ST Interview: T.J. Weir

PEORIA, AZ. - Kokomo High School’s T.J. Weir, 23, who was both a star pitcher and shortstop at Ball State University, is attempting to make the transition to a full-time professional pitcher with his hometown Fort Wayne TinCaps.

An 17th round draft pick by the San Diego Padres, Weir was the best starter on the Rookie League Arizona Padres, a team that frequently plays night games in the stifling heat of the Phoenix summer. In 12 games and 21.2 innings in both a starting and relief roles, he held the opposition to a .151 batting average with a 24/6 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio.

At an even six feet Weir is not the biggest guy in the world, particularly for a pitcher, but the former Cardinals did finish last year with 117 strikeouts in 99.2 innings which was good enough for 9th in the country although his batting average did slump to .202 in his senior year after the shortstop hit .284 in his junior season.

Because he threw nearly a 100 innings in college the Padres limited him to only two innings an outing, but they still liked what they saw.

“We like him as a starter but had to limit his innings because of how much he threw in college, said former Padres’ Director of Development Randy Smith at the end of last year. “T.J. has a good feel for what he is doing on the mound and I look forward to seeing what he can do in outings that are longer than two inning stints.”

As Weir embarks on his first full season of professional baseball he is doing whatever it takes to continue to live his dream. We caught up with him between workouts at the Padres’ Spring Training Complex to talk about his transition from college to the pros.

You went to the rookie Arizona League out of Ball State and put together a really good year. What was the biggest thing that you took away from that experience?

T.J. Weir: My approach to the game especially since I was concentrating solely on pitching after being a two-way player in college.

I was on an innings limit so I had a lot of time to work on the mental side of the game. How I would attack hitters in certain situations, what type of pitch I would throw in a certain count.

You were so busy in college did you ever find that you had too much time on your hands?

T.J. Weir: It was tough. I was used to the days that I was not pitching playing shortstop, DH or even just taking batting practice. Now it was just shagging and hanging out and watching the game.

Weir was a two-way player at Ball State. (Ball State)

It was a little different culture, but I did all right with it.

How did you deal with the summer in Phoenix after coming from summers in Indiana?

T.J. Weir: {laughing} It was tough. We played 7:00 PM games and it was 110 degrees so that was a whole different animal particularly with the 3:00 PM workouts. You get used to it because it is a dry heat, but still it’s tough.

It took a few weeks.

Did any part of your training differ this off-season after your pro experience?

T.J. Weir: Yes, I took a few months off of throwing which I had never done in the past. That was the biggest thing just the off time. Also you wanted to get away from the mental side of the game a little to take a break so you could be fresh for the next year.

Where do you see your future? As a starter or coming out of the pen?

T.J. Weir: At this point, I don’t really know. I did both in college and the Padres have told they like that type of versatility. Here in Spring Training everyone is getting a few innings here and there. So I don’t really know my role.

Would your preference be to come out of the bullpen because it is a type of everyday role?

T.J. Weir: I’m not sure. In college when I came out of the bullpen it was usually when I was playing shortstop so I would just take a few warm-ups throws from the mound and get to it. Here it was a little different warming up in the bullpen.

What do you throw?

T.J. Weir: Fastball, slider and change-up. With a mix of four and two-seam fastballs.

Do you find yourself going by the bat rack waiting for your turn to hit?

T.J. Weir: {laughs} We joke about that here. We have a few guys that were two-way players in college and we might have our chances later on in AA. Hopefully, I can show that I still have it.

What is your biggest goal coming into this year?

T.J. Weir: Just to be a true professional on and off the field. More so off the field because I think people can get away from what they are supposed to be doing because you have so much free time.

On the field I want to break with a full-season club and have an opportunity to compete at higher levels.

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