Prospect Q&A: Paul Oseguera

When the Giants took lefty Paul Oseguera in the 16th round of the 2006 draft, he was something of an unknown commodity because multiple arm surgeries had limited him to just 52 innings of work in his career at UCLA. But the lefty was healthy last year and made an impressive showing converting from relief to the starting role for San Jose. We talk with the Oseguera about what this year will bring.

Q:Last year was your first full season in the organization and they asked you to make a pretty big transition to starting. What did you focus on to make that work?
Paul Oseguera: They let me know with just a few weeks left of spring training. They approached me and just asked me if I was comfortable with that and if I'd like to give that a try, and I told them I'd absolutely like to do that.
The main thing I was worried about was trying to get my body and arm used to throwing that many innings. And also, just knowing that I would face hitters not just one time through, but I'd have to face them three or four times possibly. So it was just trying to make that adjustment of not exerting myself too much in the beginning of the game and to try and stay as calm as possible so I knew that, later in a game whenever things started to get more and more tight, I'd be able to get guys out.

Q: Overall, you had a very impressive season, posting a 3.54 ERA over 157 innings in San Jose. However, it looked like you really wore down at the end of the season. Was that just from throwing so many innings?
Oseguera: The last time I was a full-time starter was my junior year of high school and that was before I started having arm problems. I hadn't thrown that much in years. So, at the end, I started to feel a little bit tired, but I didn't feel like that was the reason I was not having success. It wasn't until the very end – in the postseason against Lake Elsinore Storm was one of the first times I felt I really was tired. I just felt like I didn't have any energy left.

Q: Having worked so much through the year, what was your off-season like?
Oseguera: When I got home, I just didn't pick up a ball for a while and kind of took my time and let my body recover. I was happy with being able to finish the season, but at the same time, I wasn't happy that I wasn't able to finish strong. In every sport, that's the big key – being able to be there for your teammates, whenever they need you or your coach calls on you, so I wasn't too happy with the fact that I wasn't able to finish stronger.
I was up at UCLA. [Coach Savage] makes all the facilities available for some of the guys who played in the past. I was working out with a couple of old teammates.

Q: And the obvious question for anyone who's had as many surgeries as you; how does your arm feel now?
Oseguera: I was real happy with how this offseason and how spring training has gone so far. Compared to last season when I first picked up the ball again and started throwing, my arm just felt stiff and I had to loosen up quite a bit before I started feeling more comfortable. This offseason wasn't like that. When I picked up a ball, my arm felt rested and ready to go.
I've had so many arm issues in the past, there were a couple of games where I felt like, ‘wow, I haven't felt like that in a long time.' But at the same time, there were certain days where I felt like ‘Man, I've had some surgeries and I've got to push through this stuff.' I'm really hoping that this year will be the year where I can say all that stuff is in the past and my arm feels like I can handle anything.

Q: Moving to the starting role, being able to command your offspeed stuff becomes even more important. How is your change feeling?
Oseguera: For me, it's always been if I don't have one pitch, the other two better be real good, and the change is definitely one of those for me. I feel like I have to be able to throw it at all times, any count. If I'm able to throw it when I'm behind in the count or ahead, it's got to be there.
That was one of the big things Coach Savage emphasized when I was playing at UCLA – being able to throw a change-up left-on-left and any time in the count. That was something when I got drafted that I felt I had in my pocket, from being used to Coach Savage's views and using that pitch in college, and I was able to transfer that into minor league ball too.

Q: That said, lefties actually hit you a little better than righties last year.
Oseguera: For me, my biggest problem is my curveball has actually been the last pitch to really come through from all my surgeries. Obviously, lefties are looking for that curve ball when they're behind in the count. So sometimes, if I'm not able to throw that pitch, I found that if I was ahead and now I find myself behind in the count, it shows that I wasn't able to show my curve ball where I need to, so they were able to sit on my other pitches a lot better. That's something I've got to work on as a pitcher.

Q: After the success of last year, what are you looking to focus on this year?
Oseguera: Individually, the one thing I'm trying to work for is just to be a little bit stronger with everything. Last year, I was glad I was able to throw that many innings and start that many games, but at the same time, I felt that I wasn't strong toward the end of the season. One big thing is I want to try to be as strong as I can be the whole time. Plus, that first season, you're getting used to dealing with the workload. After that, I feel I'm a little bit smarter going in on what I should be able to do training-wise. I would like to make sure I do my part and be ready for whatever the coaches need me to do.

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