Ekstrom finds a home in the bullpen

SAN ANTONIO, TX-- Mike Ekstrom was cruising but then found himself pitching in the upper half of the zone. He never got down on himself and may have revived himself by going to the bullpen.

You battled through some struggles over the last year and a half and have ended up in the bullpen. What has the experience taught you about yourself?

Mike Ekstrom: I guess to stick with it. Things were going bad for a while and I kept working hard with my pitching coaches and the rest of the pitchers. I am glad it has worked out.

Is there anything you are focusing on to improve for the stretch run?

Mike Ekstrom: I am trying to get more consistent with my secondary pitches and command my fastball better.

What is your favorite pitch to throw to get out of a jam?

Mike Ekstrom: I would say whatever gets the hitter out. Different hitters call for different pitches. You have to think it out and figure out the right pitch to throw at the right time. When you figure that out – that is the best thing. It is probably what I like most about pitching.

How satisfying was it for you to come back in the championship game last season and have a dominant performance?

Mike Ekstrom: It definitely felt good. It was nice – the whole playoff run I didn't get to pitch at all. Getting in a game and then doing well – it felt great. It made all the work worthwhile.

You have always been considered a ground ball pitcher. Has it felt like there have been times when you got away from your strengths?

Mike Ekstrom: Yes. I didn't do as good a job of keeping the ball down. If I leave the ball up, they are not going to hit ground balls. They will hit fly balls and my ball won't sink like I want it to.

If I can keep the ball down and command my fastball low in the zone, I will get ground balls. Last year and early this year, I got away from it and was leaving balls up and they were hitting them in the gaps.

You were the opening day starter for several years and had been in the rotation. Was it hard to give that up?

Mike Ekstrom: I will pitch whenever they want me to pitch. (Moving to the pen) was not that big a deal. It does not matter what day you throw on as long as you are in the game.

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