How is it determined who will be in the bullpen ready to throw during the game?
"Before the game, Coach Thompson and I discuss who is available for the game. We don't really have it where each guy is going to throw in the 5th, 8th or 9th inning. The situation in the game presents itself. The guys who are going to throw in the game know who they are. They don't know when they are coming in the game because the situations determine that - are we winning or losing, is it early in the game or late in the game, is it a lefthanded or righthanded batter, is it two strikes?
"Coach Thompson and I will communicate during a game as guys are getting warm and loose. And then we will go from there."
What does Coach Thompson say to you when it comes to getting a pitcher ready in the pen?
"I kind of know what his mindset is at times. And I usually walk to the dugout from the bullpen in between innings. And I kind of know what he wants the next inning.
It's not only you in the bullpen but you also have bullpen catchers.
"Our bullpen catcher, Ronald Sims, is remarkable in the bullpen with our pitchers. Zack Randolph is another one that has been in the pen catching our pitchers. Without those two guys we couldn't do what we do. Those two guys don't get nearly the amount of credit they deserve. The fans see what happens on the field but they don't see all that those guys do."
What is the difference in the pitchers when it comes to them warming up in the pen?
"Everybody has their own routine on how they get loose. The quickest to get loose is Ross (Mitchell). It doesn't take him very long to get his arm going. Luis Pollorena, when he was in the bullpen, didn't take long to get ready either. A guy who takes a little longer to get ready is Ben Bracewell. He's had some surgeries so it takes him a little longer to get himself loose. When (Jonathan) Holder comes down in the 7th inning, he has a particular routine that he follows. He does a muscle ball routine with Ronald. He has a plan when he comes to the pen. And he's followed that plan since he first got here as a freshman. And he does it every single time.
"We usually have everything mapped out. They know what they have to do and I know what they have to do. They catchers know what they have to do."
Other than getting the pitchers ready to go into the game, what else is done in the bullpen?
"We keep track of every hitter and what they have done in the game. We also keep up with whether a guy is a good runner or if he's not a good runner. We know if he's a good bunter or not a good bunter. That allows our guys to be prepared when they come into the game. They just have to go into the game and execute a pitch and get the out."
After a pitcher has been taken out of the game does he go down to the bullpen and warm his arm down?
"He does. Depending on the number of pitches a pitcher throws, there is an arm care routine that we do. They'll do some exercises. And the next day they may lift.
"In Coach Thompson's system the guys throw every single day. So, the guy who has just gotten through pitching has to take care of his arm and his body so he can throw the next day. Because of that, they have to come down and take care of their arm and body."
How many times will a pitcher warm up in the bullpen? Why I ask that is sometimes you may warm a guy up, then the pitcher on the mound gets out of trouble and you don't have to use the relief pitcher. It seems to me there is only so many times that you can warm a guy up in a single game.
"That is a great question. Taking care of a pitcher's arm is very, very important to us. Because of that, we don't want to throw a guy too much. I trust our guys because they know their arms. If a guy comes down to the pen and we throw him and then don't use him, then maybe the next inning we don't throw him as much. But we always have to have them ready because we never know when they might go in. But we always have to be smart with their arms. I always say this, 'don't shoot all of your bullets in the bullpen.' The most important part of the game is on the field."