Q&A with Aaron Shafer

The Chicago Cubs' third overall pick (second round) from Wichita State in the 2008 draft, Aaron Shafer put together a solid debut professional season this past summer. The right-hander finished with a 3.09 ERA in eight appearances spanning 32 innings at Class Low-A Boise, striking out 24 batters and holding opponents to a .231 average against.

Did you do a lot of pitching while you were in Instructs?

AARON SHAFER: I only had a couple of outings there and I was pretty much done after that.

Was that by design? Did the team decide that?

AARON SHAFER: Yeah, that was [Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark] Riggins' decision. I had a lot of innings and they were satisfied with the work I got in.

How would you rate your first season or half-season in pro ball?

AARON SHAFER: I thought I did well and made some adjustments mechanically that they wanted me to make in just making my delivery (easier). I spent the summer working on that and I think I had a pretty good summer; nothing special, but I made some improvements that I needed to make. I feel like I did well and had a good summer.

I enjoyed the guys and the teammates that I met. We had a good group of guys in Boise and it was fun because everybody is from different places. Everybody has different backgrounds, but everybody had that common ground that we're all ballplayers, we're all trying to make it and we're all looking for that edge. It was really cool to be a part of something like that, where everyone is really driven about what they're doing.

Going back to mechanics, what specifically did you work on to make your delivery easier?

AARON SHAFER: One of the main things was getting to where I wasn't popping my head. I had a tendency to jerk my head [when he threw] and what that does is put more stress on your throwing arm. So basically I was trying to calm that down and stay together better, and it makes the delivery easier all the way around. It wasn't a really big adjustment; it was just something they saw and wanted me to work on. It took a lot of time to get it right because it was something I'd done for so long that I was used to throwing like that.

Can you give us an example of exactly what you were doing before?

AARON SHAFER: At the release point, my head would be kind of cocked off and turned to the side rather than being straight ahead and looking at the target. What that did, my front arm would pull and my front arm and right shoulder were complete opposites, and it was basically just leaving my right shoulder out to dry. It was a minor mechanical thing, nothing huge. I just worked on that and what it did was allow me to have even better command of all of my pitches.

Did you work on anything specific pitch-wise with your off-speed or breaking stuff?

AARON SHAFER: I just tried to do the same stuff that I had been doing. They seemed to think everything was fine as far as stuff goes. Like I said, I just worked on mechanics and learning the sequences and stuff of pitching. I talked to pitching coaches about how to work certain guys and certain types of hitters.

Did you find it was tough to come back from the couple of weeks off right after your college season ended?

AARON SHAFER: That was definitely tough. That was the hardest part I think. I shouldn't have taken that time off because I kind of got a little dead-arm coming back.

How long did the dead-arm sit with you?

AARON SHAFER: It's never too bad. You can still throw; it's just one of those things where the life isn't really there and you don't really have what you used to have as far as your fastball and maybe the snap on your curveball. It only lasted one or two starts and it was over with. It's just one of those things you hate dealing with. All it amounts to is a little annoyance.

We asked you about your off-speed and breaking stuff earlier. What are you most comfortable throwing with those pitches?

AARON SHAFER: I just throw a curveball as far as a breaking ball and a palm-ball as a changeup. They're working pretty well.

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