I had gone through Spring Training with the Dodgers and it was getting down to the final day, and there was a list of players that were supposed to report to the manager's office. I was the first one in and Jim Tracy said, "No, Schmoll, we want you to wait until the end." So I went back outside and waited while 10 or 15 guys went through there, and then I walk in. It's Tracy, [GM] Paul DePodesta and [assistant GM] Kim Ng. Paul asks me, "Do you feel like you can pitch at the big league level?" So I said I feel like I could pitch anywhere, as long as I make my pitches, I can get anybody out. It doesn't matter what level you put me at. And Paul said, "That's what we think too. You can start here in L.A."
So you weren't even thinking about making the Majors in camp?
I was figuring Double-A or maybe Triple-A, because I hadn't been invited to major league camp. But by the same token, I felt like during the end of 2004, I started getting comfortable and I could get anyone out, no matter who I was facing.
You have a new motion this spring, tweaked a little bit by Rick Peterson. What's different?
Well, I'm still coming from the side, but instead of starting with my hands up by my chest, I start a little lower toward the belt and I'm not as tight. It makes me more relaxed. I used to be so tense. I've been doing it for a few weeks and all I know is that I feel like I'm comfortable. It'll be good. We'll see.
You were a little bit of a late bloomer at University of Maryland, weren't you?
Oh yeah. I was a fifth-year senior, and when you're in that situation, you can sign with whatever team you want to sign, as opposed to being drafted and having to sign with whatever team takes you. It gives you a leg up. Otherwise, anyone who decides to draft you could say, "Here's a hamburger. Sign." And you take it. It was unfortunate I'd never been drafted before in my life, but in that case, it was fortunate because I got to sign with the team I wanted to sign with.
Would you have signed for that hamburger?
I would have signed for anything. But the most interested teams were the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox and Blue Jays. But I felt like of those four, the Dodgers always had a great history of pitchers and I would have the best opportunity to learn there. It's funny how things happen for a reason. Then I end up here [with the Mets] and I get to learn from [Rick] Peterson, who's probably one of the best pitching coaches in baseball.