Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fightins Quotables: Nola, Lundquist, Altherr, Moore

AaronNola-TugHaines
Aaron Altherr, image- Tug Haines
Top Phillies draft pick Aaron Nola tossed a gem of an outing in Trenton on Friday night, in what will be the final appearance of his first pro season. Over five innings, the 21-year-old allowed just four hits and surrendered no runs while striking out two and walking none. He notched the win, as the Reading Fightins downed the Thunder by a score of 3-0.

In 12 professional outings, since he was selected 7th overall in this year's MLB amateur draft, Nola tallied a 4-3 record with a 2.93 ERA while striking out 45 and walking 10 in 55 1/3 innings combined between Double-A Reading and Class A Advanced Clearwater.

After the game, I spoke with Reading pitching coach Dave Lundquist and Nola himself about the outing and more. I also spent time chatting with Nola's backstop Logan Moore about his season as well as his pitching staff. Additionally, I chatted with outfielder Aaron Altherr about his time with the big league club this year. Read ahead for loads of exclusive quotes...

-Dave Lundquist on Nola's effort on Friday night...

It was outstanding. You know, five innings, with no runs, 62 total pitches. You know, the thing that was really impressive was, in the fifth, he had (runners on) 2nd and 3rd with nobody out and got a pop up in the infield, a strike out and a ground ball and really showed a good feel for pitching and working himself out of a jam. He did a nice job.

-Asked Lundquist if there's any temptation to let Nola go beyond his innings limit when his pitch count is low...

No, not right now. Not this year. Not with where he's at. Total wise, through college and here, no. We just want him to get to that one point and that's it. His pitch count was really low and he definitely could have continued going and it's good to know he could have continued going, but at this point in the year, no that's it.

-Also asked Lundquist for his thoughts about righty reliever Colton Murray, who notched his fifth save of the season for Reading in their win over Trenton on Friday...

Power guy that goes right after people. One thing he's done is he's really improved his curve ball as a pitch he can throw in and out of the zone. It's become a quality swing and miss pitch for him. Very aggressive and he goes right after people. It's what you look for in a reliever.

-Nola shared his thoughts on his outing...

Yeah, I felt well tonight. I thought I did good. I left some balls over the plate for them to hit and they got a couple doubles and they scattered a couple singles. Other than that, my arm felt good, my body felt good and my tempo was good and I was pounding the strike zone. You know, they were swinging and I was getting early outs.

-I asked Nola if he noticed the considerable concentration of Phillies fans in attendance on the road in Trenton...

I kind of zone it out, but it felt like there was a good crowd there tonight and a good bit of Phillies fans, but, you know, at the end of the day, I zone all of it out, man, I just focus on me and the glove and the team.

-Nola on if he gets the itch to go past five innings, even when the coaches won't allow him to...

Well, absolutely. I think everybody will have that itch. They told me right when I got down to Florida that I was going to be on a five inning limit, 70 to 80 pitches and I was okay with that. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do. I've agreed with everything they've told me to do. And now the season is probably over for me, throwing wise.

-Altherr talked about his time with the major league club this year and how it could help him...

It was great to experience it and see how they go about their business and try to emulate that and do it for my game and I know it's going to help me in the long run. I was real excited. Hopefully, I can get back up there.

-Altherr speaking on if he'd have any level of disappointment if he wasn't called back up to the Phillies when the rosters expand in September...

Not really. Not at all. I mean, just, it gives me more time to prepare for next year and make sure I come out strong in spring training and whatever happens, where ever I start out next year, just go out in spring training and have a great spring.

-Altherr describing his call up to the big leagues, joining the Phils in Atlanta on short notice...

It was a whirlwind kind of day. I got a call about one in the afternoon, telling me I had to get on a flight and I left a couple hours later. We were in Reading, had an off day, and I got the call from (manager Dusty Wathan) and I had a car service pick me up about three o'clock and the flight was delayed till about 7:15 and I didn't land till about quarter after ten probably. I got there about the top of the 9th inning and I was calling the clubhouse guy asking him, "Should I go to the game, or should I go straight to the hotel?" It was a close game, so he wanted me to stay on the line and he'd keep me posted in case they went to extra innings, so he told me to hurry up and get down to the ballpark and I showed up in the tenth inning. I walked right in, in the middle of the game, introduced myself to everybody. Bottom of the tenth, I'm in the cage, warming up, getting loose. Then, in the top of the 12th, I got my first at bat.

-Asked Altherr if he was able to enjoy his first call up, or if the pressure and the rush of it made it too hectic to do so...

I enjoyed what I could. Just, all the players knew I was nervous. They saw me pacing back and forth. They saw I was getting my at bat and they talked me through it, just giving me advice and they told me to stay relaxed and it's the same game. It was fun.

-Logan Moore on his feelings about his season thus far...

Pretty so-so for me. Obviously, I'd like to have better numbers and stuff, but putting that stuff aside, I think I've gained a lot of information and ultimately, I learned a lot of things and that's what it's all about right now is just development, I think. For that standpoint, I've learned a lot, so overall, not too bad.

-Asked Moore if his reputation for being a strong defender with a bat that isn't as strong is something he hears about...

Yeah, I hear that a little but, but right now, my main focus is catching the best I can and I mean the better you are defensively, the less you have to worry about offensively, so I try and make that number one and I've had some success catching wise, so I am going to try and build on that. Also, the hitting too, it's gonna come. It's just a matter of time. I'm still learning a lot, but for now I'm just trying to catch as good as I can.

-Moore on if there are any pitchers he has caught this year that stand out as being more advanced than the others...

I like catching Adam Loewen a lot, because he's been there before. He's been in the big leagues. So, he's always has a clue of what he wants to throw and all that, so we're kind of always on the same page. He makes it pretty easy for me as far as game calling. He's always in the zone, for the most part, and he's one of the guys I have a lot of fun catching.

And, obviously, some of the younger guys like Severino Gonzalez and Aaron Nola and those guys, they have real good stuff and they're just learning on making pitches and things like that. We got a pretty good staff overall. I like catching all of them. But, I'd say Loewen may be the one that really jumps out at me as far as knowing the game and pitching.

-Asked Moore what it is about Gonzalez and Nola make them different from other hurlers...

They just go out there and compete every day. They command their fastball real good and for the most part they keep it down. They're not walking a ton of guys. They're just in the zone and pitching and working their butt off to be the next guy and they go right after people and it's fun to be on the other end of that, 'cause they don't shy down. They're just, "Here it is. Come hit it." And it's fun and it keeps the game going.

-Moore shares thoughts on Gonzalez's fastball movement...

He's got movement, it's just the other way. It's not a sinker, he's got a natural cut to it, which helps him out against righties and lefties, actually. His fastball's running away from righties a lot and running into lefties, so he's able to get the ball inside to lefties and away from righties pretty good. So, it's not every straight, so there's always some movement. It's just not sink movement, it's the other way. It works. It's something you don't see a whole lot, but it works. It's pretty good.

-Moore talking about Nola's repertoire...

He's got a little arm side run and then he's got a two-seam that bites his arm side really late, so he's got a lot of action late on his fastball and then he's got good off-speed. A good change up, a good curveball, slider, whatever you want to call it. And he throws them all for strikes, which is gonna be tough to hit if he's got all three working.

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