Photo by Jayne Hansen
WTH: How would you compare this Spring Training with Spring Training a year ago?
MF: We didn't have that many trade guys coming in and that much competition really last year. It was more laid back, just trying to go in and to get your work done. We kind of knew our positions already half way in Spring Training. This year, I got called in and [was told], 'You'll compete with eight guys to go to a team.' And that's way different from last year. It's a lot more competition this year. We've got more guys that came in from trades and the new draft guys and older guys trickling down from [major league camp] and it's a whole different level. It's friendly competition basically, but it's a little more competitive than last year. You can kind of feel it in the air when you're out there practicing. Guys are really trying to compete for the club out there.
WTH: How would you characterize the general atmosphere and the coaching as compared to a year ago?
MF: Last year it was a lot more laid back I guess you could say, and this year they're really pushing us and really getting on us. They want to compete and they want to win also, just like us. They're out there every day giving it their all just like us. It's a pretty big difference. Mr. Luhnow did a good job bringing in a lot of new guys that are pretty good and know what they're doing so it's really exciting this year. Last year was just kind of going through the motions and this year it's pretty intense, pretty exciting.
WTH: What do you feel you've accomplished so far this spring?
MF: I think I've accomplished a lot. I've proved myself. I think the number one question was, 'Was last year a fluke or could he do it again, have a good year wherever he's at.' I think I've proved a lot. I even got a big league inning a couple weeks ago and I've done pretty good. I think I've thrown about seven innings in Spring Training so far and I've only given up two hits and one walk and some of those were against major league batters and AAA guys.
My fastball command has been a lot better than in previous years and my curveball's coming along great and my change up is coming along outstanding. I think I've basically started where I left off last year and brought it into Spring Training, more confident and doing a little bit more to try to earn a spot in Corpus because, like I said, they told me when I came in that there would be eight or nine fighting for a spot in Corpus. 'You've got to go out there and show us that's where you want to be,' and I think I've gone out there and done that for sure.
Good Luck, Mike! I hope to check in with you again in a few weeks.