Q&A: David Aardsma

David Aardsma's lucky number is nine. That's how many times the right-hander says he has been shuffled back and forth between the majors and minor leagues in his career. Aardsma was called up from Triple-A Iowa to Chicago twice this season and his second time around with the team was much more improved than his first.

The 24-year-old former first-round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants dazzled the Cubs in Spring Training when his fastball was reaching the upper 90s with good command. He began the year at Iowa, where he struck out 11 without walking a batter in seven innings. He allowed two hits and no runs.

His first stint with the big league team was not as impressive. Aardsma yielded seven runs in six innings, walking nine and striking out five before being optioned back. His second time around saw much better results with a 3.72 ERA in 14 appearances. He struck out nine and walked five.

"He's got power stuff certainly," Iowa pitching coach Alan Dunn said of the hard-throwing Aardsma. "He's done a real fine job of attacking the strike zone and has made some real good progress with us. He has to continue developing his second pitch, but I've seen some real good signs.

"He just has to continue to develop in order to see what his role ends up being at the major league level."

We visited with Aardsma moments before Thursday's 4-3 Iowa win over New Orleans in Triple-A action and asked him these questions.


Inside The Ivy: A.D. told us you need to continue developing your second pitch. Would that be your slider?

David Aardsma: Yes, the slider. I've also been working on a splitter. It's been going great. The other night, I got some good swings on it and got a couple of pop-up's. I'm definitely happy with it. The slider is something I've thrown for a while, but the split-finger is a new pitch for me. I first started working on it right after Spring Training. The progress is going well. I'm focusing more on my slider, because it's more of a pitch I've thrown longer.

Inside The Ivy: Your second time around with the Chicago team was a little better than the first. What was different?

David Aardsma: The last several outings, I definitely had the success I wanted and I was getting outs. I was very happy with how I pitched the second time around. I really never worried about the ERA in my first stint, just my each individual outing and going out throwing strikes. Unfortunately, sometimes it comes down to them needing a long-relief guy. I was pitching well, but [long relief is] not my position.

Inside The Ivy: How much did it effect you not being given a chance to solidify yourself there?

David Aardsma: Well, it's tough to stay up there with guys coming and going off the DL. When you're having starters struggle and guys go down with injuries, things start shuffling around and things start to happen, so you can become the odd man out. You never know what role you'll end up in.

Inside The Ivy: As someone who started a few times previously in your career, you've said before that you prefer relieving, correct?

David Aardsma: Oh, there's no question. It's a whole different attitude down there. I love the opportunity of getting to pitch every day and have that adrenaline flowing by going out there in a tough situation. There's nothing quite like that. As a starter, you throw one day and then have to sit for four days. Out of the bullpen, even if you did badly, you can get back in the next day and redeem yourself. I like the advantage a lot better.

Inside The Ivy: You're also able to let loose a little more I'd imagine.

David Aardsma: I'm not one to really focus on the radar gun, but reaching 100 mph as I did a couple of times, people always come up to you and tell you so. I do know when I was facing Albert Pujols, I'd gotten there a couple of times. He's a great person to throw that fast to. If you're going to try to blow a fastball by him, you've got to throw it hard!

Inside The Ivy: When you first got sent up, you walked a few hitters. How would you describe your composure?

David Aardsma: It's not jitters; that's the last thing. It's excitement. You're out there with the ball in your hand, throwing against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's just a matter of calming down and slowing the game down. Sometimes you get so involved in the moment, not so much with the crowd, but because you're out there at the highest level of your game and facing some of the best hitters in all of baseball.

Inside The Ivy: That's not always a bad thing, is it?

David Aardsma: It's not always a bad thing, but you have to be able to control it. It's great to be pumped up, but it's hard to be pumped up when you're throwing the ball over the catcher's head. It's a matter of slowing the game down and throwing one pitch at a time. When you're facing Pujols with an 0-2 count, yeah, you let it go and you let the adrenaline catch up, but you don't let it take control.

Inside The Ivy: You've also taken a lot of "compliments" about being first on baseball's all-time alphabetical roster.

David Aardsma: Aaron was the first, so I got it by the fourth letter. I never even knew it or had any idea until I signed a professional contract a few years ago. But you know what? When my playing career is over, I want to be remembered not as the guy whose name came before Hank Aaron's. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play this game.


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