Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Teague

Known for his strike throwing ability, San Diego Padres prospect Matt Teague has had to learn to expand the zone to have success. It is something he feels he did better as the season progressed.

You had split duty in 2007, seeing time as a starter and in relief. It seemed there was a clearer role for you in 2008. How difficult was it to change the mentality?

Matt Teague: It always seemed during relieving I had to get ready pretty quickly as opposed to starting when I had a schedule I could go on and time to stretch. As a reliever, you never know when you are going in so I guess that is the biggest adjustment I had to make.

How do you make that adjustment when you are throwing 25 pitches or so as a starter and now you have to figure out what works to get in the game and be crisp right away?

Matt Teague: Usually, stretch in between innings. If there is a pitcher struggling, I tried to get loose while he was struggling so if they did call on me I would be ready.

One of the things I noticed is that you have quickened up your delivery.

Matt Teague: I always thought that if I was an outfielder or a shortstop I would want the game to be quick because my attention would be on the game as opposed to having their minds wander. That is why I try and have a good tempo.

Was there something specific you went to instructs to work on?

Matt Teague: Just not going over my head when I step back – I wanted to take that away because sometimes I would be off-balance. Also, I was stiffening up my front leg. Sometimes I would collapse on it and it would cause my ball to be one-plane rather than on an downhill plane.

Most of the pitchers seem to be going over their head to gain balance yet you say it is throwing you off. Any reason why?

Matt Teague: I get going too fast. I step back and my hands get going over my head and my body gets out in front of my hands and arm. Then it is up to my arms and hands to catch up.

One thing we have talked about in the past is throwing too many strikes. When you look back at this past season, do you feel like you did a better job of expanding the zone?

Matt Teague: Not really. I kind of struggled over the first half of the season – more than I wanted to. That was largely because when I got to two strikes – and I didn't have a problem getting to two strikes – my execution of the next pitch wasn't where it needed to be until after the All-Star break when I was pretty much totally in relief. I started to be able to get them to chase, throw a waste pitch.

What was the difference for you – was it a mentality thing?

Matt Teague: It was. I kept telling myself that ‘when you get two strikes, know what you want to do. I don't have to throw a strike with this next pitch. I can get them to chase.'

When you look back at the season as a whole, do you view it as a success?

Matt Teague: I do. I figured if I was going to progress it probably was going to be in the bullpen anyway as a left-handed reliever. I figured that was going to help me. I will already have that relief experience.

You mentioned execution of pitches and you are a guy with a lot of movement on your stuff. Is there something specific you are trying to shore up?

Matt Teague: Mainly the slider. When I am trying to strike someone out, I am trying to throw it on top of the plate – aiming for a corner or the back right foot of the hitter. That is where I want it to end up at. Repeating that to yourself and making it happen.

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