Padres Prospect Interview: Erik Davis

Fort Wayne, IN: Erik Davis has been working hard. He is trying to get quicker to home while improving his changeup. Given his impressive work out of the windup, fastball command and plus changeup, those two could move him from solid and steady on the mound to filthy.

The changing roles – last year you mentioned going from relief to starting was a bit of a challenge, understanding how your body reacts, the routines, the nuances. How has it been this year, going through much of the same things.

Erik Davis: It is not too much different because they started me out in a tandem role – kind of like a half starter. They gave me an opportunity to step into that starting role. It feels good to be recognized.

Is there a different pre-game routine you go through to get ready?

Erik Davis: It is different when you don't know when you are going to pitch as a reliever. I like knowing when I am going to pitch because it gives me time to prepare. It takes me a day or two before I start getting into it. As a reliever, you have to change that because you always need to be ready. It is not one of those things where you can take a day off. I like being able to know when I am going to pitch. It helps me prepare.

You mentioned the ‘Mental Game of Baseball' – how often do you go back to a book like that continue the teaching process?

Erik Davis: It is a way to bring myself into doing the right things. If I feel like I am doing something wrong, I will go back to that to set myself straight. It is a good tool – not the only thing I use because I talk to the coaches and other players too. It is good to have to help me set me straight when I feel like I am wavering.

You have been a ground ball pitcher but don't necessarily have many double play grounders. Are you pitching people differently with men on base?

Erik Davis: I wouldn't say so – that is kind of a good question. It is a little frustrating that I am not getting the ground balls when I need to.

I think it has more to do with my stuff in the windup versus out of the stretch. I definitely think it is something I need to work on – getting myself up to par as far as stretch compared to windup. I have had more success in the windup than out of the stretch. That is something I need to keep working on. Once I get more comfortable with that, I will be able to get a few more double plays.

Is it two different pitching mechanics?

Erik Davis: I don't think so. I think it is just a comfort level. In the windup, I control everything. There is no running game to bring me out of focus. That is something you have to deal with.

Does it become mechanical where the arm goes in front of the body while your mind is thinking more about a runner?

Erik Davis: I have been working on getting quicker to the plate so that might have something to do with it. The reality is it should be no different.

Last year, you also mentioned the stuff wasn't there. Do you feel like now that you have had an offseason that everything has returned to where you want it?

Erik Davis: I have been working on my curveball a lot this year so the location of my changeup isn't exactly where I want it to be right now because I have been throwing more curveballs than before. I am really pleased with the progress it has made. I am starting to get swings and misses inside the zone, which is something I really wasn't getting before. Now, it is about bringing all three pitches together.

When you are working on a pitch, how many different grips do you work on?

Erik Davis: I know what grip I want to use – I have been able to throw it for strikes but it is about locating it in the zone and burying it with two strikes – which has been the biggest problem. I have been able to get show-me curveballs over for strikes but the biggest problem is the 0-2 or 1-2 curveball and throwing it in the bottom of the zone. I will keep working on that and, hopefully, by the end of the year, I will have a better feel for that.

Is that the biggest key to taking your game to the next level?

Erik Davis: I think so. What I tell myself is if my changeup location isn't as good as it can be, I can get that back in an outing or two if I throw it more. What is more important is getting my curveball up to where my fastball and changeup are. I will keep working on that. When I start doing that, I can put five or six good starts in a row.

Was there a point where you felt like everyone was stealing off you and that is why you had to get quicker to the plate?

Erik Davis: No, I talked to Robert (Lara) and (Adam) Zornes. I have been a 1.5 (seconds to home) guy and am trying to get down to 1.3. As good as they are, I am not giving them much of a chance to get anyone out. I feel bad because it looks bad on me and also looks bad on them.

That is something I need to work on. If I can get better, it is one less thing I need to worry about.

Is it more important now to work on the stuff out of the stretch or the quickness? You might sacrifice the stuff and leave a pitch up – it may not matter if the guy is running or not.

Erik Davis: That is a good question. I think my stuff is good enough to get away with stuff up in the zone more often than not.

At the same time, I think if I can get one problem out of the way, that is an easier way to go about it.

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