Interview: Tim Stauffer

WASHINGTON DC: In 2003, the Padres drafted Tim Stauffer out of the University of Richmond with the fourth overall pick. Many draft pundits believed this selection was the closest to a "sure thing" since he was a highly polished college pitcher with a mid-90s fastball, plus change and a very good curve and slider.

In his last year as a Richmond Spider, Stauffer struck out 146 batters in 114 innings, only allowing 87 hits and 25 earned runs.

The troubles began for Stauffer after he was drafted when a shoulder strain caused him to miss time and cost him over half of his bonus, a well documented story in which Stauffer informed the Padres of his medical condition before signing the contract.

Since that time, he has had more ups and downs than the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park in Mission Beach. After being given up for dead, an off-season surgery appears to have put Stauffer back on track and he has put together some solid numbers at San Antonio and Portland before being called up to the pitching depleted Padres where the success has continued.

What has the been the biggest change that has started to put you back on track?

Tim Stauffer: Just being more consistent with pitches and aggressive in the strike zone, especially the fastball. That has been pretty much the extent of it and so far I have had success with it this year.

How much of that can be attributed to finally getting healthy. Everyone that we have talked to has said this is the first time you are really 100 percent in a long time.

Tim Stauffer: Yeah that has been great. It's much more fun just worrying about the game rather than how am I going to feel if I throw this pitch, or if I throw it this way will it be easier on my body but will it still work? It's been a much better year in that respect.

We have talked to your pitching coaches a few times in the past and they have said that even when anyone is fully healthy, after going through what you have been through, it still takes awhile mentally to get over that hump. Is that what has happened to you this year?

Tim Stauffer: You know its somewhat familiar in your mind, but the more the year has gone on, you really think about it less. I've just been on a good roll here lately.

If we go back a few years when you first got drafted, you performed really well then got hurt and it seems like you have spent the past few years trying to come back from injuries.

Tim Stauffer: I wouldn't necessarily blame it on the injuries.

I'm not trying to give you excuses, but when you are hurt its tough to perform.

Tim Stauffer: No, I know but I also wasn't making the pitches that I needed to when I threw them. A lot of times I didn't always feel great, but quite a few guys go through that in their career. It got to a point last year in spring training I had to do something different because it wasn't working or feeling good. I went in and had the surgery and came out of it feeling good.

I haven't interviewed you before, but you come across as a very positive person for the setbacks that you have gone through. How did you stay so positive with all the setbacks that you have gone through?

Tim Stauffer: I knew I wasn't through with playing and didn't want to finish out how my last games had been. I really wanted to just get back out there and play wherever they would put me. It didn't really matter where I started because this is where I wanted to finish.

What do you need to do to stay at this level?

Tim Stauffer: I've been consistent being aggressive in the strike zone and feel that I have a little more life on the ball. I just need to keep doing that.

I've always heard pitchers talk about throwing strikes, but it seems like a lot of people can throw strikes and have them come back faster than they came in. It isn't it more about where you are throwing strikes?

Tim Stauffer: Yeah, I think so. I can throw four pitches for strikes and have just been able to balance them and not allow batters to sit dead red on every pitch.

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