MadFriars' Interview: Josh Spence

SAN DIEGO: LHP Josh Spence, 23, was taken in the ninth round of the 2010 draft by the San Diego Padres after being previously selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the twenty-fifth round in 2008 and the Los Angeles Angels in the third round in 2009.

With his promotion to San Diego in late June he became the first of the 2010 class to reach the major leagues.

Spence, a native of Geelong, Australia, went to Central Arizona Junior College and then to Arizona State University. Spence is the classic soft-tossing lefty, rarely reaching speeds above the high 80's but he's also been very effective since coming into pro ball.

This year in AA San Antonio he was 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA, holding the opposition to a .180 batting average. He has been even better in the major leagues with an 0.63 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched only giving up a single earned run.

How did you not end up being a bowler in cricket?

Josh Spence: Cricket was one of the few sports I really didn't play growing up. I played a little basketball and soccer but never really cricket. I always enjoyed watching it and playing it for fun with my friends but never too serious.

The motion never screwed up your shoulder?

Josh Spence: Actually its a bit like throwing a softball. It actually helps your shoulder.

How popular is baseball in Australia?

Josh Spence: America and Australia are very passionate about their sports but Australian athletes tend to gravitate towards Australian sports. Baseball is probably not going to take off in the future but the National League just started up and hopefully that will help it out some.

If you have T-ball it must be a pretty well developed community?

Josh Spence: Its not too bad. You play at the grass-roots for fun and as you get older more of your friends begin to transition to other sports.

It seems like it is a pretty tight community..

Josh Spence: That is a good way to put it tight, not big, but tight.

You go over to Arizona to play in the states from a country that is not known for baseball and not being able to throw in the 90's. How did you convince people you were as good as you have turned out to be?

Josh Spence: Honestly I am still trying to convince people. That is a good question. I've been blessed with some people that have been able to look past my velocity and give me a chance.

At ASU were you mainly a starter or did you come out of the bullpen?

Josh Spence: I would start and came out of the pen two or three times.

So you have found your niche coming out of the pen in middle relief, how has that transition been for you?

Josh Spence: I am just lucky that in the minors I was put in the minors on a good team and given some opportunities. But until this year I hadn't really been given that many chances. The Padres did a great job of not giving me too much of a workload after my elbow.

I always told them I wanted to get to the majors anyway I can as quickly as I can. It didn't matter if I started or came out of the pen.

How has your injury affected you? You sat out all of 2010 with elbow problems at ASU, have you come back stronger?

Josh Spence: I'm not sure if I have come back stronger but the experience has definitely helped me to know what my strengths and weaknesses are and how to take care of my body better.

What I need to do to get ready to play everyday. It really sucked sitting out especially after turning down a decent opportunity to play with the Angels. Looking back it was the best thing for me. I learned quite a bit on and off the field.

As with many Australians you come off as very modest and self-deprecating, but for someone who throws in the mid-80s in the big leagues you have to be pretty confident in your abilities.

Josh Spence: You have to be aggressive and throw strikes. I know its a cliche but honestly that is what I try to do. I am confident in my abilities and trying to prove it to people every time I go out.

This year your numbers are actually better against right-handers. Could you give us an idea of what you throw?

Josh Spence: I throw a two-seam, a slurve and a slider.

What is the biggest thing you are going to try to do to stay at this level?

Josh Spence: Hopefully they will just keep giving me the ball and I will make the most of my opportunities. Everything I've done as a professional, my off-season work, spring training and playing in San Antonio really helped me.

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