Cooper Brannan wears another uniform now

Peoria, AZ-- Some considered it a ploy. They didn't think he would make it out of spring. But, Cooper Brannan is more than a man in uniform – he is a man in a baseball uniform. The right-hander is out to prove the Padres made the right decision in signing him. The signs are positive thus far.

How have you changed as an individual since you first arrived here until now?

Cooper Brannan: I think coming from the Marine Corps side and then coming over here, I think I've relaxed a little bit more. Being in the Marine Corps, you know, you're always in that stress environment – making sure you do things right and you're getting things done the right way the Marine Corps style. And here, it's kind of like, you have a program set day-to-day, but it's not as stressful. So I think as an individual I've just become more relaxed but still in my realm of working hard.

And as a player?

Cooper Brannan: As a player, I think I've been progressing every day. I've been doing pretty good. I've pitched about five games and I had two bad outings, but just been doing very well.

Do you believe you are an untapped talent because of your long layoff?

Cooper Brannan: You know, I'm not sure. I think that has a big deal (to do with it). Part of not throwing three years, and then coming back and your arm feeling great. So I think it does have a lot to do with it.

What have been the mechanical changes you have gone through?

Cooper Brannan: Mechanical changes – I think we're using my lower body a lot more. I was using a lot of upper body when I first tried out, and I started working with a pitching coach named Dominic Johnson out in California. He got me throwing – we only had about a couple of months to get me into throwing shape before I came out here. I was working a lot on my upper body at that time, following through the pocket and making sure my arm didn't slow down. And obviously, then I came here, and we've been working on lower body. I think the biggest thing is my lower body.

It used to be an expectation that players would go off to military duty in the middle of a baseball career – do you have an appreciation for that history?

Cooper Brannan: Oh, yeah, most definitely. It's like everyone was saying, everyone's been e-mailing me, writing me letters, and things like that. They really like the story because, like you said, most guys played a professional career, put it on hold, and go into the military or wherever they went. For me, I did my time and now it's time for me to play the American pastime sport.

Is pressure on the mound even existent given your past and what you saw in Iraq?

Cooper Brannan: That's the biggest thing that coaches like about me. When I get up on the mound, I don't play mind games with myself. I've been in some of the toughest situations that anyone could possibly be in, but there's still the little anxiety of wanting to strike out, the adrenaline, things like that. I'm human! I think I handle it better than most young individuals at my age.

You got a chance to work with Dominic Johnson – was Brandon Higelin there with you at the same time and if so did that give you a friend coming into spring training?

Cooper Brannan: Most definitely. He's a great guy. He's great pitcher. He was an all-star last year. We've gotten a lot of help from him, and he's really helped us out to get to this point to be able to compete at this level.

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