Darin Downs: I felt pretty good. I was a little nervous in the first inning, but after that—after I threw my first pitch, everything fell right into place.
Inside The Ivy: Your fastball seemed to be looking great out there.
Darin Downs: Yeah, I was getting ahead in the count, throwing strikes and just taking things from there. I wasn't sure exactly how fast I was throwing at the time, but after I'd get ahead, it was back to the curveball on the strikeout pitch. That was working really well, too.
Inside The Ivy: You showed excellent command last night, whereas in the past, you've struggled some with control. Was that something you had to work on in extended spring training?
Darin Downs: Yeah, in fact that was one of the main things I was working on—just being more consistent with every pitch. I was also working on keeping the ball further down in the strike zone.
Inside The Ivy: You were originally at Peoria this season. How were your spirits after being sent back to extended spring training for another season with the Hawks? Were you disappointed originally?
Darin Downs: A little bit, yeah. But I understand that I had to work hard and get some stuff straightened out. It worked out OK.
Inside The Ivy: Do you expect a trip back to Peoria this season?
Darin Downs: I'm hoping so, but you never know. I'm just going to go out there and throw and leave that up to them.
Inside The Ivy: Tell us a little about your coaches: Trey Forkerway (manager), Tom Beyers (hitting coach/ex-manager), Dave Rosario (pitching coach).
Darin Downs: Trey is a very laid back guy. He's pretty cool and he's a great guy to play for. He'll be serious when he has to be, but he'll joke around, too. When it's time to play, it's time to play. Tom I played for last year when he was managing. He's exactly the same way as Trey I think. If you don't hustle out there, he'll really hop on you. Nick Frangella (trainer) is a great guy as well. He's also really fun to be around. He likes to joke around a lot.
Inside The Ivy: You were the opening night starter on this staff and are heralded unofficially as the team's No. 1. Does that carry a certain responsibility, in your opinion?
Darin Downs: Not really. I just want to go out there and get the season off on a good note. I'd like to set the pace for everybody else, but I don't think there's much pressure.
Inside The Ivy: Are you comfortable with a leadership role?
Darin Downs: You know, I talked to some of the guys—even the older guys about certain things. They asked me a couple of questions about different things such as that. It's a whole different game up here than in college or in high school. We talked about a lot of things. I don't feel any pressure, though.
Inside The Ivy: Given that this is your second tour of duty with the Hawks, what are your goals now?
Darin Downs: I'd say the first goal is to make it back to Peoria. I can always throw, but I just need to throw a lot better than before; be more consistent; go out every start and have more consecutive quality starts; and cut down on the walks.