Padres Prospect Interview: Chris Jaile

LAKE ELSINORE- "Originally drafted in 1999 by the Texas Rangers as a catcher. Spent six years in their organization, five as a catcher and last year as a pitcher. Started out – spent four years in High-A but never really hit enough to move up. Caught defensively and held my own but never put up the numbers and in July of 04, I was catching for Stockton in California and hurt my groin."

"I decided I was either going to retire or needed a new change in my life."

So, how did the transition to the mound transpire from there?

Chris Jaile: I called the Rangers and proposed the idea and they came out and saw me pitch and said all right, hang em up, you are now a pitcher. I spent the off-season rehabbing my groin to get ready for the season. Started me off in a piggy back role, I basically trailed the starter every five days and once I got enough innings under my belt, started the second half and they promoted me (to the Cal League). Was in the rotation for the second half of last year and made about 14 starts.

After I became a six-year free agent and got a couple of offers and the Mariners offered me an invite to big league camp and I took the best opportunity I could and I thought it was with them. Then four days before spring training ended I was traded to the Padres.

It has been an interesting career.

Talk about starting the year in a relief role after last year getting time as a starter.

Chris Jaile: Apparently, from what I gathered from the organization, they want to build me up, as I am still a rookie when it comes to pitching. I only threw 109 innings last year and next to some of these guys who have been pitching their whole lives 109 innings is nothing. Hopefully get me in the rotation but I am very happy with my role in the bullpen. It is fun down there.

I started the year off with a good appearance and came here with the opportunity in this organization – it is always hard when you come to a new place but I am excited about it.

Did you feel tired after pitching 109 innings last year – considering you threw about 100 back to the mound each night which is a little different.

Chris Jaile: I definitely went through a couple of dead arm phases. Originally when I first became a pitcher they told me the goal was 100 and I was fine with it. I was in a routine in Low-A and when I got to the All-Star break they realized I was not going to get to 100 innings so they made a move and I got to mid-August and went through a dead-arm phase. I was throwing strikes but nothing was coming out. I bounced back and my velocity was back up. Those are the pains you go through in your first year. I experienced new soreness in my arm that I never even knew I had – new muscles I didn't existed.

It has been a smooth transition. The coaches have helped me out immensely.

Talk about how the off-season preparation differs from catching to pitching. I imagine they are quite different.

Chris Jaile: The last two off-seasons have been tricky. As a catcher it was always get bigger, get bigger, get stronger. Now it is all about maintaining. Throw and run. Everyday just go and do some kind of running. That was the only thing I had to get used to. My first year as a catcher was bullpen, bullpen. You can only catch so many games as a bullpen and finally you don't worry about the numbers and just know you have to catch it. After a while, you just got into a habit and realize that you have to run so I am just going to run. The running aspect was a huge, huge difference.

What is your repertoire like?

Chris Jaile: Fastball, changeup, curveball guy. With the Rangers they told me the curveball might be a little inconsistent in the long run so they added a slider. Got to spring training with the Mariners and the Mariners liked my curveball, didn't say anything about the slider so I threw all four. The trade came about so quickly that I stuck with all four and thankfully they have let me go out and do my own thing. I think it is somewhat of a waiting period in this organization because they saw me for four days in spring training and that was it. As of right now, it is a getting to know you phase. Them getting to know the way I throw and me getting to know their pitching philosophies.

I was lucky that I caught with the Padres pitching philosophies with the Rangers when Grady was there. SO I was very used to the three pitches or less and ground ball mentality of going right after hitters. I know the system pretty well and throwing changeups. I am trying to adopt it everyday into my game and into my preparation. Do the things they want me to do to stay here and make it to the big leagues.

Talk about your relationship with Grady Fuson and how that has helped make this move to the Padres easy.

Chris Jaile: It was literally tap me on the shoulder, ‘you are going over to the other side.' Grady and I have always had a great relationship. I have known him since I was 20 years old – we have a good working relationship; I respect the way he goes about his business and he respects me and knows how I pitch and my makeup.

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