelling down, give it some time to heal. Three weeks after the surgery I was able to start playing catch and that is when I was able to start the road back, baseball wise, and progress from there. Several months later, I was in a rehab game with our Triple-A Affiliate Toldeo and made four outs there. You know everything progressed well all the way to the very end. But I had some setbacks and it didn't work out like I thought it was going to work out. But I was able to make it back and was able to throw a couple of innings out of the bullpen at the end of the year last year.
ELI: I’ve heard about some pretty funny guys around the league, Tim Hudson, Ryan Dempster to name a few. Who would you say is the funniest guy in the clubhouse?
MIKE: We got a few of them. As far as being a joker, probably Vance Wilson or Brandon Inge. Those two hang out together and kind of come up with jokes and stuff. I think everyone has there own jokes. Todd Jones is a pretty funny guy. He isn't so much of a joker, he just keeps things light.
ELI: You've been on the Tigers for awhile, what is the best prank you've seen or been apart of?
MIKE: Best prank. There is a few that I probably couldn't say on the air. [Laughs] Probably X-rated. [laughs] Something you probably wouldn't want to share with people.
ELI: I'll take your word for it. It seemed in Jim Leyland’s first year with the team he had the immediate respect of the team. Other than being a manager with a lot of experience, what did he do to earn the teams respect before you guys even came into spring training?
MIKE: He instantly earned our respect just because what he has been able to accomplish on his own as a manager. But he was able to show quickly what he wanted and what he expected out of his players. All he wanted from us was to play hard and play nine innings and it wasn't about winning or losing. It was about just playing the game right and hard. We learned pretty quick that that was what he expected out of us and he wasn't going to take anything less. And as the year progressed last year and he showed how much he cared about us, in turn, it made us care for him and it really makes you want to play for a guy that cares about you.
ELI: How were you feeling in your last game versus
MIKE: I felt great. I had good stuff for awhile and all of a sudden I got to the sixth inning with two outs and an 0-2 count on Jhonny Peralta, and from that point on I went on two give up two two run homeruns after that. So I just need to find a way to better execute my pitches and eliminate the damage like that. Like I said, I had great stuff in that start and feel the performance should have been a little better.
ELI: Roger Clemens is attempting to make another comeback with the Yankees in yet another partial season. I mentioned on my site that this could start a ripple effect on older players who can’t handle a full season anymore, what’s your opinion on the whole thing?
MIKE: Well I think the reason your seeing a lot of 40+ pitchers is just because of pitch counts because I think managers and teams take pride in taking care of their pitchers and that is why I think you are seeing the longevity of their careers. But they are still able to get it done if you see the guys that are 40+, they are still effective.
ELI: And it is amazing because the guys that are 40+, Maddux, Smoltz, Moyer, their wind ups are so basic. And they get so much power on the way down.
MIKE: Yeah. Well that is where it all starts. And they have to know how to take care of themselves. I am sure there work ethic is very high. But they can pitch and there is a point in your career when your body can't take it anymore and that is when people make the decision to retire. And it is different for everybody.
ELI: Do you think that player loyalty to their team is being overshadowed by the increasing amount of money being thrown around in free agency these days?
MIKE: No. I think that a player takes pride in the team and the uniform he wears, even if it changes. You know you got a job to do. Whatever team or jersey he puts on, that comes first.
ELI: What do you like to do before you pitch? Listen to music, review game notes?
MIKE: Everyone has got their own routine, it is all about routines. I have the same routine each time I start as far as what I eat and what time. I usually have a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich about two hours before the game and start stretching about an hour and twenty minutes before the game. It's funny, whenever I start I always find myself looking at the clock to see when it is time to start my next routine.
ELI: It was obvious that the Tigers goal coming into Spring Training was to make it back to the Series, is that something the team talks about often?
MIKE: Not really. That is our goal, it is every year so we try not to dwell on it. Like I said, it is early in the year you just try to take it one game at a time. I know it is cliche but that is really how you have to focus on it because each day is different. You try and win as many games as you can. Like I said, as you get closer to the end of the year you kind of get to see where you are at and what you need to do and at that point that is when you start thinking about that stuff. But right now, there is not too much talk about it but in the backs of our mind that is our goal and that is all we are shooting for.