LeBlanc focused on improvement

San Diego Padres manager Bud Black mentioned Wade LeBlanc when talking about the fifth spot in the rotation this spring. LeBlanc heard the rumblings, and while he did not get the nod, the southpaw knows it will take continued hard work to reach his dreams.

Talk about the experience of big league camp and what it meant for you.

Wade LeBlanc: It was a great experience. Each day you learn something new from a different guy that you didn't expect to learn. I took away a lot. I am sad to be (in Portland) but went in knowing it would happen. I tried to take advantage of every day I was up there.

Early on, Padres manager Bud Black said you were in the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. What kind of confidence does that give you when you hear it from Black?

Wade LeBlanc: It gives you a lot of confidence but at the same time he said it was an outside shot. You can't go in there putting too much pressure on yourself. I think I put a little too much pressure on myself in my outing (in Spring) and tried to do too much.

That is the big thing I got out of it – and it comes with experience, which right now I don't have. It comes with time – the realization that you don't have to do too much. It is the little things like that that make a pitcher a complete pitcher.

Was there any questions you went into camp with where you wanted to ask a specific guy a specific thing?

Wade LeBlanc: Yes, when I got the letter, I started to find things that I needed to improve upon that those guys do well. You think of things you need to work on so you can talk to them.

Did you get a chance to walk up to Trevor Hoffman and say, ‘Let's talk changeup'?

Wade LeBlanc: I didn't get a chance to do that.

Is there something specific you want to focus on early in the season?

Wade LeBlanc: Fastball command is number one. Fastball command and secondary pitches number two. That is my big thing and what it will always be until I get to a point where I am consistently locating pitches down.

When you look at that, is there something you can pinpoint that is giving you trouble finding the consistency you want?

Wade LeBlanc: It is just finding mechanics that work for you and being able to repeat those each and every pitch. I am not going to make perfect pitches every pitch. It is finding mechanics that are easily repeatable and working on those until you get comfortable.

You have several different looks with a runner on base and some high leg kicks and slide steps. Does that make it difficult on keeping consistent mechanics?

Wade LeBlanc: No...you get used to them. There is the slide step and the leg kick, which is more similar to the windup, but you learn through the slide step and when to get your hands started. Ultimately, you end up in the same position each way.

When you look at the 2008 season – what is going to make for a successful year for Wade LeBlanc?

Wade LeBlanc: That is a tough question. I have to cut down home runs. I have to cut down home runs allowed. I have to cut down walks. I want to keep the ball on the ground a lot more and that will take care of the home run situation as well.

Other than that, command – fastball command and secondary pitches.

You say secondary pitches, but most people wouldn't consider the changeup to be any issue.

Wade LeBlanc: It is always an issue. I can always get better throwing the changeups to left-handers, because that will make my fastball more effective to lefties. Again, command, overall.

When you throw a changeup and follow it up with a fastball, do you think those hitters are seeing it at 92-94 when it might only be 87-89 on the radar gun?

Wade LeBlanc: I hope they are seeing it at 93 and 94. That will make it a lot easier on me. I really don't know.

Do you think you met your own expectations last season?

Wade LeBlanc: I didn't really know what to expect in my first full year. I finished the year in Double-A and we won a championship – I would say yea, I did meet my expectations.

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