Padres Prospect Interview: Paul Abraham

Paul Abraham could have gone anywhere after the season. He was a six-year free agent with plenty of options. The San Diego Padres stepped up with a big league invite and his familiarity brought him back. After a rocky start, he is hoping to right the ship on his quest to reach the majors.

All-time saves leader in China, Paul Abraham.

Paul Abraham: I knew that would come up (laughter). Funny story about that – the first game I had a 102 fever, sinus infection and bad headache.

I had a really bad sore throat and I crawled in the next day and they said, ‘We are going to give you the ninth. You may pitch or you may not. It is for your own good.'

‘Damnit, I flew 6,000 miles to get out here.' We scored a bunch of runs and I was able to get in their in the ninth and it just so happened that it was a save opportunity. It was a fun time. Bejing is a good city.

You re-sign with the Padres as a six-year free agent. What prompted you to return to the Padres?

Paul Abraham: It is always good to see familiar faces. The number one thing was my heart was still with San Diego and I still felt like I could make a difference with San Diego. They thought the same thing. Grady (Fuson) and Wick (Mike Wickham) and the boys came through with a good little big league thing. It was a pleasure to sign. I was happy to sign back.

You mentioned going to big league camp. What did you pick up over there and what did you learn?

Paul Abraham: This was my eighth season of professional baseball and seventh spring training and first big league camp. Rubbing shoulders with guys like (Greg) Maddux, and (Jake) Peavy, and (Trevor) Hoffman. Even guys that are on the fringe like (Tim) Stauffer – I learned a lot. It is indescribable the things you pick up by keeping your eyes open, your ears open, your mouth shut. Watch they way people interact with each other, with the clubbies, the fans – it is priceless.

I had a great time. It is disheartening to be (sent) down but it was going to happen. It was a matter of time. I took full advantage of what opportunity was given to me up there.

Last year in San Antonio, you had a solid season. There was a brief stretch that saw some struggles but you came back strong. When I talked to Randy Ready, he said he was surprised you didn't end up in the majors. Hearing that has to feel pretty good.

Paul Abraham: It always helps to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel – to know your coaches have that kind of confidence in you that you can pitch at the upper levels.

After I got hurt and came back, I had a couple of shaky outings. Once you get the feel back – it is like going through spring training again, getting the feel back pitching to hitters and getting the arm strength back up. Once that came back I was find. The first few innings after were rough but after that I was fine.

It is always good to know your coaches are behind you, which is a big thing.

We have always seen the good fastball and good slider. Is there a third pitch you tinker with?

Paul Abraham: I have always played around with a changeup – more of a split – but I have never been put into a situation where I feel like I can throw it in a game. I am usually coming in during the seventh, eighth or ninth when the game is on the line. And I played winter ball this off-season and worked with Henry Blanco and a couple of other big leaguers on it, but I was closing and setting up out there too so I had no opportunities to throw it.

If I get into a situation where I feel comfortable enough to flip a couple of changeups, I will. Right now, I go with what is best for me, what I am most aggressive with – and that is fastball/slider.

What will be a successful finish to the 2008 season for Paul Abraham?

Paul Abraham: A successful 2008 will be injury-free for one, and two is throw a lot of strikes and stay away from walks, letting the rest take care of itself. Let the seven guys behind me and the one in front of me do their jobs and it will be another successful season for us – hopefully get another Championship out of it.

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