Kevin Barry Interview

The Braves have opened up the last spot in the bullpen for a spring training competition. BravesCenter's Bill Shanks talks with right-hander Kevin Barry, one of the non-roster invitees who will be at Disney trying to make the Atlanta roster. Barry finished the 2004 season with a hot streak, not allowing an earned run in his last twelve appearances.

SHANKS: So tell me how you feel about being invited to big league camp?
BARRY: I'm definitely excited about the whole situation. Coming off a strong season like I had before, I'm definitely excited about taking that next step and going to big league camp and hopefully making the team.

SHANKS: Were you surprised you weren't taken in the Rule V Draft? Did you expect to be selected?
BARRY: It's always in the back of your mind after you have a good season and the Braves opt not to protect you. Yea of course you want to get picked up and have the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues.

SHANKS: So were you relieved after you weren't picked?
BARRY: Yea because I mean growing up… this will be my fifth season with the Braves. It's a great organization to pitch in. They're always well known (for pitching), and of course you always want to stay with the guys who you've been with the last four years, the players and the coaches and the whole staff.

SHANKS: When you're in an organization like this where there are so many pitchers, do you have to simply want the opportunity to show them what you can do? And if so, is this your opportunity now?
BARRY: Yea. It's a tough situation to be in because it's such a good organization for pitching. Obviously there are numerous quality pitchers in the organization, so when you do have your shot to shine, there is added pressure to you because you don't know how many more opportunities you're going to get. I feel this is basically an opportunity to showcase my skills and show everybody what I have.

SHANKS: Schuerholz has told me that last spot in the bullpen is pretty much up for grabs. So do you feel you are going to get a legit shot?
BARRY: The only thing I can really do is concentrate on what I can control, and then I have to leave it up to John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone to make their decisions. I can only control throwing a baseball and let them make the decision of who it's going to be.

SHANKS: But it's not like many years where they have a veteran with experience. This is really going to be an open competition.
BARRY: Yea I feel that there are a couple of spots that are open and up for grabs. Hopefully, I'll get the opportunity to pitch and prove myself and hopefully win a spot.

SHANKS: You had a tremendous finish to the 2004 season. You didn't allow an earned run in the last six weeks of the year. What was working for you late in the season?
BARRY: Basically I was just listening to Guy Hansen and taking in what he had to say along with Bill Fischer. We had a meeting in late July about the things I needed to work on mechanically. I just basically put my faith in them. Then I basically turned my season around.

SHANKS: Guy told me that he got you to go back to the windup (with no one on base).
BARRY: Right. Yea.

SHANKS: Does that feel more comfortable for you now?
BARRY: Yea. It feels real good. I've been throwing the past couple of weeks off the mound and going back to the windup has really helped. I should never have taken it out of my arsenal.

SHANKS: But that's easy to do when you are a reliever.
BARRY: Yea exactly because most of the time you're going to be coming in with runners on so obviously you want to get the experience of working out of the stretch. Obviously I don't know exactly what my role's going to be this upcoming year. In Richmond, the spot was to come in basically as the set up man after Roman (Colon) left and before that I was coming in with guys on. So it was something I needed to work on – throwing out of the stretch because I was a little slow to the plate. I think that Guy realized that I needed to throw out of the wind up. I think it really helped me out.

SHANKS: Ok it's fastball, slider, and change, correct?
BARRY: Right. Yea. Correct.

SHANKS: Wasn't your fastball into the mid-90's last season?
BARRY: Yea toward the end of the year and in Venezuela. That's what I was told. I don't look at the charts or anything like that.

SHANKS: What did you work on in Venezuela?
BARRY: I continued to work on my slider and my off speed stuff. Plus just to go there for the experience was one of the other things. It went ok. I pulled a back muscle toward the end of my stint there. So they really didn't have the medical attention over there that I needed so they sent me home. The rehab took a little longer than expected, so I didn't go back. It was a good experience.

SHANKS: Don't you get a lot of ground balls?
BARRY: I'd like to think so, yea.

SHANKS: Can you be somewhat of a Gryboski-type reliever that can come in and get a ground ball or are you a strikeout reliever?
BARRY: I'll do anything that basically can get me up there. It's hard to compare yourself to a Kevin Gryboski. He's a good pitcher and he's proven himself at the big league level. It depends on the situation. If you have two guys on and you have a guy on first base, then obviously you don't want that runner to score, the inherited runner. If you have to get the ground ball or a pop up or a strikeout, then you try to do that. It also depends on the hitter. Sometimes you have to play into their weakness.

SHANKS: Do you feel that it will be important to make a good first impression on Bobby and Leo and John?
BARRY: Well I think the big thing is to just stay yourself. I think that I've had success doing that. You basically want to go in there and be yourself. There's some added pressure because they haven't seen me throw before. They've only known you from a statistical standpoint and basically what they've heard from within the organization. Yea it is important to go in there and basically prove yourself in the first couple of weeks.

SHANKS: Are you coming to Camp Leo?
BARRY: Yes.

SHANKS: Is that exciting?
BARRY: Yea I'm really excited about that. We have such bad weather up north (lives in New Jersey) so just to be able to get a couple of weeks start on throwing is pretty crucial.

SHANKS: Is there anything left for you to do at AAA? Did you do all you needed to do last season?
BARRY: No. I didn't play a whole season there. Basically, to prove yourself you have to be able to play a whole season at that level. That's what I feel, but I thought I finished up pretty good. I started learning the strike zone more at AAA. It's a little smaller than it is in AA. There are better hitters in AAA that are a lot more experienced. It's just something that you really have to get used to.

SHANKS: I know Guy Hansen told me that he thought it wouldn't hurt you if you got a little more time in AAA, but that you had the ability to go into spring training and win a job. Is that fair?
BARRY: Yea. Right. It isn't like I'm going to be that depressed, but I'm definitely going in to compete for a job. That's the main thing.

SHANKS: Knowing that you are getting ready to get your chance, has it made the last few weeks more exciting? Can you feel it's been a different winter?
BARRY: Yea. I would think so. I think my workouts have been a little bit more intense. This is something to strive for.

Bill Shanks can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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