1-on-1 with Sophomore LHP Vance Tatum

Gene's Page talks one-on-one with Mississippi State sophomore left-handed pitcher Vance Tatum after the Tuesday night intrasquad game.

  • Name: Vance Tatum
  • Position: Lefthanded Pitcher
  • Class: Sophomore
  • HT: WT: 6-foot-4, 210
  • Bats-Throws: L-L
  • High School: Southaven (MS) High School

  • What is the story about your nickname being Moonlight?
    "My sophomore year of high school I went out to Oklahoma to play in the Junior Sunbelt Classic to play with Team Mississippi. The first game happened to be at 9 am and I didn't have my best outing in the world the week before. So, I said I can't pitch in the morning. I had a mental block at first. So, they said I can only pitch at night. Myles Gentry was also on that team and he was the first one to call me Moonlight. And in The Field of Dreams the youngest player on that team was Moonlight Graham. And I was the youngest player in that tournament. It just kind of stuck with me from there.

    "And during that time that was when twitter started getting big so I asked what should my twitter name be? So, I put Moonlight on my twitter name."

    I talked to Coach Thompson about your pitching. Something that he said about you is sometimes you don't always do your best your first 10 pitches but then you almost become lights out. Tonight, you were good from the get-go, maybe due to the moonlight of the moon. You had no trouble at all with the first guy tonight.
    "The thing about that is I tried to stay focused on my pitches in the bullpen and tried to get good and loose. I tried to take the time to make sure I was ready to be in the game instead of rushing myself. I felt like that had a lot to do with how I pitched.

    "It has been a weird journey going from starter to reliever to starter to reliever. My arm is having to adjust to that. My being ready in the pen is a big part of that."

    You mentioned that you were trying to get focused in the bullpen. Is that something that maybe you haven't done as much as you should have?
    "I feel like it was a matter of me making sure my arm was ready to be in the game. I threw a few more pitches than I thought I needed to. I did that because my arm has to adjust from being a starter and having all the time in the world to adjust to being a reliever and having to get ready as fast as I can."

    What were you trying to do tonight on the mound? To me, it looked like you were going inside a lot and you really had command of your off-speed pitches.
    "I felt like what was really working well for me was what (catcher) Josh Lovelady was (calling). I had all four of my pitches sharing (the same) space, the fastball in on a righty and the changeup was really playing off of that. And I was spinning my breaking ball really well. I felt like anything that he (called) I had all the confidence in the world to throw it."

    You have been a high strikeout pitcher this fall. In fact, you had four strikeouts in tonight's game in your two innings of work. What are you getting your strikeouts on?
    "I think all of my pitches share the same space when they come out of my hand and also due to the fact that I am not scared to come in with two strikes with my (changeup). It freezes a lot of righthanded hitters. I think they chase the changeup away because it looks so much like a fastball."

    You are really good when there is a man on third base and less than two outs. Why are you so good when that situation occurs?
    "I feel like the inner competitor comes out of me and I'm not going to let the guy get 90 feet farther. I'm not going to give a pitch away and whatever I throw is going to be my best pitch when it goes up there."

    Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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