04/01/2004 9:17 PM ET
Wells: It'll be nice to get home
Pitcher anxious to take the mound on Opening Day
|Kip Wells admits to having difficulty with Russell Branyan and Scott Posednik. (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
Since coming over to the Pirates in a trade from the Chicago White Sox prior to the 2002 season, Kip
Wells has established himself as one of the top young hurlers in the National League. For the third
consecutive spring, Kip has agreed to post his Spring Training diary on MLB.com.
My last outing against Boston was kind of like my other starts this spring. I have had some stretches of
good sequences, and overall, I've felt like I've made improvements during every one of my starts in getting
prepared for the beginning of the season.
Going against the Red Sox, they are a good offensive lineup that will give you a test for how you are
throwing. They don't make a lot of mistakes when you leave pitches over the plate. They will put you in
your place at times. That's a good test for me as opposed to throwing Pirates City games like Josh Fogg
gets to do on a regular basis. It's tough to tell how you are pitching in those games when sinkers in the
middle of the plate get taken instead of whacked off the wall.
I think we are all about ready to get out of here. We've been in camp for about seven weeks now and it will
be nice to get back to Pittsburgh. It will be nice to get back home and give our home fans the chance to see
what kind of improvements we've made over the offseason. Hopefully, we can go out and give them a
good show and continue to give them a good show from now until September.
Sean Burnett has been on me all spring, sometimes deservedly so because my performance has been less
than spectacular. But we are all pulling for Burnett to make the team so that we can crush him for the rest
of the year. He'll be carrying all of the drinks to the bus and carrying a purse out to the bullpen with
candies and goods in it. We are all pulling for him. It's been a tough camp for him giving up that one run
This week's fan submissions:
Does watching the left-right action of your golf shots aid in the movement of your pitches? -- Jared
Visker, La Crosse, WI
There is not a lot in common between my golf game and my pitching. My sinker goes at least 60 feet and
my driver doesn't. That's the biggest difference.
I definitely have a power fade. Just like with baseball, the harder I swing, the more I think I am going to get
out of it. About 95 percent of the time it doesn't happen. But those five times that I hit it 320 yards and down
the middle keep me coming back.
The Phillies lineup last season didn't give you much of a hard time. Do you approach this lineup exactly
the same way as last year? -- Steve Heckman, Pittsburgh, Pa.
I don't think I do much differently against the Phillies on Opening Day than I have before. I think the
experience that I've had in the past will prepare me for situations like this -- not that you are ever really
prepared for the first time you go out there on Opening Day.
For me, I just need to continue to try to stay relaxed and stay within myself and not overexert myself and
take myself out of a situation where I can throw as many strikes as possible. Hopefully, I can maximize my
pitch count because it is already going to be somewhat limited because of the fact that it is Opening Day
and we haven't really gotten totally stretched out yet. The more pitches I can save early, the more I can
utilize them later.
What batter has given you the most trouble over your career? -- Rick Martin
There are a lot of them. There are always the guys who are on the cover of video games and the posters on
kids walls -- guys like Albert Pujols and Rafael Palmiero -- who own me. But they pretty much own
everybody else, too.
And then there are other guys who maybe aren't All-Stars but they seem like it against me. Russell Branyan
has lined up a few of my pitches and hit them into the night. Juan Encarnacion can take a good pitch and hit
it into the gap against you. Scott Posednik is an All-Star in my book. Brian Peacock from Manatee
Community College took me deep this spring, so he's a tough out.
It's been a pleasure of mine to be able to write this for fans and give you some insight into what goes on
around here on a daily basis. Thanks for taking the time to read this column. We'll see you out at PNC
Kip Wells diary appears as told to Ed Eagle, a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.