Eddie Pena: Very excited. It is a great opportunity for me. I am pumped about it. I am down here working my butt off everyday getting ready for spring training.
How did signing with them all come about?
Eddie Pena: I was probably one of the luckiest people ever. My whole situation with the tryout – when I first got sent a letter for the tryout I realized that we had made the playoffs and it was overlapping. I called them and told them we made the playoffs and told them I probably couldn't make the first one, I think in Chicago, and asked if they had another. Luckily they sent me to another tryout camp in Arizona. I really didn't think I was going to be able to go because we, the Worcester team, won the Championship. We actually swept Quebec and if we hadn't swept them I would have still been playing because that fourth day was when the tryout camp started. We swept and I was up all night partying with the team and literally jumped on a plane with two hours of sleep to go to the tryout camp.
And word is you are a submarine-style pitcher. Have you always thrown from that arm angle or how did it develop?
Eddie Pena: More of a sidearm. I would not say I am a knucklescraper.
I have actually thrown over the top and was a starter in high school and college. I threw over the top but one summer during my sophomore year – right before I went back to school – I was playing with friends and dropped to the side and threw one and it felt pretty good, felt kind of natural for me. That year, every once in a while, I would drop down every couple innings if I needed a strikeout or a ground out just to mess with hitters and have them see something different. I did that for the last two years of college, probably once every other inning, throwing a fastball or a changeup.
When I got to Worcester I was a reliever. I showed the coach and he really didn't like sidearm guys. He let me throw one and he kind of liked it and said, ‘alright, we will work on it.' As the season progressed, he wanted me to throw it more. And then about a month left in the season he said, ‘you have pretty good success down there so I want you to throw predominantly from the side.' That is basically how I have become a sidearmer. I am still learning the ropes and getting a feel for it but it has worked out pretty well so far.
One of the toughest parts of throwing from there has to be consistency with the release point. Has that been a problem for you?
Eddie Pena: It is actually, for me for some reason – I have had people tell me it looks more natural. This summer I was throwing both for a while, over the top and sidearm every inning, mixing it in. People have said I look more natural and it feels more natural. Fastballs and changeups, I have a pretty good feel for where it is going.
The Padres have been very successful in signing Independent League players – was that one of the reasons you were anxious to try out for them?
Eddie Pena: I was really looking at any opportunity to break into affiliated baseball. I had heard throughout the summer that the Padres are one of the few major league clubs that believe in getting Independent League players. I was really excited about that and glad I got the opportunity.