Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Interview with Jason Chowning

RHP Jason Chowning was drafted in the 28th round in 2010 out of the University of Oklahoma.  He spent 2011 pitching out of the bullpen in Lexington.  In 58.2 innings pitched over 35 appearances, he was 4-4 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.261 WHIP and 9.2 SO/9.  Lefties only managed a 0.92 ERA against him.

When I first contacted Jason about doing an interview, one of the first questions I asked him was if he was really 6'2" 178 lbs. as listed because that made me want to feed him.  He assured me that he is actually 6'4" 190.  After that, we continued on to some questions that had a little more substance and some questions that didn't.

WTH:  The first question I'd like to ask is about the shoulder. You were diagnosed with a small tear in the labrum at the end of the season, but since it wasn't torn all the way through, surgery wasn't recommended. How is the shoulder now and what have you done in the off-season to keep it strong and healthy?

JC:  Towards the end of the season my shoulder started to experience pain which I hadn't ever felt before. I haven't ever really had too many arm issues so this one was a surprise and hurt. I did a lot of rehab this off-season and have started throwing bullpens. So far so good. It was a little rusty at first with some slight pain but doctors said it would be starting out. Hoping for a full recovery and hopefully this won't happen again.

WTH:  Your final appearance in August, you gave up 3 ER's and you'd only given up 3 ER's in the previous 9 appearances. Was the shoulder bothering you during that last appearance?

JC:   Funny you ask that, this was the dagger in my season. I had worked so hard to keep runs limited all year, and then this happened. After coming back the first time from my shoulder issue I was a little wild and unable to throw strikes. My first two outings back I was able to battle through. It was getting harder and harder to throw after each pitch. It felt like someone was stabbing my shoulder each time I threw. But this outing was my worst. I couldn't throw strikes and was getting behind in every count. Gave up to back to back broken bat singles only to get behind again 2-0 and happened to throw a fastball right down the middle to give up a 3-run home run. Needless to say I did not want my season and possible career to end on that note. But they advised me not to throw anymore for the rest of the year. Very disappointing.

WTH:  One Lexington writer described your slider as "wicked." I've also read that you throw a curveball, a fastball and a change-up. What is your best pitch? What kind of velocity do you have on your pitches? What will you be working on the most this season as far as your pitches?

JC:  I don't know if I would call my slider wicked. It's a pitch I just started throwing this year. I was messing around with pitches and this one kind of stuck. So it's still a work in progress. That being said, I do believe that my slider is my best pitch. I am most comfortable throwing it in any count behind or ahead. My velocity with my slider has been clocked up to 84 but varies in counts - 0-2 I throw it harder, other counts bigger break, less velo. Curveball would be my second best pitch with big 12-6 break, but it is my hardest pitch to control, good 0-2 pitch. My velocity with my curveball isn't near the speed I need it to be, varying from 72-76. Third best pitch would be my fastball. I do have some control issues, but hey who doesn't sometimes? Velo varies as well anywhere from 86-93, maybe on a good day or great day may top 94. Funny my last pitch in Lexington with my shoulder hurting was 94. That was probably from the anger and disappointment of prior events. Change-up is a work in progress. I don't think I threw it one time this year. No confidence just yet.

WTH: Have you ever thought, "Man, I'd like to have that pitch in my arsenal" about any other Astros minor league pitcher that you've played with? If so, who and what pitch?

JC:  Yes, I have. I think that Jake Buchanan has a tremendous two seam fastball that just runs off the table. And also I think that Alex Sogard has an absolute flithy change-up that I would also like to have in my arsenal.

WTH:  You're a bit of a self-described class clown. What teammate makes you laugh?

JC:  Ya, you know I like to laugh and I like to think that if I were to die today that I would have lived a happy life. Life is too short and we really need to enjoy the small things and laugh. There are a few guys that make me laugh. Adam Bailey and I seem to have a blast when we are around each other. We have the same personality so it makes it nice. So let's just say fingers crossed we are on the same team again. Also my boy Alex Sogard and I have plenty of laughs together as well. It's nice having people on the team which you can relate to and have a good time with.

WTH:  I understand that you were a sociology-criminology major. If you couldn't play baseball, what would you do?

JC:  If I couldn't play baseball I'd really like to get involved in the FBI. During this off-season I have applied to many FBI groups, but they say it takes years to get accepted so I started early and applied when I have my off time. I want to make a difference in people's lives and help protect communities.

WTH:  Are there any guys that you've played with in the last two seasons who you're particularly thankful to have on your team so that you won't have to pitch to them?

JC:  Throughout these past two seasons, I would have to say that there are two teammates I would rather not face and they are Adam Bailey who I did face in college and got him to pop out to second, and Chris Wallace, only because he caught me all the time and knows my pitches and in what counts I throw them. Both are very good hitters.

WTH:  Is is true that you were once ranked 14th in the world in Call of Duty? Have any of your teammates come close to beating you at COD?

JC:  Haha indeed I was at one time. I haven't been able to play much as of late. Been traveling and seeing 
family. Bryce Lane and I play a lot together. He's not bad. He's not as good as me, but he's getting there. I took him under my wing. Other than that no one comes close.

Thank you for your time, Jason, and best of luck in the 2012 season!

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