10/04/06 4:14 PM ET
Adam Wainwright off-day interview
Padres reliever discusses move from Minors, becoming a reliever
By / MLB.com
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I think it's been awesome. I mean, having some young guys down there that we can always talk to and shoot the breeze with. But also having the older guys there, you know, for tutelage, and just for learning purposes, it goes both ways. We have a lot of fun together down there and we enjoy being together.
This goes along with that a little bit, but has it hit it yet that you're the closer for one of the last eight teams standing in that every single game is do or die?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: No, I don't think it has. I've never been in that role before. I've never been in the bullpen before this year. And this whole year has just been a huge blessing to me.
I never thought I'd be put in this situation, and I didn't even know if I was going to be on the team going into Spring Training. To be in this situation now is just unbelievable and I'm just so lucky to be here.
Was there a conversation to be had at some point between you and Braden (Looper) either when Izzy (Isringhausen) first went down or when Tony basically said you're the guy, at some point was there a conversation given his history, given coming into the year, he was the guy that was presumed to be the ninth inning guy if something happened?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Well, Braden, the more I get to know Braden, the more I realize what a good guy he is. Since the beginning of the year he's told me that I have the stuff to be a closer.
So when it comes down to it, they may call on me.
At the same time I know that he signed here because he wanted to win. He wanted to be part of a winning club. He could have closed for other teams, but he wanted to come here and win and set up for Izzy. If something happened to Izzy, he was looking to be that guy. He pitched well this year, and I think the great thing about Braden, he's never rooting against anybody. He's never rooted against me, I know that.
He's only congratulative and he gives me so many words of advice and, I don't know. It's great to have a guy like that. Almost like a big brother down there in the bullpen that helps you with everything.
Getting back to Spring Training, what were you thinking going to Spring Training? What did you hope to accomplish coming out?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I wanted to make the team. I made it very clear that I did not want to go back to the Minor Leagues and whatever role that may be. I told them I would be the bat boy or whatever it took.
I've been in the Minor Leagues for five and a half years and just said, you know what, enough is enough. This year I finally believed that I could go to the big leagues and do well.
I got called up late in the year last year and I got to see everybody play, and pitch and hit and everything. And I realized, you know, if I'm playing like I should, I can play up here.
And that was just kind of an awakening for me, and this off season, I drilled it in my mind. It took me a couple of weeks and I drilled it in my mind. Every pitch I threw in the bullpen sessions and believed every pitch I threw would be the right pitch, the good pitch, and it was going to have good stuff behind it.
And every other year I always said that I was good but I didn't really believe it. Now I believe it so it went a long way for me.
Besides Braden, who else has helped you transition into the bullpen, in the closer's role?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Izzy helped me a lot, too. He's the one that kind of sat me down right before I started closing at the end of the year there, kind of sat me down and just told me to make sure I'm breathing and don't go out there and just, you know, be floating around. Have a purpose and step back if I feel a little amped up, step back off the mound and get back control of myself because he said, you know, when you have the ball, everybody's working on your pace. Don't try to, you know, go on their pace. You determine the speed of the game.
So I thought that was really good advice. And a couple games I closed at the end of the year, I really just tried to, you know, use that advice, step back off the mound, get my composure and get back on the mound and do it.
Coming into this series, a lot was written about the Padres' bullpen being such a strength and maybe your guys' bullpen being a weakness. Do you guys pay attention to that at all and is that a motivation to prove that you guys can get the job done out there?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Well, I mean, any of that's a motivation. Maybe we do have to prove it. I don't feel we have to prove anything. We're one of the last eight teams standing here. No matter how we got in, it's almost like a new season now.
Everybody starts with a clean slate. So we feel like we have a good chance to go a long ways in this thing and we have a great team, top to bottom. Tons of talent down in our bullpen. So we know it's just about throwing good, using our talents well.
Your first year in the bullpen, was the transition going from starter to reliever tougher mentally for you or physically for you?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I don't know. Definitely not mentally. I think maybe, you know, I think the coaches did a really good job on the physical part of it. Kind of easing me into it, not pitching me too much right away.
I would pitch here and there and then, you know, they wouldn't overuse me is basically what I'm trying to say. They eased me into it.
But mentally-wise, I take the same approach. I just try to go right after people and attack hitters. And I've taken that approach to every inning I've pitched since Spring Training, because I didn't know I was going to make the team. I had to go after each hitter in Spring Training like it was the World Series, and I'm using that same approach now.
So mentally it's the same. Physically I think, because of the coaches easing me into it, it was easier for me to make that transition.
And has the team responded and told you that they have confidence in you? Has that happened in the last couple of weeks? Have you sensed it?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Well, I think, you know, in the spots I'm pitching, nobody said anything to me, but I think in the spots I'm pitching that that shows that they have confidence in me.
I would hope they have confidence in me. I've pitched as hard as I can pitch all year. Every time out I've tried to be the best I can.
So you know, I would hope that they trust me now.
Adam, I apologize if you've already answered this question. I came in a little bit late. You guys were under a lot of heat, criticism, whatever you want to say how you finished the season. The bullpen itself took the brunt of that criticism. Did you guys pay any attention to any of that at all or did you just figure, you know what, once we right the ship and start pitching the way we know we can, we'll be fine?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: You know, we didn't put a whole lot of pressure on ourselves for that. I mean, I think the turning point in our bullpen was when our starters started pitching really well. You know, when your starters aren't pitching great, it puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the team in the bullpen to come in earlier in games you get tired out or whatever.
But our starters really stepped it up and made it easier on our bullpen guys and our bullpen guys reacted and start pitching better. We do have a young bullpen but we also have an extremely talented bullpen. So everything just fell into place.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.