Q&A with Greg Reinhard

To start or not to start is the question that often faces many pitchers in a team's farm system, and Cubs pitching prospect Greg Reinhard was no exception in 2007.

To be sure, Reinhard wouldn't mind doing either. He's done both in his brief professional career, which started in 2005 after he was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the sixth round of that year's draft.

After making 26 starts and logging 142 innings with Class Low-A Southwest Michigan in 2006, Reinhard began '07 in the bullpen – at Double-A.

Despite just two sub-par outings in 20 appearances with Tennessee, it wasn't enough to keep Reinhard from going down to Class High-A Daytona.

But the move from Class AA ball to High-A wasn't meant as a demotion. Reinhard was going down to make a return to starting.

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This past season, you began the year in the bullpen. How difficult was it to get back into a starter's mindset after you spent two months or so in relief?

GREG REINHARD: I guess when I went to [Daytona], it was definitely a struggle. I think when I was in Tennessee I was just starting to get the hang of it (relieving) the last month I was there. By the numbers you could tell I was starting to figure it out. Then I got sent down to Florida. I had some good starts down there; some really good ones but some that were really bad. In that aspect it was frustrating, but I did get some things accomplished. I started throwing the changeup more, and I feel better having gone through what I did this year. I feel I've definitely progressed as a pitcher.

A look at your individual starts reveals a small handful of bad outings. Do you feel numbers don't always tell the full story of the work you achieve?

GREG REINHARD: I guess I would agree with that. I had the start in Vero Beach where the wind was swirling out and I gave up five or six in two-thirds of an inning. Going into that start, I was a sub-three ERA and felt good about the way I was pitching. After that, I'm a six or five-something. I think I had a bunch of starts where I was out after two innings and that's not going to do any good for your numbers. But I did get four wins there and had some really good starts and then some average starts so I was all right with it. I would say the numbers don't tell the whole story.

When we first talked to you back in February or whenever, you'd said that the Devil Rays had sort of changed up your pitches from what you threw in college. How much if at all did the Cubs change you up and change the pitches you threw?

GREG REINHARD: When I was in Tennessee, I was throwing cutters. When I went down to Florida, I stopped throwing them. They wanted me to focus on throwing the changeup and the curveball more. The Cubs didn't change much. This off-season, I think I'm making an effort to make sure that my off-speed stuff is consistent going in. I went in this year not quite with the feel of it because it was still fairly new. I definitely want it to be ready for Spring Training and for next season.

It sounds like you needed to focus more on off-speed work than with fastball work.

GREG REINHARD: At some points during the season, I would get caught having to live on that fastball and end up overthrowing it. As you move up levels, you need to be able to pitch backward when you need to or throw a big breaking pitch or off-speed pitch when you need to. I don't think I always had that this year.

Were you pleased with the development of the cutter when you were working on it and will you go back to it at some point?

GREG REINHARD: I think I will. When I got home, I played catch a couple of days and started throwing it. I think this off-season I'm going to work on the curveball and the changeup first, but will definitely keep throwing the cutter. I think it can be a good pitch down the road – something I don't want to just throw away.

Would you say it was disheartening to be sent down to High A even though you knew it was because they wanted you to start again?

GREG REINHARD: I think Pat Listach and Dennis Lewallyn both did a great job when they told me they wanted me to know that it wasn't a demotion; that it was better for the long term of my career to go and be a starter down in Florida. I'm hoping they were right and I think they were. It gave me a lot more time to develop and hopefully next year if I can go to Double-A out of spring training, I'll be more ready than I was last year. I think there were times when I was down there and I was disappointed. There were times where we didn't play very good baseball (in Daytona) and it's never fun to be in that environment. Tennessee was such a fun time because it was a great team up there and look at how many guys went to the big leagues from there. The worst thing was I'd just gotten comfortable in Tennessee.

When you said, "I'll be more ready than I was last year," do you mean ready as in ready to start or being in good physical shape ready?

GREG REINHARD: I just meant that I think I'll be a better pitcher going to Tennessee next year than I was last year. I think I've gotten better.

You also were skipped a level at the beginning when you joined the Cubs' system.

GREG REINHARD: Yeah, and in Tampa Bay's system it was pretty much 100 percent sure that you were going one level at a time. I was shocked in spring training – I shouldn't say shocked – I was pumped in spring training to be on that Double-A roster. When I got sent down, in a way it was a little disappointing because I wanted to stick it out in Double-A the whole year and do some good things, but at the same time it was exactly where I would have headed up with Tampa.

You really only had a couple of bad outings in Double-A. How much of that did you attribute to your learning curve and above all just the simple art of getting your arm back under you?

GREG REINHARD: It's frustrating because if you were to look at the numbers, I was giving up so many runs and I think probably two-thirds of them came in two outings. I just got exploded on twice in that first month – that first series in Jacksonville and later on against Mobile I believe. That's frustrating because early in the season you put yourself in that hole. Whether or not I was ready to pitch against Double-A guys – and I think I was – there's a learning curve in Double-A. It's a different world than Single-A and I think everyone has a little bump along the road, and I found it early.

We understand you're in classes right now at Wisconsin-Whitewater. What's your major?

GREG REINHARD: My major is History with my minor in Finance.

How generous are the Cubs about letting you do stuff like classes in the off-season?

GREG REINHARD: They didn't really say anything this year. I didn't have any obligations in the fall except to get ready for next year.

How many people recognize you on campus?

GREG REINHARD: There are still a handful of people here when I played here so I still have a good group of friends. I was sitting in class the other day and some guy was talking about the Cubs and how he thought some guy from Whitewater played with the Cubs. He eventually realized it was me after they called my name during attendance or whatever. There's definitely a turnover in college so there's not nearly as many people as I used to know here.


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