Going back to your first season in the big leagues last year, when you went from Double-A to the Majors, did you think you were ready? Did you have any thoughts that maybe the Cubs had rushed you a bit?
Nah, I don't think so (but) I don't think they were expecting me to come up. Before Spring Training, I wasn't a guy that was on their list to come up, but there were a couple of unfortunate injuries to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood that let me slip through the cracks and allowed me to get my shot. I think I was ready to go to begin the season.
It seemed that we were always seeing you talking to Greg Maddux on your days off. Who helped you the most last year between Larry Rothschild and Maddux?
Greg was great. I actually spent a lot of time talking with him, just learning the ropes. They're both great. Larry's a great pitching coach and Greg is a great mentor and a good guy to learn from by example.
I don't know if you know this, but last year you redefined the term "hard luck loser" in that the Cubs scored only nine runs while you were in the game during your nine losses. How do you think you pitched in those nine losses?
I had some games where I put together some quality starts and some when I struggled. But for the most part, I was happy with the success I had last season. I only won six games, but I felt like I kept the team in the game to win a lot of ballgames and that I just had some unfortunate incidents when some runs weren't scored. I took a lot of good things from last year.
What was it like making your major league debut against the vaunted St. Louis Cardinals?
I was a little nervous at first, as anyone would be. Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN against the division rivals, it was fun. It was the most exciting day of my life, for sure. I just went out there and pitched.
Were you disappointed that they pulled you after just 4 1/3 innings?
I think that was the way Dusty (Baker) was last year. He didn't want to let anybody, especially a rookie, get tossed in the fire.
With Prior now out for the year, Wade Miller on the DL with back spasms and Angel Guzman struggling, do you see yourself in the running for the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation in the immediate future?
I hope so, yeah. I just want to pitch well and keep my arm healthy. Whatever [the Cubs] need, whether it's Wade back or it's Angel, they know what's going on. Hopefully my arm will cooperate and I'll get back to where I was last year, and get back up to the big leagues.
You had a pretty good stat line while getting the win for Daytona last week. Was it more that you were a more advanced player than the hitters you were going up against, or were you just making your pitches and hitting your spots?
The first two innings, I went kind of tentative ... taking it kind of easy on myself. Then I said to myself, ‘I might as well settle down and try to get back to where I need to be.' The last four innings, innings three through six, were real crisp. My command was good and all four pitches were working.