Quick Hits: Todd Blackford

MESA, Ariz. -- At the start of each new season, there's always a few faces in every organization's spring camp that not everyone recognizes right off-hand. One of them -- acquired in the Todd Hollandsworth trade with Atlanta late last season along with RHP Angelo Burrows -- is right-hander Todd Blackford.

Blackford Background: Born June 10, 1985 ... Drafted by the Braves in the 13th round of the 2004 draft ... Originally from Warsaw, Ind. ... Appeared in 15 games his rookie season in the Gulf Coast League, allowing 28 runs for a 7.86 ERA ... Was 5-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 appearances with the short-season Danville Braves in 2005 ... Struck out 30 while walking 22 in 59 2/3 innings at Danville ... Pitched five innings of three-hit, shutout ball on Sept. 3 in his only appearance at Class-A Peoria with the Cubs last season.

On what type of pitcher he prides himself on.

"Well, I've never been a real strikeout pitcher. In the past, I've been a guy who gets the batter to put the ball in play. I throw a fastball, changeup and curveball. Rotation-wise, basically everything works around the fastball. My strikeout pitch would be my curveball. Coming out of high school, I was one of those guys who would rare back and let it go. Once I joined the Braves, I started having to learn how to pitch a little more."

On his initial reaction to being traded.

"I didn't know what to think. I hadn't really been clued in as to what went on in the trade. The trade that I was involved in happened during the championship of the Appalachian League. I was scheduled to pitch in one of those games, but got traded right then and there. At first, I was a little disappointed. I grew up about two hours from Chicago as a Cubs fan and was excited once I had time to think about it and let it sink in."

On the difference between the Cubs and Braves' organizations?

"I've been fortunate in the sense that the Cubs and Braves have the same philosophies on a number of things. Things are run a little differently, but as far as pitching and conduct goes, they're the same. Both teams pretty much have the same philosophies on pitching. Both stress getting ahead of batters and doing what you can to better yourself each day."

On his off-season workload and regime.

"I was actually supposed to come down to the Instructional League, but I got a staph infection and went to the hospital and had to stay home. The off-season was nice to go home and spend time with family. At the same time, I had a job to do and to get my workouts in. The off-season workouts were the fun part for me. You have to realize there's more than just baseball in the offseason. I had to get a job. I actually worked at a place in Indiana that makes all kinds of catalogues."

On some of the things he's been working on in Spring Training.

"Basically just the command of my pitches. That's really the only difference between major leaguers and minor leaguers in my opinion. The major leaguers can usually put the ball where they want it, when they want it."

On his goals and expectations heading into the year.

"Well, I'd definitely like to have a good first season with the Cubs. First, I want to stay injury free. I'd also like to make an all-star team this year and really begin to make a name for myself in this organization."


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