Padres Prospect Interview: Ernesto Frieri

After a successful tour in Fort Wayne, Ernesto Frieri has been a stabilizer to the Lake Elsinore Storm bullpen. The Columbian native has more confidence than he had a year ago and that is half the battle as a pitcher.

It has been a pretty good year for you. I know you were not happy with last year but it seems like things have gone well this season.

Ernesto Frieri: Like you said, this year has been good for me. I am learning something new everyday. I started the season in Fort Wayne and I think I did a pretty good job. I got moved up and am doing my job here. I am trying to do my best.

What has been working for you?

Ernesto Frieri: This year I came in with one purpose. My purpose was to throw strikes, control my fastball in the strike zone. Now I am working on my breaking balls. There are some times when I need that pitch. Right now I am doing my job with my fastball, but in this league the guys get ready too quick if you are just throwing fastball – fastball – fastball.

I have to work on my breaking ball and show it – let them know that I can throw a breaking ball too.

Two years ago when you first came to the states you had a very good slider.

Ernesto Frieri: Oh yea. My first year here I threw fastball, changeup slider. Bill Bryk told me no more sliders because every time I would throw it I would have a problem with my fingernail.

Now I have my curveball and it is working pretty good too.

How difficult was it to let go of a quality pitch, getting rid of the slider to go with the curveball and now having to get this newer pitch good?

Ernesto Frieri: It was hard. I was accustomed to throwing the slider and with the curveball you have to do something different. It was hard. I am learning everyday how to throw it. I think I am doing better day by day.

Talk about the changeup. We haven't mentioned that yet.

Ernesto Frieri: (Sigh) I don't really use my changeup a lot. (Pitching coach Steve) Webber told me, ‘Don't throw a changeup in hard situations in games that are close.' I don't really have a very good changeup. I need to work on that.

I try. I work in bullpens and practice and playing catch. I am getting there. I am getting a good changeup like I have a good curveball now.

When will you have the confidence to throw it in a game because using it in the pen is something else entirely.

Ernesto Frieri: It depends on the situation. If I come in the game and we are up by seven runs or losing by seven runs now I am going to throw my changeup. But when I come in the game with the game tied or close I have to do my best and throw my best stuff – my fastball and curveball. I don't want to get in trouble (by using the changeup).

How does your approach differ with men on base that are not your but someone else's?

Ernesto Frieri: That is a hard situation. I love to pitch to in hard situations. I think that I can do my job. ‘Now the team needs me. I am going to do it. Ok, let's do it.'

I always think positively when I come into a game. ‘I can do it. I am the best. That guy can't hit my fastball. That guy can't hit my curveball.' And that is what I try and do.

Have you met your own expectations?

Ernesto Frieri: We never know what is going to happen in baseball. I simply try and do my best every single day and wait for the opportunity.

I think I can play in the next level. I think I can do the job everywhere because I trust myself and know what I have and what I can do. I am just waiting for the opportunity.

What will the off-season be like for you?

Ernesto Frieri: I am going to play winter ball in Columbia. I talked about it with Grady Fuson and Bryk and they told me not to pitch a whole lot because I have a lot of innings here as a reliever. They want me to save my arm.

Now my goal is Double-A. Start in Double-A next year and you never know, maybe the Big Show.

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