Middle Reliever Q&A

Middle relief pitchers have a tough role that is important for a team to be successful. Miami returns three middle relievers that are going to be counted on heavily this season. Alex Blanco, Chiqui Chirino, and Andrew Lane all threw solid innings last year for the Hurricanes and look to improve upon their numbers for the 2004 season.

2003 Statistics

RHP Alex Blanco (Junior) 0-0…4.42 ERA…18.1 IP…15 BB…15 SO
LHP Chiqui Chirino (Soph.) 2-0…5.31 ERA…20.1 IP…20 BB…20 SO
LHP Andrew Lane (Soph.) 2-1…4.50 ERA…18.0 IP…11 BB…10 SO

What did you do in the summer after last season?

Alex: This summer I went to Virginia to play for the Braves with Gaby Sanchez and Erick San Pedro for about a month and a half. It was a great experience. I got a lot of good innings in and met a lot of players from different teams.

Chiqui: This summer I stayed around here and finished some summer school classes. I worked out with trainers doing lifting, running, training, and I worked some of the summer camps.

Andrew: I played in the Virginia Valley League on a team by myself. I made some friends with a guy from Mississippi State and some guys from Oklahoma State. It really built me mentally, pitching-wise. I felt it was a lot better because I got to call my own games and get into a groove as a pitcher. It should help me a lot this year.

How did you adjust to your transition last year?

Alex: It is a pretty big transition for me, but I feel the summer really helped me out just concentrating on being a pitcher only. I went through the whole fall being a pitcher and changed my workout and throwing program. I am just now starting to feel comfortable with being a pitcher.

Chiqui: Last season was a big change for me coming to a major university from high school. The competition was a lot higher and knowing that I had to do whatever it would take to help my team out. At first it was hard to get used to: it is a bit quicker, the guys are faster, they are stronger. I had to get used to knowing how to pitch because at this level these guys can hit anything.

Andrew: In high school I was a starter so it was tough to get ready for the role as a relief pitcher. It is tough for a lot of guys that were starters in high school and I know it was tough for me. Getting ready sooner to pitch is something that you build upon and it is something that you learn through experience.

What do you remember about the end of the season last year?

Alex: The College World Series was the most exciting thing I can remember in my life so far at this point. It was unbelievable. It was a great experience and hopefully we can show all of the young guys what it is like to get back there.

Chiqui: I felt a lot more comfortable at the end of the year because I picked up on a lot of things that the coaches taught me to help me get through the year. I picked up on a lot of the things that the veterans told me.

Andrew: It was real exciting with the Regionals and then advancing to the College World Series. I have three friends that play for Florida so it was nice beating them last year in Regionals.

What is your role as a relief pitcher?

Alex: Right now I would say as a set-up man. Just set-up for George Huguet or Shawn Valdes-Fauli.

Chiqui: My role is to come into situations where it's a close a game and they need an out. Mostly against lefty batters to get out of an inning.

Andrew: Right now my role is to get lefties out. Coach preaches to me every day that is my role here and that is how I feel I can help this team.

Is it tough to be a relief pitcher and only pitch in certain situations?

Alex: I think that is the exciting part about being a relief pitcher. We are not out there for four or five innings. We get one or two innings and it is usually in a clutch situation, which is exciting. We also get to pitch in more than one day in a weekend. It is those kind of situations that is exciting about being a relief pitcher.

Chiqui: It was tough at first because I was a starter in high school and the roles are different. You have to get ready quicker and you have to be prepared to pitch late in the game.

Andrew: It is a lot tougher than people think. You don't get a lot of time to prepare. You usually only get one batter to get warmed up. I have to watch the game the whole time and my arm gets a little tired sometimes. It is tougher and you have to be mentally strong to come into tough situations with guys on base.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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