This weekend I chatted with Reading manager Dusty Wathan about the recent output of star prospect Jesse Biddle as well as changes of roles for hurlers Austin Wright and Brody Colvin. Additionally, I spoke with Wright, the Phillies' 8th round draft selection out of the University of Mississippi in 2011, about his move to the bullpen after steadily being a starter throughout his pro career.
Full Q&A with both men lies ahead...
- Can you share some thoughts on Jesse Biddle's effort out there against the Trenton Thunder on Friday (Biddle allowed three earned runs in five innings, after allowing nine earned runs in two total innings in his previous two outings)?
I thought he did a lot better. I mean, I think the biggest thing was he went out there and struggled, obviously, throwing strikes the last two outings, but the biggest thing was we got him back into a routine and he got himself out of a jam in the 1st and, you know, he's still a guy that wants to be perfect and he's learning that he can't be perfect and he's not going to be perfect. You know, a couple pitches got him (in that game), but I thought he threw the ball well. The velocity was up. He threw some good breaking balls. Could have threw some more change ups, but all in all I thought it was a very positive outing.
- I know with Jesse, you kind of alluded to struggles the past two outings, are there any specific things that the coaching staff cited with him or noticed differences in him that would have resulted in the poor efforts?
I think him just trying to be too perfect. He's a guy that thinks perfection is attainable and hasn't quite realized that it's not. I think just trying to put the ball on the corner every time, I think he's realizing that he can throw the ball over the plate. With his stuff, he's good enough to get outs by throwing the ball to thirds of the plate or halves of the plate early in the count and that's just something he's going to have to learn or realize.
- There's lots of media attention and the park in Trenton has been packed for obvious reasons (Alex Rodriguez's rehab games). I was wondering if you think extra buzz or attention like this can have a good impact on players at this level.
Oh, absolutely. I think any time you get more people out to watch ball games and the more buzz you have in the crowd, it's better for these guys any time you can do that. We're lucky in the affiliates that we have to draw a lot of fans and we're very grateful for that and any time we come to Trenton, we seem to have a pretty good contingent. But with A-Rod being here, I think it's a great situation.
- We're talking about A-Rod out there on the opposing team. Do you take Jesse or the other guys aside before a game like that and provide any different advice, tips or pointers?
Nope, nothing different. He's the number two hitter, playing third base and that's really it.
- I want to get your thoughts on Austin Wright making the move to the bullpen. He gets his first relief outing here this weekend. Thoughts on the move itself and maybe what the future is for him, going forward?
The organization thinks that the quickest way to get Austin Wright to the major leagues right now out in the bullpen. He's got the mentality for it. He's got the stuff for it. So, right now, we move him to the bullpen. That's not saying that eventually he won't start one day in the major leagues, but I think that's the quickest way he can get there and the quickest way he can help the Phillies right now.
- Another player that has had that switch take place, twice this year, is Brody Colvin and he's gone back and forth. Any updates on him at all?
He's done an outstanding job out of the bullpen. I think we've got him to a point where he's thrown some long (relief) outings. He really wants to start. We feel that his fastball command was back where it needs to be, out of the bullpen. I think he was more relaxed, not as much anticipation on his start days or whatever and so, hopefully, moving him out to the bullpen and now moving him back to the rotation, hopefully, you know- we had a long talk, (pitching coach Dave Lundquist) and myself and Joe Jordan and Gorman Heimueller about, you know, having a good August. (Brody's) going to be in the rotation the rest of the year. Don't try to do too much, just go out there and be Brody Colvin. He did a great job when he was in the bullpen. He threw some long outings. Hopefully, we've taken some of that nervous energy on the day he starts away. And we kind of shocked him with telling him he's gonna start (again).
- You've made the move to the bullpen over the past week after starting all throughout your career till now. You had a 6.09 ERA in 16 starts this year with Reading and you were named the Class A Advanced Florida State League pitcher of the year last year (11-5 record, 3.47 ERA). What are your thoughts on this switch after some ups and downs in the previous role?
Yeah, I mean I'm pretty excited about it. We've talked about it in the past and you know, kind of with the Phillies going on up there, yeah, I'm really excited to come out of the 'pen now.
- I talked to your manager Dusty Wathan about it and his explanation is that the Phillies feel your quickest path to the majors is going to be as a reliever. Was that how it was presented to you? And is that what the excitement is all about?
I mean, yeah. I'm pretty excited for it. I've never been in the 'pen before, so I'm gonna try to get used to it as far as weight program, you know, kind of learn how to get ready in the 'pen and I'm real excited for it.
- You're positive about it, but it still looks a little odd to see you taking that walk out there. Does it feel odd to you to not be either starting, charting or in the dugout?
It's definitely a different role and I've got a lot of learning to do with the role and, like I said, I'm excited to take it on.
- You guys are out here facing Alex Rodriguez with the Thunder this weekend. I know he got the best of you out in Reading with a homer and on Friday, you throw the 6th inning, A-Rod comes out of the game after five innings. Is there a level of disappointment in not getting another crack at him?
No doubt, man. I wanted to face him again. He got me last time and I wanted to get him again.
- When it's packed and when there's this kind of media swarm and attention, does that get you personally, or the team, pumped up for what's to come?
Oh, yeah. Big crowds, there's always more adrenaline flowing and everything, but you try to just stay within yourself and, you know, keep it you and the catcher when you're out there.