Padres prospect interview: Chris Oxspring

Chris Oxspring has been tabbed as a future Major Leaguer by scouts and the Padres front office. To get that Big League callup, he knows what he has to do and it has nothing to do with his slider, called the best in the system by <i>Baseball America</i> today. What is the key to your overall success and eventual inclusion on the San Diego Padres 24 man roster?

Chris Oxspring: Just attacking the strike zone early in the count, not falling behind early on. I was trying to get around not walking people all the time. I had a bad thing my whole career. Every outing I have had I walk someone. I rarely go an outing without walking somebody.

I was getting in there and attacking the strike zone and get guys out early in the count while trying to go deeper in the game with less of a pitch count instead of trying to strike everyone out.

It is just something that has been there in my whole career. I will go three perfect innings and come out in the fourth inning and walk the leadoff batter on four straight pitches. You get flustered with yourself because you know on any given day you can be in the strike zone whenever you want to and then not be able to strike to anybody. It is frustrating and hard to fathom. In 2004, it seemed that when you faltered, it was in one inning that the damage occurred and then you settled down and went back to business.

Chris Oxspring: That is the other thing that I do is once I get a runner on, I try and get too fine and too perfect instead of attacking the strike zone and letting them get out. Things like that build up and instead of getting out of it with one hit let up you end up giving up one or two runs and it has a snowball effect for the rest of that inning. I settle back down and go back out and I am fine. The other abnormality that seems to happen with you is giving up the long ball. It isn't something that happens often but when it does it generally comes in bunches. How do you explain that?

Chris Oxspring: I gave up three to Sacramento – three solo homers earlier in the year. That was the first run of home runs I had given up all season. Then I went a while without giving up some and then Sacramento again I gave up two home runs. Sacramento got me the last time for two home runs. I don't know if it was something about them or if it just comes around every once and a while when you give them up in a bunch.

I generally keep the ball off the good part of the bat but when I am off, I am off. The same thing happened in the playoffs for Portland, the Padres Triple-A affiliate. How did that come about?

Chris Oxspring: Two hanging breaking balls cost me two home runs. Two bad pitches and the guys hit them. At this level you cant make those bad pitches because those guys are going to get you.

It is just something small. I cannot put my finger on exactly what it is but I guess just having confidence in myself and being able to throw any pitch that I want in any count to any hitter and know it is good enough to get a guy out. That has been my biggest problem and has been my biggest problem for a long time. Was playoff action something new to you?

Chris Oxspring: I was in the playoffs in Lake Elsinore. I pitched in the Olympics this year and have pitched in Championship games before so it was nothing new to me. Pretty disappointing the effort I put in. The new season is almost upon us. What is the goal going into spring training with the Padres?

Chris Oxspring: I just want to show people what I know I can do. People foresee me being a Major League pitcher and you have to confidence in yourself to prove that you can be but I just want to show everyone that I am good enough to be there and when I show them hopefully they will think I am good enough to be there. Will it be a slap in the face if the Padres send you back to Portland for 2005?

Chris Oxspring: No, definitely not. It shows me I still have to work on things and I will go to Portland and learn to become a better pitcher and mature. To me, that just shows me I still need to learn and get better. I will improve on what I need to improve upon and hopefully step up to the next level. Do you feel that the proverbial "window" is closing because you started late and are a little older than some other "prospects"?

Chris Oxspring: People say that a lot. At my age and getting to Major Leagues – next year if I get there I will be 28 – it kind of is a little bit old to be getting there. I may be immature in the baseball sense. I am more mature as a person and can handle setbacks and the good stuff in the same token and hopefully stay there.

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