Q&A with Josh Fogg

Major League Baseball is winding down its spring training, with the regular season set to begin in just a couple of weeks. Recently I caught-up with former Florida Gator Pitcher <B>Josh Fogg</B>, as enters his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who play their spring training games at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida.

On spring training: "We were looking forward to these games getting started. And, now, we're looking forward to getting the 'official' games started. During spring training, everybody's competing, it doesn't matter who it is or where you are. If you don't perform, you're not going to make the team. That's the way it is. And, that's the way it should be. The competition (within the team) is a great motivator."

On having spring training close to his home in Riverview, Florida: "I commute back-and-forth to my house everyday (from Riverview to Bradenton). It's a great extra month-and-a-half to live at home."

On off-season work-outs: "It's huge to get yourself prepared and get in shape (as teammate Kip Wells, who couldn't help but overhear the interview from the locker next to Fogg's, chuckled, in reaction to Fogg's off-season work-outs). Some of us work harder than others. Kip doesn't do a whole lot in the off-season (laughter). To come into spring and be able to perform at the highest level, it's important to have a good off-season work-out."

On his position in the starting pitching rotation: "I have no idea which spot. We're guessing Kip's going to be number one. But, after that, we're not really sure who else is going to follow him. That's up to the coaches and manager. As long as I'm in '1-through-5', it doesn't matter which one it is."

On the Pirates always being labeled under dogs: "That's all what you guys (the media) write. We come into spring training every year, and, everybody has got an 0-0 record. We don't think about who's supposed to win, and who's supposed to do what (team-wise). We're going to go out there and play hard. If we go out there and play the best we can, we're going to win our fair share of games. We have just as good of players over here that the other teams do. So, we're not really worried about what everybody's writing."

On the pros compared to college: "The games are completely different.the level play. When you get up here, there are no easy outs in the line-up. There are no weak hitters. Its pretty much that everybody's playing at the highest level. There are no guys you can just go up there and relax on. In college, there were probably two or three hitters in the line-up you had to worry about. Once you got by those guys, you just go after the rest of the guys. Up here, the game's a lot faster, a lot more intense, and, the players are just better. "

On his toughest out to get: "There are a few of them. I'd say the best hitter in baseball now is Albert Pujols (of the St. Louis Cardinals). The last three years that he's put together, have been amazing. He's one of those guys that you may fool once, but, you're probably not going to fool him twice. You have got to make really good pitches to him, keep the ball down, and, hope that he gets himself out occasionally."

On his strongest asset: "I'm more of a 'location' pitcher. I throw all four pitches for strikes pretty much any time I want.I try to be able to keep hitters off-balance. I'm more of a 'trick'em' guy. I try to get them to pop-up or ground out early in the count. I try to keep my pitch count down, and, stay out there as long as I can."

On the Pirates as a team in general: "We have got a great young team.a lot of young players who are real enthusiastic. They can go out there and play hard every time out. We're improving every year. That's what our goal is. Eventually, we're going to get to the point where we find the right group of twenty-five guys that can go out there and put together a 90-95-100-win season. I think that's coming up in the near future. If we have a couple of guys who have career years this year, then we have chance to do it this year. If not, we're getting better every year.and, that's the most important thing."

On the Florida Gator Baseball Program: "It was great (to play at UF). I loved it there. When I was there Coach Andy Lopez was there. He did a great job. We went to the College World Series two-out-of-three years that I was there. I've heard nothing but good things about Coach Pat McMahon. He's one of those guys everybody wants to play for. He's done a great job at Florida. And, I'd like to see them back in the CWS."

Pirates All-Star Catcher Jason Kendall: "Josh has progressed a lot. He's one of those guys that have command of all four pitches, and, can throw strikes at any given time. I expect good things out of him this year. I think the whole experience thing will help him take it to another level. I think he has the ability to do that."

Pirates Manager Lloyd McClendon: "Josh is an important component for us. He'll probably fit in the third slot for us (in the starting rotation). We need him to pitch well. We need him to give us innings. He's a strike-thrower. He's won in double-digits in the past two years. We look forward for him to increase that win total, and, continue to improve."

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