MadFriars Q&A: James Darby

Non-conventional, perhaps he is. Effective, only when the ball goes over the plate. After just turning 21, James Darby still has plenty of time to develop. After all, he has only been pitching for three years after making the transition from softball. sits down for a chat with the former underhander. You've kept the hitters pretty much off the base paths unless you hit them. When you hit Trey Hendricks (Arizona prospect playing for Yakima), word is you were pretty down about it.

James Darby: Yeah, it's one of those things when you don't mean to hit a guy and you hit him in the head. I was just shaken up a little bit, it was the first time I hit somebody in the head pretty hard. It was a decent fastball, too. It's kind of scary when they take a step toward first base and then collapse. But I got over that by the next day and got ready to go again. You get after it. It's not something that can bother you too much, it's worse if you can't keep up at the end of the year, and I've just got to work on that. Talk a little about your repertoire. Are you throwing 98 miles per hour and just have a tough time controlling it?

James Darby: I'm basically a submariner, just struggling with the out spot right now and moving the ball around. When my arm comes down a little too low, that's when I yank the ball into the left-hander's batter's box. Right-handers don't have too much to worry about. It's the left-handers who have got to watch out. What kind of pitches to do you throw with that submarine there?

James Darby: I pitch between 83 and 93. I vary the speed on my fastball a lot and I throw a slider, too. I have a change-up as well, but lately in this time of year I just throw my fastball all day. You know it's coming and I throw it for strikes, so they rarely get hits. Just based on your arm angle, is it hard to see the ball? You're on the other side of it, but as a batter do you think it's harder to see the ball because you hide it a little bit longer?

James Darby: I think I hide the ball pretty well and I moved to the third base side of the rubber and the amount of angle I create—I'm six foot three, six foot four, and have pretty long arms, so the angle I create coming from behind the right-hander and from so far outside the left-hander, it's difficult for them to pick it up. And just the fact that I'm throwing 83 right down the middle and the next pitch can be 93 right down the middle, so you don't really know what's coming and it sucks for the other team, you know? Some of them take huge hacks and hit it pretty good, but the defense will pick me up. Who's generally catching you when you're out there? Is it tough to catch you?

James Darby: A lot of catchers have had a bit of trouble with me. The ball runs and sinks a lot, too, and it's kind of inconsistent sometimes: sometimes it will be a little bit flatter and sometimes it will really, really sink. Colt Morton catches for me a little more often. He's got a great glove and is good defensively behind the plate, so it gives me someone to throw to. So when you're playing catch do you throw it sidearm or do you throw it overhand?

James Darby: I throw sidearm everywhere; across the diamond and anywhere I throw the ball, I throw sidearm. That's crazy. How does that develop? When you were younger, or where was it?

James Darby: Three years ago I'd never played baseball before. Wow. What are you, twenty-one?

James Darby: Yeah, I was a fast-pitch softballer and I was a pitcher, so I very rarely throw overhand. I threw underhand probably five or six hundred pitches a week. They signed me and I started playing outfield and just a regular over-the-top throwing pitcher and I was topping out at 90 or 92, which is pretty hard for an eighteen-year-old pitcher. I came over to America and they turned me into an outfielder. I played outfield for about a month, and then Tom Brown, the team's general manager at the time, got me to drop down off the mound once, and I threw pretty hard, and that was the end of it. It was just a thing that somebody asked me to do and it worked. That's funny. Do you ever wish you were hitting again?

James Darby: Some days you wish you hit, but I enjoy pitching. I like being able to go out and compete every day. I sort of enjoy pitching more because that's what I did in softball.

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