A Q&A With RHP Paxton Pace

Mississippi State redshirt freshman righthanded pitcher Paxton Pace, who had Tommy John surgery late in the season last year, talks about his Sunday performance against Auburn and how his arm is doing after the surgery.

Paxton Pace, in his second outing of the 2009 season, threw 1.1 innings, allowing no runs on 1 hit while striking out 2 against Auburn. He was throwing his fastball, slider and changeup for strikes, although the two curveballs he threw stayed out of the strikezone.

This was you second outing of the year after not playing last year due to your surgery. How did you feel?
"Of course I was nervous because it has been two years since I played, but I knew I had to go out there and throw strikes or at least let them hit it so that our defense would have a chance to make a play. That's a lot better than giving up a walk."

What pitches were you throwing today?
"I was throwing mostly fastball and changeup. Toward lefties, I try to use the movement that moves away from them more, and righties I usually go in. But we didn't go in on a righty today, we didn't go in on anybody today. I threw a slider to the last guy I struck out, although it didn't move too much but he went after it."

You threw a couple of curveballs but didn't get them over, but your changeup really looked good against Auburn.
"I'm trying to get my breaking stuff back, but it's a little rusty. My changeup has been my break and butter, maybe it never left me."

You were consistenly throwing your fastball 88 to 89 miles per hour. How does that compare to last year's velocity prior to your injury?
"My velo last year was probably 87-89 consistently and I could run it up there at 90 to 91. Today was a little bit better. And I can honestly say that I didn't try to rear back and overthrow. I just tried to stay nice and easy with it."

And your arm is not 100% yet is it?
"I think my arm is 90 to 95%. And on given days I can come out here and it feels great, then some days it's doesn't. Like tomorrow, I will probably be more sore than most people who only throw 25 pitches because I haven't thrown that many in a while. It's just being smart and not overdoing it. I don't want to go out and rehurt it and have a setback because I want to be out here playing."

Have the coaches told you how often they expect to use you as the season progresses?
"At first, (pitching) Coach (Butch) Thompson said he just wanted to get me innings in the right situations, try to get my feet wet but keep me out of pressure situations because I hadn't played in two years."

How does your arm feel right now while we are talking?
"My arm feels great. I feel like I could have thrown three or four more innings if they had let me."

With this performance today, you will probably be pitching more than you have during the first part of the season. How tough has it been to sit on the bench watching everybody else throw?
"It's a lot different knowing you aren't going to play because of your arm. But it's worse knowing you can play but with limitations on you."

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

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