Vandel poised to put himself back on the map

Peoria, AZ- Left-hander Geoff Vandel had a promising professional debut but has not been able to cross that hump since – seeing brief action with the Eugene Emeralds and Fort Wayne Wizards. Vandel is hoping this is the season he puts himself back on the map.

At the end of the year you ended up in Fort Wayne and things didn't go exactly how you planned. What did you learn about the experience and what can you take into this year?

Geoff Vandel: It is always good to get promoted up. Unfortunately, it didn't go as planned. The only thing you can do is take it with a grain of salt and move on. You use the experience and take it to use with you next year. That is what I plan on doing this year.

You come into Spring Training for the third year now – is there something specific you want to work on?

Geoff Vandel: The same thing every year – you want to keep throwing strikes. If you do what you are supposed to do, hopefully it will pay off and you will move up year in and year out.

You have always had good command of your slider. Is there another pitch you want to bring up to that level?

Geoff Vandel: Being a starter, you always want a third pitch. You want that fastball, your number two pitch and a number three or even four pitch.

Mainly for me it is working low in the zone for strikes and making sure my off-speed pitch is there when I need it.

You led the league in double play groundouts. Is there a different mental approach in getting that rally killer in a crucial situation?

Geoff Vandel: It is all part of the situation in the game – what inning you are in, what the score is, who is on base, who is up to bat. Pitching to situations and not necessarily trying to overpower guys or strike everyone out. That is why you have a defense behind you – keep them in the game and they will help you out too.

How have you improved over the last few years since being drafted out of high school?

Geoff Vandel: I have learned so much. The experience of being around professional players and the coaching staff – you learn so much.

After the first year went well and then a couple of years that didn't go so well, you live and learn. Take the experience and get better with it.

You mentioned a couple of years that didn't go so well. Was it disappointing to find yourself in Arizona again in 2007?

Geoff Vandel: In a sense. It was probably for the best. I was injured (last season) for three months. An injury is never planned. They felt like I should start here, which was fine. I got my work in. You can't ever let it bother you – where you start at. Take it and roll with it.

Do you feel like this is the year you breakout?

Geoff Vandel: Yea, I feel confident this year. I feel more confident this year than I have over the last couple of years. I feel stronger and am ready to go. I will start wherever the organization wants me to start and go from there.

What breeds that confidence?

Geoff Vandel: The mental standpoint of the game. You have to know you can throw strikes day in and day out and be able to do the job when the time comes.

Did you see yourself – and I am not trying to put a label on you - as being immature two and three years ago?

Geoff Vandel: It is possible. Coming out of high school you are younger and have to mature. There might have been a little immaturity there. It is about growing and learning when you can.

What will make for a successful 2008 season for Geoff Vandel?

Geoff Vandel: Just getting the job done and not worrying about where I start. It is not about where you start but where you finish and how you finish. I plan on having a good year this year – the whole year – going out there each day and doing what I have to do.

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