Q&A: Brian Bannister

Mets rookie pitcher Brian Bannister made it back from a late April hamstring injury to rejoin the team for the September pennant drive, and was in the mix as the team sprayed Champagne all over Shea Stadium. Now in the bullpen, he discussed that special night and the situation of not having a clearly defined role with Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch:

It's been an interesting year for you after opening the season in the rotation. Considering where you've been, what was it like to be part of the Mets' division clincher Monday at Shea Stadium?

Even though I missed out on a good portion of this year, my rookie year, I wanted to enjoy the celebration and try to be a part of it as much as I could. It was a great moment, and you never know if you're going to have another chance like that one, because nobody can tell what the future holds. I could never have another celebration like that in my career; who knows? I felt I could appreciate it because I did contribute to helping the team to where it is today. It's been fun while I've been up here.

Was there a sense of trying to enjoy the moment, but perhaps not getting out of hand?

You know, I didn't feel completely alienated from the team like some of the younger guys. It was much more of a sense of trying to enjoy the moment for what it was, and to get a hold of that experience to hang onto forever. Like I said, who knows, that could be the last time I ever get a chance to see something like that. I wanted to be able to look back on it.

Do you have a favorite memory that you'll hold from the celebration?

Yeah, I would say running in from the bullpen, through the outfield and reaching the pile in the middle of the field, jumping up and down with the team and seeing the genuine excitement on everybody's face. Being a part of that felt great and it was worth the wait.

Since you mentioned it, how is your transition to life in the bullpen coming along?

It is tough adjusting because I don't have a clearly defined role, so it's different from when I started. I know that they don't have huge expectations for me, so it's more that any time a situation or opportunity comes along, I'll try to get my work in and do as much as I can, and just be ready for when that chance comes. I'm planning on playing winter ball this year, so I'm preparing for the mindset and getting ready to contribute as much as I can. It's my first time in the big leagues in September, and you don't get that experience all that often.

Is there part of you that is already looking forward to winter ball, as a stepping stone for the 2007 rotation, or is your focus still on the 2006 Mets?

I'm definitely enjoying this moment and trying to soak up some experience. I know I'm able to contribute at the major league level, so I can try and control my pitches and what I do, and I could be called upon to pitch at any moment. I'm here to be a good teammate and improve in any way I can, and just make sure my ability is there to help. I'm really looking forward to the chance of being a part of this team not only next year, but beyond.

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