Jon Kirby: I started off really hot out here in Eugene and then I had a slump here and I was kind of down, giving up four runs without getting an out. But me and Wally have been talking and working on a lot of things. I felt really comfortable.
Anything specific that you and Wally are working on?
Jon Kirby: Just pitching in more. It is a big turnover from college. You really have to throw in more against these wood bats.
You started the year in Fort Wayne. Talk a little about that experience, especially as the first player from the draft class to make it up there.
Jon Kirby: It was awesome. I was filling in up there and done all right – not as good as I wanted to but they had another signee come in and got pushed back down to here. I am working my way up. Hopefully, I can get up by the end of the season or start next year up there.
Did you get hazed at all for coming back to Eugene?
Jon Kirby: Yea, a little. Especially when you come back – ‘Kirby, what did you do?' They all keep up with you so it is not that bad.
Talk about putting it together – that string of outings where you just feel good.
Jon Kirby: I threw three innings, one inning at a time without giving up a run and have been confident out there and am getting it back.
You didn't allow a home run throughout your senior season in college and have not given up one here in Eugene.
Jon Kirby: That is my goal, work down in the zone and get some outs.
Before some of the games you have had a chance to take pitcher's batting practice. Is that a chance for you guys to let go of anything mentally affecting you to have some fun and just offer a change of pace to break up the monotony? Plus, how did you do last time out?
Jon Kirby: I had a sore back from taking the home run swing. I hit one off the wall and that will have to do.
That is baseball. It is fun. Little things like that get the game going back when it is not going your way. We all get down. No one on this team wants to lose. We have lost some games, close games, extra inning games, and we have good coaches that pump us up. Wally and Dougy do everything in their power to get us going and it is up to us to make the transition to go in every day, whether we are struggling or not, to get it done.
You are the first player to ever be drafted out of Lee University. Is there any pressure involved in that?
Jon Kirby: No. I always joked around with my pitching coach, ‘man my back is sore from carrying this team.' It is great. I set the standards for them, put them on the map and they are getting some good recruits because I was there and my name. That is how I wanted it. I wanted to leave them knowing who I am and what I stand for. It is not a big deal to me I am just glad it happened.
I have heard that you are one of the jokesters out here and they have a few nicknames for you like ‘Fester'.
Jon Kirby: They say I look like the guy off Adams Family. I cut up. We go out and have a good time and make jokes. I am glad I have their moral support.
Working on the changeup – those few words seem to be with every pitcher here in Eugene. Did you throw a changeup in college and how is it developing?
Jon Kirby: I threw a changeup in college but not like I need to here. If you can consistently throw your fastball for a strike and work in the changeup when you have to that is how you move up. I am starting to do that. If you can throw fastball, changeup that is the hardest combination to hit.
How hard is it to work that changeup in. There was an outing recently where you went three innings and threw just two changeups.
Jon Kirby: For a reliever, they still stress it, but it is a little harder. I have been working two or three outs sometimes. With the rotation we do using two starters every night and the piggyback sometimes all you can get is two outs.
I was a starter in college. It was a big transition but I am willing to do whatever they want. If my role is to pitch in slop up games, I just like throwing the ball.
Talk about the transition to reliever and the different mindset involved.
Jon Kirby: I was a closer in the Valley League for two years and I started a game or two up there. That really helped me out up here, closing games out in my freshman and sophomore years but I have always been a starter.
It is a huge transition because you don't have time to warm up, you don't have time to work on pitches, you don't know when you are going to pitch, you don't know how many days you are going to have off in between pitching…
Pitching is all about a mindset. If you go out there and don't have the mindset that you are going to do well that you are not going to do well. You can't have any worries in your mind. The nerves are good as long as you can throw. If it gets out of hand than you are in trouble. I have just adjusted. I was really nervous my first couple of outings and gave up runs. Now I am focused and ready to make a run for it.
How has Wally been able to help the overall development of your game?
Jon Kirby: He has pitched in the bigs for several years and knows what he is doing. He knows a lot about pitching. He helps you with the mindset, mechanics, thinking in the game – 0-2 fastball I threw up when I was trying to go in. ‘You are open throwing. You are pressing. Don't worry about if you hit him. Who cares? You have another batter and you have good stuff.'
He just helps you with confidence. He keeps you loose. Wally is the type of guy that as long as you are pumping strikes you are going to get outs – he hates walks, I can tell you that, but he is lenient with you. He knows what it takes to make it – throw strikes, work our changeup. He knows those are some of the things he didn't do that maybe ended his career so he stresses it on us.