Grady Fuson: His progress has been good. I just saw him (on Tuesday). Since the end of the fall league, we got him a place in San Diego and he has been rehabbing and working out down in the clubhouse.
He is in good shape and working out at 120 feet. Everything is on schedule. We are probably looking at – hopefully, depending on any hiccups he goes through – a late May.
Jose Oyervidez also had surgery. He has been a pitcher who is tough to evaluate. He has some great stuff but command has been an issue. What is the key for him to put it altogether, health pending?
Grady Fuson: He has had a tough go. His injury was a little bit different; it was more of a transposition of the nerve instead of Tommy John, basically moving the nerve.
He has come back good. He should be ready to go in camp.
Like you said, he has been a tough one for everyone. His stuff is good. He has a good arm, had good breaking stuff, developed a changeup but he has always been fighting command. His record has always been skewed because of the inconsistency going deep into games and giving up the big inning. We will see how he is when he comes back.
Matt Bush obviously had a promising start as a pitcher and then suffered the injury setback. How is his recovery progress? And I guess the same can be said for Nick Schmidt since both probably don't figure into 2008 much at all.
Grady Fuson: On schedule. Him and Schmidt took place later in the year so they are going to basically miss most of 2008. Bush has been good. He is back in Arizona on the rehab program. He is still a ways away. He and Schmidt are a ways away from being ready to start their throwing programs.
Pascual Juan has been injured two years running and while he has electricity in his arm is a guy that needs to be out on the mound facing hitters. How much do the injuries stall his progress?
Grady Fuson: Without a doubt. We have brought him here two years now and as soon as he gets here he is hurt. This time we are going to leave him in the Dominican till we know he is 100 percent.
He has a gifted arm. You hit it; it is about staying healthy for a guy like that and getting a chance to get out of Arizona. He has always fought trying to throw a breaking ball. We have always thought there was a little fear in there as well. It is hard to see when he touches 95 MPH to have fear.
It is hard to get better when you are not on the mound. That has been the disappointment for him.
John Hudgins was back on the mound at Instructs and was really on his way with a solid 2006. Are you seeing the same guy who was with you in Texas and how do you think he will bounce back?
Grady Fuson: A little bit ahead of schedule, which doesn't surprise me with a guy like John Hudgins. Anyone who has gone through what he has gone through, you know he is going to do it diligently and being a tremendous worker in the rehab process.
We had talked about having him finish some things up in winter ball, but he elected not to go. He got some innings at Instructs, some innings out of the bullpen in the fall league – it probably wasn't enough where you could sit here and say he is back 100 percent. I think his stuff was coming back OK but his overall feel hadn't come back yet – just time on the mound.
He has been working hard. He is over in Arizona and should be 100 percent go in camp, and we will see where it will take him.
Are there any other injuries of note within the system or do you expect to go into 2008 relatively healthy?
Grady Fuson: Will Venable is still having problems with that shoulder. He has been hitting down in Arizona. We had him setup with (Jim) Lefebvre for the whole month of January – about three days a week they have been going through their thing together.
He started throwing last week and that same shoulder that was biting him in the fall league started biting him again. He got a shot the other day – let it cool for four or five days and start throwing again. Hopefully, that thing doesn't come back anymore, but if it does come back we may have to go in and have a scope.
Who do you expect to rebound from a down year in 2007 to stake their claim as a prospect?
Grady Fuson: I think there are a few players you can throw in there.
The number one guy I would like to put back on the map in the system is (Sean) Kazmar. He is a talented kid who brings a lot of skill on both sides of the game. He has just never been able to put both sides together.
Last year, he opened up at Double-A and struggled a little bit. We moved him down to Elsinore and he handled it like a pro, never complained. I think he knew deep down inside that he needed to go back and get things cleaned up, getting a restart, which I think he did.
He also proved to us that this kid can play short. The shortstop job in San Antonio is his to lose, the way I look at it.
He has been with us out there for three years, and hopefully he understands there are some changes with his approach that he needs to clean up and I hope he is prepared to do that.
This kid is an interesting kid to me. He does a lot of good things.
What about a guy like Felix Carrasco who came in overweight last year and took a step back with his development?
Grady Fuson: He really never got to the point where he has lit something up. That first summer when the expectations weren't very high, he played OK. That is a summer and a half away, and two more Instructional Leagues, and two more winters. There has been a lot of regression to his performance.
We have gone through a lot of ups and downs on what he thinks is right and what we tried to tell him he needs to do before he moves up. I don't want to say he is on his last legs, but we have signed a lot more players since we signed him, we have been through two drafts – he needs to get back on the timeline of where he needs to be. We certainly have expectations we have on him and he started to lose his turn a little bit. That is why we brought him back to the Instructional League this past winter. No way have we given up on this kid but eventually they have to take the bull by the horns and step up.