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10/25/08 5:35 PM ET

A pregame interview with Andy Sonnanstine

Rays Game 4 starter talks about facing the Phillies

How many people along the way have told you or doubted that you'd be able to win up here, not throwing 95 miles an hour? And how have you sort of dealt with that over the years?

ANDY SONNANSTINE: Quite a few. I've had quite a few naysayers through my career, when I was in high school, college, minor leagues or Major Leagues. So I kind of take that as a chip on my shoulder and I feel like I have something to prove at every level, and I think that's helped me have success.

I don't know if you heard what Joe said, but he felt with a little bit of rest at the All Star break, right now your velocity as picked up. Have you noticed that and how has that affected your other pitches?

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ANDY SONNANSTINE: A little bit. It's nothing drastic, just maybe one or two miles an hour. And I think that gives me a little bit more of a gap in between my fastball and my off speed pitches, which is a good thing for me, just being deceptive and having that extra one or two mile an hour on my fastball really helps out.

And I think that has a little bit to do with just pitching in the postseason. I'm sure that the adrenaline has something to do with it. So I think it's been working in my favor.

Every time Joe Maddon discusses you, he says, "Andy is a winner." What does being a winner mean to you? And what does that kind of support from the manager mean to you?

ANDY SONNANSTINE: Well, the support is huge. Having confidence in myself is very important and having the confidence from my very intelligent manager is essential. I think one of the things that helps me win is working quick. I hate to lose. I love to win. I try to do all the little things that give me a little bit of an edge, whether it's pausing in my delivery, messing up the tempo, working quick, fielding my position. And one of the things that I was talking with Peña about was our time of possession when I'm pitching. That's not a big stat for baseball, but it's something that I like to get out there, take care of business and get my fielders back in the dugout so they can start hitting again.

So I think that's one of the things that really helps the whole team out and that gets us going offensively, as well.

You guys were letting them fly in batting practice, I was just wondering if you expect or anticipate any superb hitting abilities in this ballpark?

ANDY SONNANSTINE: Me, personally, I'm not really a superb hitter. We were having quite a bit of fun, we were hitting yesterday. That was pretty awesome. I think Kazmir and Price and I all hit a home run back to back to back, which was probably the funnest BP I've ever been in. That was kind of the later rounds. And we had already done our fundamental hitting. I think in the earlier couple of rounds we were working opposite, you know, hard hit balls to the opposite field.

But I'm just a contact guy. I really enjoy hitting. I take pride in my hitting, but there's tons of guys in that clubhouse that are a much better hitter than I am.

Is there any specific instances of not getting advanced through the system because of velocity or not getting recruited or getting left off of a team anywhere that you kind of look back on now?

ANDY SONNANSTINE: Not really. I've just tried to do as best as I physically could as fast as I could. And there's been a lot of things that have just kind of fell into place for me. I remember talking to my parents in the off season and they just keep telling me, wow, things just keep going your way. And that's just kind of how it's been. And I'm very thankful for that. I've been trying to do as best as I can, and I've had a lot of breaks along the way, too.

Talk about being the fourth starter in a playoff rotation, where you're never on your fifth day, how you deal with that. And also not putting too much emphasis on the start, knowing you're only all going to get one in the series?

ANDY SONNANSTINE: I think the time in between helps me out. This is one of the longest seasons I've ever been a part of. I showed up about a month early for Spring Training to get my body ready and my arm ready, and I didn't know we'd be playing this late in October. So I think the extra days in between my starts actually help. I've never thrown this many innings before. I'm just going out there and trying to help our team win and that one day I get to throw in the Series.

How did you get so good at hitting?

ANDY SONNANSTINE: Practice. I didn't get to hit too much in college and really didn't hit until last year a couple of weeks before we went to Miami. I went up to Hendu, our hitting instructor, and asked for a couple of pointers, and kind of hung around the cage, even though I kind of felt unwelcome. It's kind of a touchy situation, you don't want to take away from a hitter's time in the cage. But I would go in there by myself, work on the tee and just put some hours in. I really didn't want to be embarrassed at home plate. And the very first pitch I saw in the Major Leagues I hit for a base knock. So ever since then in my mind I knew it could be done. So that makes hitting off the tee worth it and was actually fun for me.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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