Padres Prospect Interview: Rob Musgrave

There was little that Rob Musgrave didn't do well in his professional debut. The left-hander struck out 14.1 batters per nine innings pitched and held the opposition to a .217 average. That does not mean he wasn't working on improving – with an eye on a spot in the rotation next year.

Let's start with the season and how it went for you. You were in a little bit different role, going in relief after spending the year in college as a starter.

Rob Musgrave: It's a lot different, especially since you don't know exactly when you're going to throw and then what type of situation you're going to be in. Sometimes you could be in there with the bases loaded and one out. Some other times you're coming in at the beginning of an inning. It's a little different not knowing exactly what kind of situation you're getting into.

How have you been able to stay mentally focused on that?

Rob Musgrave: I guess just try to keep the same mentality that you have no matter what. You'll get yourself into situations like that when you're starting even. Just having that same mental outlook; having the same even keel where out on the mound, not worrying about the situation you're in, just worrying about the pitches you're throwing.

Is there a different approach when you see somebody else's guys on base and you're coming in, asked to stop the bleeding?

Rob Musgrave: Not really, my job is to get people out. So, if I'm doing that, obviously, I'm doing my job. It doesn't matter the situation that I come into. If I'm getting people out, then I'm doing what I'm supposed to.

What were you working on out in Eugene? Obviously pitching coach Dave Rajsich's a guy you can lean on. What has he been teaching you?

Rob Musgrave: Well, we've changed a little bit of stuff in my mechanics, trying to keep myself more on line. Stuff I've been told since I was real little, but were working on it a lot more here. I've been trying to change that a little bit, trying to just refine my secondary stuff a little bit more.

Have you seen the benefits of staying on line? Or is it uncomfortable to start with?

Rob Musgrave: Well, it's uncomfortable to start with. It's gotten a lot more comfortable now. I'm kind of seeing my command improve quite a bit in the strike zone. I am seeing the benefits of it in that way.

You mentioned improving your secondary stuff. What specifically are you trying to improve?

Rob Musgrave: It's always nice to be able to spot whatever you have better. I'm working on just trying to keep my changeup down in the zone. Most of the time, any time I leave it up, it gets hit pretty hard. So, if I keep it down in the zone, then it's not going to hurt me too bad. Just working on being able to spot my curveball for a strike and then be able to also throw it for a strikeout pitch.

What would be that third pitch when you're going in their starting? Are you talking about the curveball being it?

Rob Musgrave: The curveball. My changeup is probably my best pitch. Definitely just refining my curveball is the biggest part of being able to come back as a starter.

Now, you've been able to put guys away with two strikes this year kind of at a pretty good clip. What's been the reason for that?

Rob Musgrave: I don't know. I'm trying to pitch to contact, doing everything that they're telling me. Once I get to two strikes, I definitely try to finish them off, but I'm not trying to do anything different. I guess just being able to spot my off-speed stuff and keep them off-balance.

Manager Greg Riddoch instituted a journal for everybody. Is that something that's new to you?

Rob Musgrave: Yeah, it's definitely new to me. In college we were always told to not really focus so much on the scouting reports that we've seen, just more pitch to our strengths. Because your best stuff 95 percent of the time is going to get out whoever the hitter is that you're facing. So, if you just pitch to your strengths, then you should be able to get anyone out. But at this next level, then you kind of need to know, kind of need to have a background of the hitters that you're facing.

So, is there something specific that you're writing down now?

Rob Musgrave: I'm actually keeping a database of all the hitters that I face; just trying to go through their at-bats. Getting a chart every night that I pitch from Rajsich and trying to just write down every at-bat, what they did, how they beat me, how I beat them; just kind of keeping that so I know in the future what I need to do to be successful against them.

Now, you mentioned maybe too much thinking on the mound. Is there a fear of that too?

Rob Musgrave: Yeah, if you go out and you're just worried about, ‘I can't pitch inside to this guy', then obviously once you get that mental picture in your head, you're going to accidentally go inside. You're not wanting to, but that's the focus that you have, so you're going to miss. A big part of it is just keeping a positive attitude, just saying, ‘throw a good down and away strike' instead of saying, ‘I can't go inside, I can't do this.' That's definitely a big part of being successful as a pitcher.

What do you look forward to? Do you look forward to getting back in the rotation next year?

Rob Musgrave: I'd like to have the routine. But, I'm enjoying throwing out in the ‘pen right now. I'm willing to do whatever the Padres want me to do to help the team. It would be nice to get back into the rotation, but if that's not what they see me doing, that's fine with me.

Were you tired at the end of the year?

Rob Musgrave: I was tired a little bit earlier, but my arm is starting to come back a little bit. I had a little bit of a dead arm coming in, but I've thrown a lot of innings this year, so that can be expected.

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