His first four appearances the next season saw 12 earned runs over 11 innings for the Eugene Emeralds. He was demoted to the Arizona Rookie League and after posting a 6.75 ERA in July he roared back to hammer out a 2.59 ERA in August.
Part of it was conditioning. He came into camp overweight and had to work off the extra baggage. He wasn't in pitching shape – a fact he readily admits and has learned from.
He came into Spring Training ready for the season – wherever the Padres were prepared to send him and has made his home in extended throughout the spring, beginning the season in Arizona as he returns from injury.
Talk about how the off-season changed for you this year after coming in last year out of shape.
Geoff Vandel: Last year I wasn't exactly prepared for spring training. The experience from spring training last year taught me what it takes and where I needed to be at. I knew I had to run more, distance-wise, I knew I had to work out more, make sure my throwing program was right – I just had to get after it harder and be more prepared.
Last year you flipped between coming out of the pen and starting, and late in the year you came on strong with three fantastic starts. Talk about the difference between the two roles and what the plan is this season.
Geoff Vandel: I haven't really had to experience the relief role in the past. If that is where I end up in the Padres organization I just have to not only be physically be ready to pitch but mentally know I have to go in at any point in time of the game. I love starting and am used to that because of experiences in the past but wherever they need me to be I will be ready. Has there been one pitch you have been working on now or perhaps even adding a new one to your arsenal?
Geoff Vandel: Not necessarily one pitch or a new one for my arsenal. It was more working on mechanics and making sure I was where I needed to be mechanically, physically, mentally, from all those standpoints of the game. Just be ready to go out and throw strikes because that is what a role is for a pitcher – you have to throw strikes to be able to make it. So, I just worked on mechanical stuff and worked on throwing strikes.
What are your expectations for this season?
Geoff Vandel: Have a good season and move up as high as I can as fast as I can. Have a good year and keep on rolling.
Do you feel like you attack lefties and righties the same, especially considering how few at bats left-handed hitters had off you last season?
Geoff Vandel: It depends on what situation there is in the game. As a starter you have to go in more prepared for all kinds of situations. You have to be prepared for a leadoff guy or people on base and different standpoints in the game. It just depends what the situation is, what kind of hitters is up, whether he plays with speed or power, and that kind of determines what I start with and what I finish with.