Q&A: Todd Wellemeyer

A Q&A with the right-hander.                                                            

Q: How is your arm and is there any pain still left over from the DL stint?

A: Right now, it's kind of like going into spring training. You get occasional soreness and tightness in the muscle. It's nothing serious. The injury, to my shoulder, hasn't flared up at all. Other than just soreness, there's no problem. There's some rust, but I feel good. I know there's definitely going to be some competition in this bullpen.

Q: Who has helped you the most this year, and what to you has been your biggest improvement from where you were at this time last year?

A: I would say probably the fact that I can go out there and relax a lot more. It's a big change from last year when I would go out, pitch as hard as I could, and the game would speed up and I wouldn't be able to control it. This year, there's more going out and thinking about what I need to do, and staying relaxed. When you stay relaxed, you get a lot more pop on your fastball and a lot more break on your spinner. So it's just knowing yourself and not trying to do much.

Q: Your spinner?

A: It's like a slider. It's a slider with a little more break. They call it a slurve. (laughs) I don't know; everybody throws their breaking pitch differently.

Q: What has been your proudest moment with the Cubs so far? Obviously, your big league debut and the save in Milwaukee last year immediately come to mind.

A: Just helping them get to the playoffs last year and being in the post-season with them was amazing. As you know, I wasn't on the roster, but they still let me travel with them and stuff. And I really appreciate that. Dusty let me come along and experience what all happened.

Q: Speaking of Dusty, what is some of the best advice you've received from not only him but Larry Rothschild as well?

A: All these guys are just great, you know. Dusty is an unbelievable guy. He's what you need in a manager. He's not getting too pumped up when you win; he's not getting too down when you lose. He plays it straight forward. Larry has also been great. He's a very smart pitching coach and one of the best I've had.

Q: A lot of writers and fans have commented on the so-called "abuse" of pitchers. What do you personally think about pitch counts? Are they overrated?

A: I think it depends on the pitcher. It also depends on the situation he's in. If a pitcher has been battling and going out there and throwing 25-30 pitches per inning, and is looking at a 120 in the sixth, it's up to us as to how we think we can handle it. It also depends a lot on the bullpen availability. I mean, there are so many factors that go into it, but it all comes down to how the pitcher has been doing during the game.

Q: What do you attribute to your success this year?

A: Well, it started in spring training. You can go out there and throw and throw and throw, but you have to step back, take a hard look at yourself, and examine what kind of pitcher you are. Larry has told me a lot about Matt Clement. I guess when [Clement] started, he was a lot like me: trying to go out and muscle up. Well, he ended up figuring out his body and discovering what it takes for him to be successful. Not everyone is going to be able to do the same thing and be equally as successful. It's basically going out there and figuring yourself out. And you don't do that by pitching and pitching and pitching. Obviously, it will help, but just sitting back and going over some video and all that stuff helps. There are a lot of different elements.

Q: I know you've learned a lot this season from guys like Clement, Greg Maddux, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, etc. What has been the best advice you've received from your teammates this season?

A: I tell you what, every start Maddux made, I was there. I don't know if you saw me, but I was back behind the catcher just watching him and observing him. His head doesn't move. He's so smooth out there. He once said to me, "If you stand on the side of the highway and a car goes by you at 90 and the next goes by you at 95, you're not going to be able to tell the difference." So it's all about location. It's all about setting up hitters. [Greg's] amazing. He is a very intelligent pitcher.

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