Padres Interview: Blaine Neal Q&A

Blaine Neal has been with the San Diego Padres since mid-June and has found a nice role in the bullpen rotation with the club. The former Florida Marlin came over to the Friars in an April deal that sent Ben Howard eastward.

Having pitched in 25 games with the Padres and holding an ERA around 3.00, are you still trying to prove yourself to this club?

Blaine Neal: I think so. I think you are always trying to prove yourself to anybody, the organization, other people. I think every time you go out to the mound you try to do that.

You had elbow surgery this offseason, what did that entail and any lasting effects that may have slowed you down this year?

Blaine Neal: Yeah. I had four or five bone chips and a couple spurs. It was minor but there was some stuff in there.

So far everything has been pretty good. I think my arm is working a lot better than it did last year so I think it has helped out a lot.

Are you comfortable in your role now as a middle reliever where in the past you have for the most part been a closer?

Blaine Neal: To be honest with you I think any reliever pitching the middle innings isn't the funnest thing. That is what they want me to do and I have no problem doing it. I think if you are going to be a reliever, the only way to get in good situations and to be in those tough situations is to close.

Is that a mental thing. In other words, you are most comfortable in that role so it suits you best?

Blaine Neal: I just know I like to be there in the end in pressure situations.

Since coming over to the Padres, have they asked you to change anything with your style or add another pitch to your arsenal?

Blaine Neal: The only thing is to throw one or two innings and to allow me to throw my changeup a little more than usual. That has helped out a lot and developed a little bit more.

You ever wish you were still playing first base?

Blaine Neal: Not really. With the success I have pitching, not really. That was a fun season, even though I struggled a little bit, that was a fun season getting to play everyday.

They still let you take the occasional batting practice?

Blaine Neal: Once in a while. I don't need to do anything stupid hitting now. I haven't gotten an at bat in a game so it is really not worth it.

Do you have any superstitions?

Blaine Neal: I have some routines, but nothing really superstitious if I didn't do that would upset me.

Who has been most supportive of your career, one that has found you in the Big Leagues, back in the minors and in the Big Leagues again?

Blaine Neal: Everyone I have played with and my parents, mostly my parents.

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