He ended his year with a 7.71 ERA in Cal League play, 4.98 if you take out the eight run pounding. He allowed a run in each of his last eight regular season games and in 11-of-17 on the season.
Talk about coming back from injury and how you have faced each of the challenges it holds:
Ryan Klatt: It has been a lot of changes mentally for me. I am still an intense person but the biggest thing this year was learning the whole idea of patience – what people have told me since I was ten years old and all of a sudden it comes out. I understood what patience was. When people said be patient you just waited for an answer. I thought that was being complacent. Now I realize being patient means you understand everything from a big picture perspective. It is like pointillism, you look at a picture up close and it doesn't make sense and you step back and it comes into focus.
How do you combat the times where you may not have your best stuff?
Ryan Klatt: I have had a couple of rough outings. Aside from that one outing against High Desert (eight runs), my ERA has been just under 4.00 other than that game. When I take a step back I realize a 4.00 ERA out here (in the California League) is respectable. All in all, out of the 15-20 pitches I throw in an inning I am very pleased with 14 or 19 of them. Usually there is one pitch and sometimes it is a little up, hits a little too much plate (and hit the ball hard). And I expect that because it is a higher level. Not because it is the Cal League but these guys are better. I have to realize that if I am successful 90-95 percent of the time right now that is something, not only to be happy about compared to everyone else because I never wanted my rehab to be like everyone else. If I wanted that I would have come back in 12 months instead of ten. I have to understand that there is no reason to completely break myself down and be my own worst enemy at a time when I need to mentally come back. It is not just the physical surgery. It gets in your head too. It has been really rough for me to realize that I am coming back in two different ways.
That mental barrier – when do you breakthrough and reach the other side where you look forward to your next outing?
Ryan Klatt: I had to realize that there were some days before the surgery that I had bad days. Everybody on the outside looking in is saying, ‘it is probably because of his rehab.' Well, sometimes you just do (badly).
Mentally I take a step everyday. Some days I feel really good and say, ‘this is the day that it starts.' And the next time I come out there the fastball command is not there. So, I realized that isn't the day that is starts. I keep taking little steps in every facet of the game. I haven't fully come back yet. What I am looking at now is not necessarily coming back to where I was – I am back on the journey of being a better player. Before I had the surgery I wanted to be a big league player. Now I am trying to be that and not "old Ryan". Because "Old Ryan" would have been in Low-A and Rookie ball. The stuff I had there probably wouldn't play at the Double-A level. I am starting to slowly realize I am a new pitcher now. Mentally, everyday is something new. Some days I feel great. Some days I feel not so good.
Do you feel like you have your full arsenal back at your disposal?
Ryan Klatt: There are days where my velocity is up a little bit from last year. And there are days where my control is a little more fine-tuned. I understand that I have to stay controlled within the zone and when I make a mistake I try to miss over here. Some days my slider is sharper but there are some days where the velocity and control isn't there.
Did it seem as though your secondary pitches were a little slower in returning?
Ryan Klatt: Recently, I have felt really comfortable with my off-speed pitches. My slider is finally taking a turn and that has been a two-year process. I was working on my slider in Idaho (Falls) and Fort Wayne. Things that Razor (pitching coach Dave Rajisch) was telling me last year, all of a sudden does make sense. This has allowed me a lot of time to work on mechanics. Having better mechanics has better enabled me to start my slider off. My fastball – I am still in love with that pitch. Low and away. When that thing is on, I love that thing. Right now I feel really good about my off-speed. Two months ago, I would have never had said that.
What do you expect the off-season will be like?
Ryan Klatt: I talked to Razor about a throwing programs and what I am going to do. I know how to mentally approach that. There is a purpose with every throw. Now I know what to feel for in my arm and my body. Because before mechanics didn't really make a lot of sense to me. Now I have some lingo to attach to the feelings I have in my body. I think the throwing part will be a little more specific. As far as working out, every year I think I have worked as hard as I could and I think back on how I could have worked harder. So as much as I think I sold my soul this past off-season to come back, I realized I will be a bigger Nazi this year. I plan on taking myself as far as I can physically and mentally.