Andrew Shipman: At the beginning of the year, I was excited just to make the Double-A team out of spring training. You set goals for yourself to have a solid first half, and for me it has already been a solid year. I can't stop now; I have to go out every day and have the same mindset, which is to get the job done. I'm definitely pleased, though.
Inside The Ivy: Last year when you were traded, you only got to spend a couple of months with some of these guys at Daytona. Now it seems you've really bonded with them at West Tenn. What is your assessment of the team camaraderie?
Andrew Shipman: When I first came over, it really wasn't a weird transition at all. The guys were so awesome and they made me feel right at home from the first day I was there. It was the same in spring training; everybody just clicked. It's the same now. We're playing well and everyone gets along really well. We're not a team with a lot of problems or a group of guys just doing their own thing.
Inside The Ivy: You've really been the most consistent reliever in this bullpen. Tell us a little about yourself and your mindset on the mound.
Andrew Shipman: Ever since I started professional ball, my mindset has been to go out, and no matter who's in the box, just make the pitches you want to make and don't think about what might happen. Always know that you're going to get the batter out. At the beginning of this year in my first three games or so, I actually wasn't feeling that. I was out there putting a lot of pressure on myself. I had to go out and perform, because I didn't want to get moved down or whatever. My pitching coach (Alan Dunn) pulled me aside and just said, "Hey, this is not how you pitch." After that, I went out and just started doing exactly what I had been before.
Inside The Ivy: Speaking of Alan Dunn, how would you describe him?
Andrew Shipman: The man is a machine. (laughing) We'll come out and sometimes he'll drop a joke, and you just have to laugh. He comes out every day and makes us get after it. There are no down times throwing. Every pitch, you're getting after it. He makes you go that extra little bit that you need.
Inside The Ivy: How different was it having Grady Little as your manager recently as opposed to Bobby Dickerson?
Andrew Shipman: It was business as usual, but you couldn't help but think about it. I closed out the game and Grady Little shook my hand. It was awesome.
Inside The Ivy: With guys like Greenberg, Murton and Hill all getting called up to the big league club, it sort of feels like the Diamond Jaxx are the "Triple-A" team this year. Is that your opinion, too?
Andrew Shipman: We come out every day to play ball, and we leave everything out on the field. We're going to go out and give it everything we have.
Inside The Ivy: What was your initial reaction when the Red Sox traded you last year?
Andrew Shipman: Shock. Just shock. It was my first full year of getting used to playing professional ball. I was just getting used to my role there and getting comfortable with the team, the manager and the pitching coach. All of a sudden, it's, "Pack your bags. You're going to the Cubs."
Inside The Ivy: Was it really that blunt?
Andrew Shipman: It was. I was on the team bus playing cards and getting ready to go on a road trip. My coach said, "Shipman, you've got to get off the bus." I thought I was in trouble or something, and then he told me to get my bags. He didn't tell me anything else; I had to wait until I got on the phone with the minor league coordinator. Obviously, it was a good thing for me, but it was a shock at the time. I really didn't know how to take it, but I'm glad it happened.
Inside The Ivy: Did it bother you any?
Andrew Shipman: For me it felt strange, because it was so out of the blue. The more I thought about it, the more I decided they were just giving me a chance with a team that wanted me.
Inside The Ivy: We know the story behind your glass eye. Tell us a little about entering the draft in 2003 and what happened there.
Andrew Shipman: It (the eye) was a known thing. All the scouts that were talking about drafting me all knew, so it wasn't an issue at all with them. But I had to fill out some health forms. The packet was huge and I had surgery on my left eye. I can't see out of it anymore. The health board axed my name out of the draft because of health issues. The scouts then said, "We can't draft you, and we don't know why."
Inside The Ivy: They didn't know why?
Andrew Shipman: Not at the time. They found out later it was because of the eye. I told them I was going to play in the Alaskan League, and they said if I went there and pitched well, they'd sign me. They assured me it wasn't an issue for them.
Inside The Ivy: It's been fun visiting with you. We're glad to have you in the Cubs' organization.
Andrew Shipman: Thank you. I'm happy to be here.