Padres Prospect Interview: Cesar Carrillo

Cesar Carrillo has learned a bit of perspective over the last two years. On the cusp of making the San Diego Padres, Carrillo was injured and has been on a long road back. He finally feels he is at a stage where he can dominate again.

You were on the fast track to San Diego after getting drafted. Has the injury and subsequent surgery given you any sense of urgency?

Cesar Carrillo: Not really, If I have any sense of urgency it's just getting back to where I was before health-wise and throwing strikes and command and that's basically it.

Last year, command was an issue. Do you feel you have now returned to form and 2009 will be the season we see the Carrillo of pre-surgery?

Cesar Carrillo: Yeah, I feel like every time I go in for my bullpen sessions or every time I go out on the mound, I get better and better. I start to locate more and my pitches start to get crisper, my changeup is starting to get a little bit better. It's still spring training and hopefully by whenever they want me to go, I'm ready to go.

What were you able to learn about the game of baseball from being on the sidelines?

Cesar Carrillo: It gave me a different perspective. I mean everything happens for a reason, even like you said, I was on the fast track and everything was going quickly. Maybe it just wasn't time yet. Maybe I had to step back and work a little harder and get to where I needed to be and appreciate it a little bit more.

Do you look at it as almost a blessing in the sense that it happened in your minor-league career? And it didn't happen in the majors?

Cesar Carrillo: Yeah, you could say that because it could have been a lot different if it happened in the majors. I could have been written off right away. But I'm right here and people are still expecting a lot of things from me, and they haven't seen anything yet. There's still a lot of expectations that I want to accomplish.

The last few starts in Lake Elsinore seemed to show the progress you made – did you feel it coming back to you at the end of the year?

Cesar Carrillo: The velocity is finally getting back. I can remember to that Petco start that the velocity was there. It was good. It's just a process and I don't want to get ahead of myself. I'm just taking it one step at a time.

Did it surprise you coming back at the end of the year when maybe you were a little tired?

Cesar Carrillo: It was good. I actually rode into the fall league so it was a good thing. I rode into the fall league with a little more confidence that my stuff is there I just have to work on location.

Talk about the Arizona Fall League experience and what that meant to you?

Cesar Carrillo: It was a great experience. Finally facing that competition, it was the same competition that I was facing before I got hurt. It was a good test to see where I was. It felt good going out there and competing with them. I felt normal. It was a great experience.

It seemed right-handers were getting to you a little more than in the past – was that one particular pitch that wasn't coming back as quickly as you hoped?

Cesar Carrillo: Maybe it was because I was working on trying to get that fastball away. It was a process that I was working on even before I got hurt. It was just a struggle to get that ball away. But hopefully when everything is said and done that pitch will be my go to pitch.

Several players have mentioned that they found a pitch after Tommy John. Did you feel like you also found a pitch that might have been borderline before the injury?

Cesar Carrillo: My changeup. In college, I had a changeup that was good, but it wasn't as consistent as it is now.

You were added to the 40-man roster. What does that mean to you?

Cesar Carrillo: It was a good feeling. They noticed that I put in my time and my work to get back to where I needed to be. They still see a lot of expectations in me, and it's a good feeling knowing that I've accomplished a little bit of what I set out to accomplish. Now my goal is just to go out there and be the pitcher that I was before I got injured; just going out there and competing every time.

You received an invite to major league camp. In what ways has it and will it benefit you?

Cesar Carrillo: It means a lot to me especially coming off of surgery and being out for two years, even being put on the 40-man is a big honor. It's an accomplishment coming from surgery, you don't know what's going to happen you might not even be able to throw again. You're rewarded by being put on the 40 and for your hard work and you know you're putting your time in.

You got to rub elbows with a lot of great pitchers up there. What were they able to tell you. What did you take away from that?

Cesar Carrillo: Just to be confident out there, and keep throwing strikes. There's a lot of opportunity. Just go out there and try to do your best every time out and you never know what could happen.

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