Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Varner

Matt Varner closed out 34 games for the Fort Wayne Wizards and was called up to Lake Elsinore to assist their playoff run – a place he will likely call home in ‘06. caught up with the righty to reflect on last year.

Talk about the late call to join Lake Elsinore after the opening round loss with Fort Wayne in the playoffs.

Matt Varner: Big surprise. I was already at home. I drove all night the day we got beat out. You have to take every opportunity so I did.

I threw in the last inning of our year (at Fort Wayne) so that was pretty neat.

Your 2005 season was filled with saves and a second place finish in the Rolaids Relief Awards. Talk about winning the Midwest League honor with 34 saves but finishing second.

Matt Varner: That is always something good to put on a resume, make the parents and everyone happy. It was a fun race. Even not having as many opportunities as I thought it still made it a fun race. The clubhouse joking around with me, ‘you are in second! You are in first!'

I think I led for the most part but in the end our team ran out of juice. I ended up getting second and leading the Midwest League which was cool; something I can always tell my grandkids.

Talk about the brief experience in the California League at the end of the year.

Matt Varner: Middle relief; Rosie (Leo Rosales) did a great job. That could be a huge reason why I was having success. I learned a lot by watching him do it and have been trying to hang with him all year.

You worked the eighth inning for the Storm. How did that differ from your normal approach?

Matt Varner:I treat every inning the same. I am used to the intense ninth inning. I have to be focused and throw any inning like it is the ninth.

Former director of player development, Tye Waller, always said you had the mentality of a closer. What did he mean?

Matt Varner: Pitching an inning is pitching an inning. Typical closer stuff is mid-to-upper nineties but you look through our whole organization – which closer do we have that has that?

I am just keeping the same focus that you have to have every inning, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth – it is just one inning.

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