Brooks Dunn: It was a disagreement and it wasn't right. We make mistakes and get hot-headed at times and make bad decisions. There is no one to blame but myself. It was a disagreement and at the time it was just best for me to go home.
When you go home early like that and you see your team in the playoffs, you just wish you were there to help and it gives you motivation for the next season.
I came out here this year, slimmed down and ready to play baseball. I am excited that they gave me an opportunity to come back and I want to show them every day that I am thankful for that.
We have talked for the last two years about going from relief to starting and back. Is there a set role for Brooks Dunn?
Brooks Dunn: I don't think so – unless the flip-flop is a role. I am one of those guys that they feel like can do multiple things. Hopefully, that is a valuable commodity they believe I have to pitch me where they need me. I hope they look at it like that and not throw him out there and let him wear it. I think they realize I have a little bit of versatility. As long as they keep putting me out there, I am happy.
What was the off-season like for you, especially since you didn't get as many innings as you wanted to last year?
Brooks Dunn: The biggest thing that helped me get back here was I went to work. I worked from 7-to-5 each day and was like, ‘I am not ready to do this. I am not ready to move on. I am going to do whatever I can do get back on the diamond.' That is what it was.
Every day I went back to my college and had some guys help me work out to keep my motivation to get back here.
How are you feeling now that you have a few innings under your belt?
Brooks Dunn: I threw some bullpens in the off-season and to some college guys to just let them hit it but out here – it is weird going out there trying to get people out. It feels good to get back in the swing of things and get back to real baseball.
What do you want to work on this season?
Brooks Dunn: The changeup, definitely. I feel like the slider is my best pitch and always has been. I always think I can locate my fastball better. There is always room for more location. I am really working on the changeup. The Padres pound throwing a good changeup. You see the guys in the big leagues that have that pitch and I am really working on that all off-season and all spring.
What is it going to do for you and when will you have the confidence to throw it any time you want?
Brooks Dunn: You have to go out there and throw strikes with it. The catcher will tell you if it looks good or even the hitters will give you good feedback. The more people that tell you – the coaches too – it is getting better, you just need the confidence to keep trying it.
The first thing you have to be able to do is throw strikes with it and command it.
The littlest thing in your arm or release point can make that pitch look awful. I think it is repeating throwing good ones. Guys like LeBlanc have that feeling and can throw a good one nine times out of 10. You have to get to that point where you are comfortable with it like a fastball.
When you look back at the end of the year, what will make a successful year for Brooks Dunn?
Brooks Dunn: One thing is staying the entire year – that would be nice. Not so much the numbers – if I have more control, if I feel like I have developed as a pitcher, no matter what level I am at, I feel like that is a success.
I am not too worried about how high I go. As long as they keep me around and I make myself a better pitcher.
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