Q&A: Mitch Wylie

If Mitch Wylie makes the Mets out of Spring Training, it would mark a transition from the independent leagues to the Major Leagues. The 28-year-old righthander -- who pitched in five games for the Sioux City Explorers last season -- was selected by New York in the Rule V Draft from the San Francisco Giants in December.

Let's go into a little background about last season - where were you, what happened, and how did you wind up pitching in the independent leagues?

Last year I started off and went to Spring Training with the White Sox, but it was pretty crowded over there. I took my release with them, and instead of sitting home on the couch, I played independent ball [with the Sioux City Explorers] for five starts. It was about three hours from my house, and after there, I got picked up by the San Francisco Giants system and did real well.

What was it like pitching down in the independent leagues?

I have to say, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I got a good opportunity, I got to start down there coming off an arm injury the year before, and it was a great opportunity to get some innings in. If I went home and sat on the couch after Spring Training, I don't know if I'd be [with the Mets] right now. I don't know if the phone ever would have rang. It gave me an opportunity to get back in the game.

What was the arm problem you had?

I had a shoulder problem in 2003, and 2004 was like the recovery period and I struggled a little bit. I came into Spring Training and it wasn't all together, but I could tell in my arm that something good was happening. I could feel the scar tissue breaking up and I knew something good was happening, but I didn't know what to do with it. My control wasn't quite there, but the five starts of independent ball kind of started it again and broke up the scar tissue. I started to get command of my fastball, slider and change-up, and just went from there.

You probably knew you weren't protected by the Giants in the Rule V Draft. Were you surprised to be taken by the Mets?

I was, to be honest with you. I didn't even think about the Rule V Draft because the year before, I was an unrestricted free agent which made me ineligible for the Rule V Draft. I guess I just assumed again I'd be ineligible. My agent called at 1:30 in the morning one day, so I knew something had happened - I just didn't know what. I found out the next day and I was surprised, excited and ready to go.

What was the day after the draft like? Which team executives did you hear from, and what was your impression?

It went real smooth. The next day after it happened, Omar [Minaya] gave me a call and said, 'Welcome aboard.' I felt like I fit in right away. I came down to the mini-camp and felt like I fit in right away with the guys. It's going real smooth so far.

How do you consider yourself as a pitcher at this stage in your career? Are you strictly a reliever right now?

I used to start, and I consider myself both. I can start, throw in relief, long relief, short relief. That's why I think I'm a valuable arm in the bullpen, because I can spot start, I've done relief, and I even closed last year and had two saves. As far as that goes, I can do pretty much anything.

Have you spoken with Willie Randolph or Rick Peterson about what they might be looking for you to do this spring?

I talked with Rick [Peterson] and it was just pretty basic stuff - here's what we're doing coming in, and get ready to go. We'll just go from there.

Editor's Note: As a Rule V Draft selection, Wylie must be kept on the Mets' 25-man roster through the regular season or be offered back to the Giants for $25,000 - half the purchase price of a player's contract in the draft.

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