Q&A: West Tenn's David Aardsma

West Tenn's David Aardsma remains undefeated since coming over to the Cubs in the LaTroy Hawkins trade with San Francisco back in May. He joined Inside The Ivy recently for a run-down of his season, and more.

Inside The Ivy: Tell us about your season to date. Are you overly satisfied with how things have gone since joining the organization?

David Aardsma: I feel like it's been a tale of two halves for me. When I first got here, I was starting. I was throwing well; I wasn't throwing really hard, but I was throwing good pitches. I made a couple of relief appearances in between starts and was still considered strong. Ever since the night in Mississippi (June 16) where we won the first half, I've been used exclusively out of the bullpen. I believe all the way up until about 3-4 weeks ago, I wasn't really throwing that well. Every other outing was kind of up in the air. I'd throw strikes, but I was so caught up in throwing hard that I often missed the concept of throwing strikes and getting guys out.

Really, the key was that I hadn't gotten back the mentality of being a closer. Closers come right after guys. They're aggressive, mean and don't let the other team beat them, and I wasn't doing that. My shoulder was also a little sore from overthrowing, so I took about 10 days off (July 20-30). When I came back, I had some heart-to-heart talks with our pitching coach (Alan Dunn) about how to get that mentality back. I came back going right after guys, attacking the other team and essentially telling them they weren't going to do anything to our bullpen. It's been going great ever since and I've had some really good outings. I had the one outing in Jacksonville (Aug. 13) where I gave up a couple of runs. I didn't have it that night, but I came right back a couple of nights later and showed them I wasn't falling apart.

Inside The Ivy: Was it difficult at first to adjust to the change of roles?

David Aardsma: When the Giants first talked to me about starting at the beginning of the year, I thought it would be a circus. I didn't think I could do it. I realized that if you throw good pitches, you're going to win regardless of where you're at. I perfected my slider a lot.

Inside The Ivy: What was the reason for moving into the starting rotation in the first place?

David Aardsma: It was to improve my slider and to make my off-speed stuff more consistent for strikes. They also felt I could go into the system and work my way up that way. One guy who comes to mind is Russ Ortiz, who was once a closer in the Giants' system. They made him a starter and he eventually took off. That was one point they definitely made. They felt I could pitch at the major league level, too.

Inside The Ivy: What went through your head when you learned you'd been traded to the Cubs?

David Aardsma: The phone call actually woke me up. It was from Brian Sabean, who told me that I was involved in a major league trade for LaTroy Hawkins. The first thing in my head was, "Are you kidding me? Is this serious? Is this April Fools Day?" He was very brief and straight to the point, telling me he was very happy with what I'd done with the organization. He told me that they just needed help at the top and felt LaTroy was the right man at the time. I was very happy with the Giants and I thought they treated me fairly. The day before I was traded, I had told someone that if I could be traded to anyone, it would be the Cubs. They were always my dream growing up with Harry Caray on WGN and watching the '89 team. The first jersey I ever got signed was a Ryne Sandberg jersey. It's funny--my mom came down to visit me recently and brought a photo of me in elementary school in front of Wrigley Field with all of my Cubs stuff.

Inside The Ivy: Considering where you pitched last year, did you view it as a disappointment to go to Double-A?

David Aardsma: No question. When the first thing they tell you is that you're going to Double-A, you question yourself. "What have I done? Have I not done enough? Have I not earned my spot?" Remember, I had never been to Double-A. I played High-A and then went straight to the major leagues. I thought I had at least proved myself at Triple-A, if not the major league club. It definitely brings you down a little, but you have to remember I was also in a different role then. You can either let yourself get taken down by it or rise above and do what it takes to get back to the next level.

Inside The Ivy: You recently got the news that you'd be going to the Arizona Fall League again. What was your reaction and how much are you looking forward to it?

David Aardsma: Being there last year with the Giants, I kind of know what to expect. I'm definitely excited to go. Last year, it was great for my team as we had probably seven or eight guys go on to the big leagues. We had a couple from the Braves, including Jeff Francouer. We had many guys from the Twins as well. It's a very good league talent-wise. Last year, I worked on my off-speed stuff a lot there. It's an opportunity against good competition to work on the little things you don't get to focus on during the season because you're worried about winning and losing.

Inside The Ivy: What do you enjoy doing away from the ballpark?

David Aardsma: I'm a big movie buff. With all the long bus rides and four guys to an apartment, you have to have something to do. We saw "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" a few weeks ago. It thought it was great, very funny and action-packed. Angelina Jolie, she looked all right. She looked all right.

Have questions or comments? Write to staff@insidetheivy.com.

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