A few weeks ago, the Bowie Baysox visited Richmond and I was able to catch up with the baysox hottest pitcher, Steve Johnson. Steve was supposed to start that Sunday, but when I arrived at the stadium, I found out that he was promoted to Norfolk. Here is the Q&A.
What was the biggest difference between last year and this year?
Last year I really struggled with my control. My mechanics were a little out whack. They had been getting that way throughout the last two years. I wasn’t comfortable, so I took the offseason look into it. Me and my dad looked at what I used to do. He hadn’t been able to see me pitch a lot so when he saw me pitch once last year, he realized that my mechanics weren’t what I used to do. So we really went down and figured out what was wrong. Shortened my arm angle a little bit, got the arm not dragging behind my back much and we worked really hard to get that to feel comfortable. I’ve been able to be more consistent with my delivery and been able to throw more strikes. I’ve always been a fly ball pitcher and have given up some home runs, but last year I was giving up walks and then home runs. It just made my outings bad. I was only able to go five because was walking four guys. Really it’s been about cutting down the walks, throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys, just really cut down my pitches and I am able to go longer in the game.
What when on in Norfolk earlier in the season AND are you ready to go back?
Beginning of spring training this year, with my new delivery, I wasn’t quite there yet. Everything felt comfortable, but the feel of my release point wasn’t there yet. Even in my first start here and my two starts in Norfolk, I wasn’t quite there. I didn’t have the feel to throw strikes, so I was just missing out of the zone, and I don’t think I was ready… just mechanics wise, that’s what happened, I went up there and threw a lot of balls and getting behind a lot of guys. It was frustrating because I knew I could do better. Against better competition, you can’t do that. Once I got down here, everything clicked. My mechanics were good, my release point was there and I was able to get into a nice little groove and I’m hoping at any point I can get called back up there (Editors Note- He was called up the next day).
What is the balance of getting help from your dad and working with your pitching coaches?
It’s always a tough thing. He doesn’t want to overstep his boundaries. I’ve been in the minors, this is my 7th year now, I have been with a bunch of different pitching coaches, and they’ve all given their input. I definitely listen to what they have to say and you never know when you can get something new, someone sees something different and help you out, but I try to stay with my core mechanics and try not to stray away from that and I end up doing that anyway. So when I have my dad, and he has always seen me pitch, he’s the one who taught me everything I know how to do, for him to see my delivery and know something was wrong. It was big. Not a lot of guys have that. It’s been nice to have him there work things through, he understands what I do right and what I do well and we just try to find the best thing for me to do.
What was being in the Dodgers organization like?
I loved the Dodgers giving me a chance in professional baseball. They drafted me in the 13th round. I had a blast with them. All of their minor league teams are throughout the country, Utah, Michagan, California, florida, Tennessee, I got to travel a lot and the Dodgers were a great organization. I loved playing there. I still have a lot of friends there. I do still keep in contact with a lot of guys
What was spring training with the Giants like?
The Giants organization was different because that was a big league camp and I had a chance to make the team. It was cool to see that a major league team think that that I was possibly ready to make their team last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t make. I was able to hang out with Lincicum and Zito and all those guys, Caine, and see what they do on a regular basis, see how they handle things, and go about their business. A really cool experience, it’s not something everyone gets to do. They went on to win the World Series and looking back and say “what if” but it was cool to be with them in Spring Training. I’m glad they gave me the ability to actually make the team.