Padres Interview: A different Justin Germano

Washington, D.C.-- Despite posting some solid numbers in the San Diego minor league system, Justin Germano struggled in his brief stint with the Padres in 2004 going 1-2 with an 8.86 ERA. This time - things are different.

The knock on Germano, 24, was he tried to be too precise with his pitches, which frequently resulted in him being behind in the count and forced him to throw a relatively straight fastball for strikes, which was hammered.

In 2005, Germano was again posting solid numbers in Portland but the Padres needed to make a move for a third baseman and traded Germano along with right-hander Travis Chick to the Cincinnati Reds for third baseman Joe Randa.

The trade never really worked out for both sides, and in the spring of 2007 his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies, placed Germano on waivers. The Padres added him to the 40-man and assigned him to Portland.

This year with the Beavers, Germano has been a different pitcher, posting a 4-0 record with 1.69 ERA, holding batters to a .197 average. His peripheral statistics were dominant as well K/BB ratio of 20/3 and an innings pitched to hits ratio of 32/23.

Although the numbers in Triple-A were impressive, no one expected him to perform even better in the majors, which he has going into Saturday night's game with a 3-0 record in four starts to go along with a 1.08 ERA. Batters are hitting only .193 against Germano to go along with only two walks in 25 innings.

Saturday, Germano had a shutout going into the sixth, allowing just two hits over the first five frames before surrendering three runs with two outs in the sixth. He moved to 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA and .207 average against.

The biggest difference this year for Germano, as compared to the past, is being able to be aggressive with his fastball early in the count to setup his plus curveball and changeup.

You were always ranked highly on the Padres' prospects list when you were in the system, but in a few brief stints with the club you never had the level of success that you are experiencing now. What have been the biggest reasons for your success?

Justin Germano: Mainly just maturity and experience. When I first came up, although I thought that I was ready, I wasn't maturity wise, which means concentrating and helping myself get out of jams. Being able to take in the full effect of being in the big leagues and just keeping my emotions under control is where I have improved. I've been in Triple-A the past few years and big league camps, which have helped me learn how to bear down.

The thing that everyone has always written about you is that you have a very good curveball and changeup, but the key to your success is the command of your fastball. You seem to have much better command of your fastball this time around, it sinks more with movement and you're getting quite a few called lower strikes. What has been the reason for your improved command?

Justin Germano: I throw mainly sinkers and before I threw a lot more four-seamers. Now it's just about exclusively two-seamers or sinkers. [Editor's note – A two-seam fastball tends to move or sink more than a four seamer which will come in straighter, but with more speed]. I've been trying to get guys to roll over more and hit ground balls.

It's one thing to throw a lot more two-seamers with movement, but how are you able to consistently throw them for strikes?

Justin Germano: It was one of my goals in my off-season workouts, to consistently be able to throw that pitch for strikes. To throw it on both sides of the plate, to master it like Jake (Peavy) or (Greg) Maddux. Even if you miss it's down so it's not going to kill you.

Did you go through a rollercoaster of emotions once the Phillies designated you for assignment and then the Padres picked you up?

Justin Germano: Oh yeah, but I was definitely excited to come back to San Diego. I would have liked to stay there, but I definitely did not want to play in the minor leagues again with Philadelphia. When I came back to San Diego, I was excited to get a second chance with them again.

Does it help having Darren Balsley as a pitching coach here who you also had as pitching coach in the minors?

Justin Germano: It's always easier coming back to a place where you have a bit of track record so they knew what I was capable off. I feel like I've come pretty far since I was here last so it feels good to know that they have the confidence in me to perform.

After talking to him before Friday's game, we caught up with him again after his recent victory over the Nationals in D.C. on Saturday night.

This is your fourth win in a row. Even though its always tough to pitch in the major leagues, in a way it has to be somewhat easier because of how well you have pitched each time out?

Justin Germano: Yeah that is what I was telling myself. When I first got called up that is what I was telling myself – it was just a couple of starts but be yourself, you know get that confidence up. With each start that I've had, I've just felt more comfortable out there and been more aggressive going after guys.

Tonight you went 2-for-3 with a double. That is really impressive when you don't really get that many at-bats in the minors.

Justin Germano: Well, I've been taking BP everyday at home and have gotten a lot in on this road trip. It was my first hit, so I was pretty pumped.

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