Q&A with Geoff Jones

Sidearm southpaw Geoffrey Jones was promoted to Triple-A for the first time in his career last week after posting a microscopic 0.36 ERA and .151 average against in 23 relief appearances for Double-A Tennessee. The 27-year-old left-hander, who picked up the nickname "Big Nasty" while with the Smokies, garnered All-Star honors for his first-half performance.

Jones signed with the Cubs last November as a minor league free agent, bidding farewell to the only club he'd ever called home to: the San Diego Padres. Following eight seasons with San Diego's farm system that began in 1999, Jones decided to move on to a new club after last season.

Since doing so, he has thus far put together his finest year yet.

In 25 innings with Tennessee prior to last week's promotion to Iowa, Jones had struck out 33 and walked only four while also notching six saves.

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How did you come about joining the Cubs back in December?

I had been a free agent the year before and had talked to the Cubs, but I had ended up re-signing with the Padres. The Cubs were interested again this (past) winter, so I figured that they had enough interest so that I was interested. They made an offer and I liked it. It's been good and I've definitely enjoyed my time so far.

As a left-handed sidearm guy, how much of an edge do you feel that gives you? There aren't too many of those guys around.

Yeah, once I started doing that (sidearm style), I felt really comfortable with it. Hopefully, it does give me some sort of edge. They've got another one in the organization that's pretty good, but hopefully there's a need for those somewhere, and hopefully it's with the Cubs.

The other sidearm guy is Clay Rapada, of course. Have you been around him long enough to compare and contrast your style versus his?

I haven't really played with him long enough to even be able to see what he does. I know we throw similar. I don't know if our arm angles are exactly the same, but he's definitely a good pitcher and I hope to learn as much as I can from what he's done.

What does your repertoire consist of?

I usually just throw sinkers and sliders, and I have a changeup that I'll show. I'm definitely a sinker-slider guy that tries to get ahead of hitters and put them away the best I can. I definitely try to fill up the strike zone and let them put it in play.

The sinker-slider combo ... has that been the biggest key to your success this season?

Yeah, definitely. I think down in Double-A, I was throwing a lot of strikes and hopefully I can continue to do that. Getting ahead of guys down there was big. I think as long as I just keep trying to do the same thing that I was doing down there, hopefully I can have success here as well.

Have you always been a sidearm guy?

No, actually when I was drafted and signed, I threw over the top. That was in '99 and I started throwing sidearm in 2002. I got called up to full-season A and pitched one game. I just started working with my pitching coach then and he told me to give it a try. I actually had pretty good success with it, so I stuck with it and it's actually felt more comfortable than it did throwing over the top. ... I started (the switch) in 2002 and I basically missed most of 2003 and '04 from injury (Tommy John Surgery). So it was from about half of 2002, two months in 2003, three weeks in 2004, and then all of 2005 and 2006.

You'd been at Double-A for a couple of years prior to this one. Did you ever ask yourself if you were ever going to get a chance at the next level(s)?

Oh, yeah, you definitely get those feelings, especially in the Southern League where you're going to the same places and the grounds crew people all know you by name. I try to stay inside my own circle of influence. I'm not the one that makes the call when I go up and down, so I try to go out and do what I can on the mound.

In the minor leagues, everyone is always working on something. With your kind of numbers, though, have you had to remind yourself that there's still work to be done?

Absolutely. I want to be more consistent with all of my pitches and I've done a good job of that this year. I definitely want to work on my pickoff move, holding runners, fielding my position and different things like that; things I didn't have a whole lot of chances to work on down in Double-A because I was throwing the ball pretty well and we weren't put into too many situations like that. But there's always room to work on stuff and I'm definitely going to do a lot of work up here.

You also had six saves down in Double-A. Have you thought at all about closing full-time? I know that's usually something that's never really set in stone at these levels.

Oh, yeah, it's something that's never set in stone. Like I said earlier, it's one of those things that's outside of my circle of influence. Certainly if they wanted me to do it, I would. But I'll do whatever they tell me to do.

Down in Tennessee, they called you "Big Nasty." Have you carried that moniker with you to Triple-A?

(laughs) No, not yet. It's probably staying in Double-A. I'm definitely not going to bring it up, up here. I don't know how well that would bode for me.

How did that nickname come about? Did they call you that in the Padres' chain?

I guess a couple of guys that were running the (Tennessee) press box started calling me that. Then the radio guy got wind of it and started calling me that on the radio. That's the story I got from it anyway.

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