Abbot on prospects and philosophies

From Mobile to San Antonio, the pitching staff could be much different from a year ago. But Glenn Abbott saw the best of the bunch, several of whom will move on to Triple-A Portland. We caught up with Abbott to discuss his pitchers from 2006 and the strength in conviction – an important asset for a pitcher.

Jose Oyervidez has the walk troubles too but has a good assortment of pitches to draw from.

Glenn Abbott: He does and he is a great worker. He has good commitment. For me, he just needs the confidence and believing in himself. I don't really think he trusts himself. When things happen he just tries to guide it.

Cesar Carrillo you had early on as well. You got to see him for nine or ten starts. What did you see out of him?

Glenn Abbott: I saw a guy that was very competitive. He needed to get his command on his glove side, away from a right-handed hitter. He pitches inside very well, on his arm side in to a right-hander and away from a left-hander. He can do that very well. He needs command of his glove side fastball and to be able to throw that changeup consistently for strikes. He was in the process of getting that done and he went to Triple-A and his arm was a little tender. It was a little tender before he left and the trainers thought it was just forearm soreness. It ended up being a little more than that and hopefully he will be ok.

John Hudgins, same thing. You got ten starts out of him and from what I have heard coming from the Texas organization they asked him to do something he wasn't as comfortable doing – be a hard thrower and it resulted in inconsistency and the Padres wanted him to get back to his comfort level.

Glenn Abbott: Right, he was doing that. He is another guy who is a great competitor on the mound and he was doing that. It is a matter of getting the opportunity and making pitches. And he came up with a tender arm too.

Down the stretch there was no better pitcher than Jack Cassel for you guys.

Glenn Abbott: Jack was just amazing. I was really glad that he signed back with us. The guy had a good year. He commanded everything and became consistent with his breaking ball. When he came down we talked about what he had to do to become consistent with his breaking ball and he tightened it up and made it a little more crisper than it was. The only time I had ever seen him was in spring training and it was much better. He did a very good job. He was very solid from all the way through when he was down there. He came down and was very solid.

With a guy like Thompson because he has such an attitude on the mound and lets his emotions come out.

Glenn Abbott: That is another thing we worked a lot on this year. I mean from jumpstreet we were not going to tolerate that and he improved a lot on that too. His emotions would even bother him on bullpen sessions and we made sure that we talked about that from day one that we weren't going to tolerate that kind of action and we wanted him to be professional all the time, whether it is in the game or on the side or wherever it may be. And he got a lot better with that too.

I imagine that is a tough thing to reign in because you want to keep that competitive attitude too.

Glenn Abbott: Oh yes you do but you want to be able to control it. Like I told him, ‘there are some people that can get excited and emotions take over and they pitch better and there are others that it hurts them. From what I have seen it hurts you. You have to be in control at all times.'

In pitching that is the one thing he has to understand. He has to be in control of himself at all times when you are on the mound. Once you lose control that is when things get haywire and you make mistakes. You have to be in control. Some people can get emotional and get mad and take it up a notch. He was not one of those guys. I said, ‘you could develop into that but right now you are not that way and you have to control that.' And he did.

He got shutout, gosh, eight or ten times. He got shutout quite a bit and there is nothing you can do about that. He would make a mistake and get mad after giving up two runs but he learned to deal with that. He made a lot of improvement and I was really proud of him for that.

He gave up 20 homers but 15 of them were solo shots.

Glenn Abbott: And control pitchers will give up a lot of homers. You look at any guy who is a control guy they give up a lot of homers. You just have to keep people off the bases. Catfish Hunter used to lead the league in homers every year but he did not give up three-run homers. That is what kills you. Solo homers don't hurt you too bad.

I remember thinking at the start of the season that this staff had a chance to be the best in the system and I think that held pretty true.

Glenn Abbott: We made improvement. What hurt us was we were last in defense in the whole league. That hurts a bunch when your defense wasn't good. And next to last in hitting and dead last in defense. That affects the numbers a lot. That hurt us quite a bit.

When Colt Morton came up he helped us a lot. We played a lot better with him behind the plate and we pitched better.

How do you tie in with the catchers and the gameplanning?

Glenn Abbott: I think of the catchers like the pitchers. We try to be on the same page. I talk to the catchers about the hitters just like the pitchers about the hitters. Sometimes I may talk more to the catchers because he is back there every day. You have to be on the same page.

For Morton was it just his ability to command the staff and have a good rapport with them?

Glenn Abbott: I think so. He did a good job in that respect. He took a lot of pride in his catching. He improved a bunch from spring training. From what I saw in spring training he improved a lot. He had a pretty good rapport. The things we would talk about we would see him make those adjustments throughout games as the season went on, our pitch selection, what is going on right here in this situation and how you got there. He made a lot of improvement.

I always try to make sure that if they call a pitch and even though they got burned on it was the right pitch or the wrong pitch.

He took it the right way too. Anytime I talked to him about pitch selection or pitch calling he took it well too. Some guys get defensive about it. It is all about making the right pitch. You can make the right pitch and get hurt because you made a mistake with it. So many guys, all they see is the result. It is not about the result of the pitch. It is about executing the right pitch. If you hang a breaking ball and get it up it is just like hanging a fastball. They are going to hit it and are supposed to hit it. I just want them to know that they made the right pitch but it was just the wrong location. They will say, ‘I knew I shouldn't have thrown that fastball.' No, you threw the right pitch, you just didn't execute it. The same with the breaking ball.

I can remember when I came up and I told the team this story. Dick Williams, the first manager I ever had and we were playing Minnesota and they had a guy named Darwin on the team and he hit a home run off me on a 3-2 curveball and the scheme was to make him hit curbevalls. Dick Williams was screaming at me as I came off the field; he ate me out about it. As a pitcher I can remember saying, ‘holy cow, well what am I supposed to do?' I threw the right pitch, just don't hang it. He ate me out for hanging a curveball. No one ever tries to hang a curveball. Dick Williams was real bad about second guessing pitches and I don't want – that is not the way it is; that is not the way you teach, I don't think.

You are right. If you have confidence in the pitch you are more likely to execute it anyway.

Glenn Abbott: Exactly. You just want to be able to throw the right pitch in the right situation. It takes more experience and time to execute them.

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