Q&A with Darren O'Day

Darren O'Day, 24, signed as a fifth-year senior out of University of Florida just prior to the 2006 draft. Although he is likely headed for a set-up role, with Ryan Aldridge nursing a sore arm, O'Day is closing for Rancho Cucamonga. And, through six games, things are going well as he's allowed two hits against seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings to earn the Cal League's Pitcher of the Week award.

Do you think that, as a side-armer, you have a particular advantage early in the season when hitters haven't had a chance to see it at all?

Darren O'Day There's definitely a bigger margin of error. They've been seeing guys throwing over the top for eight inning's. Bartolo's in there throwing in the mid-90's, then Brok comes in throwing the sinker. Then I come in there throwing from my knees, so it's just switching it up and something different. For an inning, I can do well.

You had a chance to get out there on opening day and to close. That must have felt great.

Darren O'Day That's an honor to be out there and to pitch with a Cy Young award winner and pick up one of my best friends on the team (Brok Butcher). It was a good first day of the season.

Is your slider is your bread and butter?

Darren O'Day That's my strikeout pitch. I'd say my most consistent pitch is my fastball. That's what I'm going to get guys out on.

What have you been focused on mechanically?

Darren O'Day I went to instructs last year and (Angels minor league roving pitching instructor) Kernan Ronan pulled me aside and said, ‘Why don't we try a windup?' That adds a little more deception with legs, arms flying everywhere, so I worked that out at instructs and it was great. When I came to spring training, he said to move over to the right side of the rubber so I moved over, with a little more deception coming from behind the hitters. Both things they've given me to address have helped me out quite a bit.

You're the only pitcher from Orem to make the jump to Rancho. That must feel good as a vote of confidence in what you're doing.

Darren O'Day It's awesome. I'm an older guy who went to college for five years – played for four. When I was on the Orem team, I was playing with guys who were being born when I was learning cursive. It's good that they're challenging me – I'm glad they are and I'd like to show them I can do it.

With Aldridge out right now, you're getting the opportunity to step up a little and close some games. Do you enjoy being in that role?

Darren O'Day I love it, but I'm a realist though. While Ryan's hurt – and Ryan's going to be a closer in the big leagues and going to be an All-Star one day – while he's getting healthy again, I'll be glad to be up here. If they choose to put me out there every day, then I'll do my best to achieve success every day. But he'll be back – hopefully sooner than later.

With your unique mechanics, is it harder to pick up tips just from watching other guys or talking with guys on the staff?

Darren O'Day It's a little bit different. Luckily, we've got Kevin Lynch here who throws similar to me, so we'll be able to learn from each other and help each other out quite a bit. A guy like Brok who has real good sink on his fastball, I can learn a little bit from him, but in terms of the slider and change, it's all different.

Last year saw something of an emergence of the side-armers at the big league level with guys like Pat Neshek, Cla Meredith and Brian Fuentes having big success. Do you think their results helps you get more of a look?

Darren O'Day Oh yeah. When I started college, there weren't many side-armers. And then, it turned into every team has a side-armer now in college. Maybe we're seeing a little bit of that in the pros. It's just a useful tool to disrupt the hitters. You bring them through the lineup, you throw me at them, then a guy behind me throwing 98, it's just a complete change.

What are your goals for yourself in your first full professional season?

Darren O'Day Go out there and throw strikes first of all, and then get outs. Whatever they want to do with me is what I'll do – if they want me to close, set-up, if they want me to start, I'll do that.

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