Sunday, October 14, 2007
Yesterday morning, I had the chance to talk with Oakland A's pitcher Jerry Blevins. Blevins was all over the place this season having donned five different jersey's for two teams. He was a top pitching prospect for the Cubs, but traded him to acquire Jason Kendall, who definitely helped get them into the playoffs. But Billy Beane has an eye for talent, and probably sees Blevins in his bullpen for the next several years to come. I want to thank him and Adam Bierman of XTS Sports for setting up this interview for me, I really appreciate it.
ELI: You started off strong this season in the minors keeping your pitches down and getting solid downward movement on your pitches. What did you do in the off season to get off to that kind of start?
JERRY: We actually started the year before after I went back to short season. We went back to over the top from sidearm and we realized that I had bad mechanical things that were leaving the ball up. I was able to finish strong in the last two weeks and move into the off season to improve upon them. I played Winter Ball in Venezuela where I could work on it a lot more and improve on keeping the ball down and getting downward movement on it.
ELI: You were a walk on at Dayton, what were your main reasons for trying out?
JERRY: Well I love playing and wanted to continue playing if I could. I went to a small high school in Northwest Ohio called Arcadia, where we only graduated thirty-four kids, so there wasn't much exposure. I actually went to Dayton on an academic scholarship and my love for baseball is the reason I went out.
ELI: What was the tryout like?
JERRY: It was really basic. I think I threw like four pitches and they liked what they saw so they asked me to stay with the team.
ELI: Was it hard making the switch from side arm to over the top?
JERRY: It was actually harder throwing sidearm. When I made the switch back I had like an epiphany. It was a renewal of love for pitching and I just wanted to enjoy it.
ELI: What would you say is your best pitch?
JERRY: My fastball.
ELI: You jumped around all season, what was it like to finally make it to the big leagues?
JERRY: It was everything I could have dreamed of and more. I think it was the fifth jersey and each time I was in a different place I would try and set goals for moving up to the next level. When I got called up to the A's, it was like cashing in on all my hard work-it was incredible and surreal.
ELI: Did you get a chance to talk with Billy Beane following the trade?
JERRY: No. I actually talked to David Forst, the special assistant, about the trade. He gave me the details and just told me how excited the organization was to have me. That gave me a lot of confidence and really motivated me to do well.
ELI: I'm sure you know about the A's and how they like to try out their youth in their minor league system, was that something you thought about after you were traded?
JERRY: Definitely. When you go from a big market team like the Cubs where they go and can spend big money on big name players, you do not see youth really coming up with the team. So when I was traded to the A's, where they do not have much funding and cannot go after big market players, you get to see a lot of young talent. Having read Moneyball, I was very excited about the transition.
ELI: Of the stadiums you've played at, do you have a favorite one?
JERRY: The Coliseum is great. The fans are great, it is like a family. Away from there, I really like Jacobs Field. It was a homecoming for me being able to pitch in front of my family-
ELI: Did you have any gnat invasions?
JERRY: [Laughs] No, I didn't have any Joba Chamberlain-like experiences.
ELI: What is the funniest mound visit conversation you have had?
JERRY: This is definitely the most memorable. Andrew Brown hit Vlad Guerrero on a 2-2 pitch and when I was called in, it was me, [Kurt] Suzuki, and Bob Geren on the mound when the ump walked out. He issued warnings which Geren didn't like and to be able to listen to the exchange they had back and forth was neat. You know the fans always see that they are arguing but never know what they are saying. So to be in there in the heat of it was memorable.
ELI: What was the team consensus: Kanye or 50 Cent?
JERRY: [Laughs] It was Kanye. We played his new album in the clubhouse and people were buzzing about it, so yeah, it was definitely Kanye.
ELI: You went 0-2 on David Murphy, what were you trying to do from there?
JERRY: The situation was good. I was trying to put him away and execute my pitch. You always try to stay consistent and to be at this level you definitely have to be. I threw him a curveball down and away and got him to swing at it. It was an incredible way to start off my career.
ELI: Would you say consistency and keeping a level head are the biggest things in making it to the next level?
JERRY: Oh yeah. The biggest difference in talent in A-ball is guys that can adjust and get better from there. I've seen guys down there that can throw 100 mph but cannot adjust or move on from a bad game.
ELI: What was it like pitching in back to back games, did you do anything different?
JERRY: It was our second game in Cleveland, and you get ready before every game just in case so it wasn't like I was not ready to pitch.
ELI: Did you try to adjust so hitters didn't have the advantage?
JERRY: No, you got to put the game behind you and not think about it. I watched some tape Thursday to see if I could pick up some hitters tendency's but other than that, you cannot do much.
ELI: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
JERRY: Yeah, I had quite a few. Ken Griffey Jr. was a big favorite of mine growing up in Ohio. Being a pitcher though, I liked Barry Zito and Randy Johnson a lot too. If I had to pick up hitter and one pitcher that enjoyed watching, it would be Griffey and Johnson.
ELI: Were you apart of the rookie hazing?
JERRY: Unfortunately, I had to wear a dress. We were on the road in Boston and had to leave the park, go to the airport, and go to the hotel in the dresses. And we stayed at a classy hotel and it just so happened that they were shooting a movie there with some big name actors. I got to meet Kate Hudson, and she was like the first celebrity I met from outside of baseball, and I was in a dress. [Laughs]
ELI: If you could pitch to one batter in the past, who would it be?
JERRY: Ted Williams. I just love everything he did, how he played, and acted.