Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Jose Guzman

GENEVA, IL - In 2008, Jose Guzman was one of the Northwest League's top closers. The right-hander saved 15 games for the short-season Vancouver Canadians. In 2009, Guzman got off to a fast start, saving four games and posting a 0.00 ERA during the month of April, before a back injury in May slowed him down. David Malamut spoke to Guzman over the weekend...

Jose Guzman was one of the top players on the Vancouver Canadians' roster in 2008. The Dominican native was named to the Northwest League's Post-Season All-Star team after posting a 2.25 ERA and saving 15 games for Vancouver. He struck-out 38 in 36 innings and allowed only one homerun.

Guzman began the year pitching much as he had with Vancouver in 2008, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings and saving four games in April. However, he has been battling a sore back during the month of May, and it has shown in his numbers. He has allowed seven runs in 2.2 innings this month.

Guzman was placed on the disabled list this weekend and has returned to Phoenix to rehab his sore back. Before he left, he spoke with David Malamut about his favorite players, his health and more...

David Malamut: How is your back?

Jose Guzman: My back now is a little bit sore. When I throw it's sore, when I practice it's ok.

DM: In your first year in America, you pitched one game with Triple-A Sacramento. What was that like, and what did you learn from that?

JG: My first year in the United States, when I threw in Sacramento, I was nervous. I played one year in the Dominican and one year in Arizona, and then they say, "Guzman go to Sacramento." I say no, they say "yeah you go." Oh my god I was nervous.

DM: In 2007 you were in Stockton and Vancouver, mainly as a starter. How was that expierence?

JG: My arm is ready for everyday, my arm is better for the closer role. When I started in Stockton, I was only 19 years old and then I went to Vancouver and got more experience.

DM: Last year you played at Stockton and Vancouver. How was your experience different from the year before considering you spent all of last year in the bullpen?

JG: Last year in Vancouver I threw fastball in, fastball away. I would throw a changeup. My slider was nasty. My manager said "you my man in the bullpen." I'll throw today, tomorrow, the next day. I got 15 saves in Vancouver.

DM: Back in the Dominican, how was your first experience of playing pro baseball, and what did you learn?

JG: One day I got a fastball in my face. When I was a little kid I played catcher. Before the pros I played catcher and I took a fastball to my nose. (ED Note: he still has the mark on his face from the broken nose.)

DM: How do you take that experience to pitching?

JG: I learned to throw strikes, throw down and be relaxed.

DM: How difficult was the transition from playing in the Dominican to playing in the States?

JG: In the Dominican, it is too hot. Here it is different. I throw two innings here and it is better here.

DM: Is it different with all of the fans in the stands and what do you expect later in the year?

JG: The fans say "GUZMAN sign my ball." I like it.

DM: What is your favorite American food?

JG: Chipotle. I love Chipotle.

DM: How did you get started playing baseball in the Dominican?

JG: My mother say, "go to school, no baseball." I said "please please please baseball. I like baseball." My ma didn't like baseball when I was a little kid. After the broken nose, my ma said "no more," but my father say "go, go, go." When I see Sammy Sosa, I'd like it to be me.

DM: What player did you try to imitate when you were young?

JG: Pedro Martinez.

DM: Who is your favorite player?

JG: Josh Beckett (2000 Kane County Cougar). He is intense.

DM: You could have worn his Cougar number (19).

Franklin Hernandez got it instead.

Special thanks Pam Rasmussen for help with translation and to Jose for taking the time to do the interview.

About the writer

David Malamut has been a season ticket holder of the Cougars for the past 13 years. He has also been writing a daily website about the team for that long at http://malamut.net. David wrote a book about the history of the Cougars in 2005. Baseball In Kane County, Arcadia Publishing. For daily updates on the Cougars, stats and game stories please go to David's website, Voice of A Season Ticket Holder, http://malamut.net.

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