Pirates Prospect Interview: Bryan Morris

Bryan Morris has adjusted well to bullpen duty at Double A Altoona. Morris allowed a run for the first time since June 19 on Thursday. In his previous eight appearances, Morris had struck out 15 in 15 scoreless innings. Since his permanent placement in the bullpen, his ERA has gone from 6.04 as a starter to 3.52 as a reliever. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko spoke with Morris recently.

GVB – What was your initial reaction to being moved to the bullpen?

BM – Well it wasn't a sudden move, we've been talking about it for a couple weeks before it actually happened. When I pulled my oblique in the the beginning of the year I went in the bullpen and I was throwing out of the bullpen to kind of get back in the swing of things and I felt comfortable out of the bullpen and it was allowing me to get on the mound more often than I would as a starter. When Jim Benedict our pitching coordinator came into town a couple weeks later we talked about it and that's when we decided it was better for me to get more time on the mound than every fifth day. I wasn't shocked and I wasn't disappointed – I completely agreed with the change and so far it's working for me.

GVB – Are you pleased with the results so far coming out of the bullpen?

BM – I just took it as a good opportunity to open up my opportunities as a pitcher and it's actually been a pretty easy transition. Last year at the end of the year when they cut my innings down they moved me to the bullpen and I had three or four outings at the end of the year out of the pen, so that's where the adjustment came from. It took me a couple outings last year to figure out – okay how do I get myself ready every day? How do I keep myself from going crazy in the game waiting on the call if I'm pitching or not? This year it's been a lot easier for me and I'm a lot more relaxed out of the bullpen and so far I've really enjoyed it.

GVB – What situations are you being used in out of the bullpen?

BM – Most of the times I've come in around the sixth or seventh inning. Not necessarily as the setup man – we've got a couple of guys that have been relievers for awhile that were setup guys and closers, so I'm not coming in and taking anybody's spot. I'm basically in middle relief right now.

GVB – Bucs GM Neal Huntington said recently "One of our scouts came forward and said our best bullpen acquisition may be Bryan Morris if he can continue to do what he saw him do in two outings," general manager Neal Huntington said just prior to the All-Star break. "It's two power breaking balls, 93 to 97 (miles per hour). Somebody's got to start at the big league level, so we don't want to push all of our prospects to the bullpen because we have a bullpen need. But in the interim, Bryan continues to pitch well and could put himself in the middle of our bullpen picture at some point this year." That's pretty high praise.

BM – It gives me a lot of confidence that scouts said that about me and it gives me confidence that Neal has those feelings towards me. Obviously I hope to continue to be successful out of the bullpen. My time being called out – I just try to do my job and keep the team at the score they were at before I came into the game.

GVB – Looking at the long haul, do you have any limitations on what your role might be coming out of the bullpen?

BM – I don't really think there's any limitations for me out of the bullpen. My main concern right now is continuing to be consistent with my mechanics and with my pitches. If I can continue learning how to be consistent in my mechanics and my pitches I feel like I can fit just about any role.

GVB – What is your pitch repertoire coming out of the bullpen?

BM – In relief I've been using my slider and my curveball more than I did as a starter, because it's later in the game and guys are a little more comfortable at the plate because they've had a couple at bats. Especially at this level they are more apt to swing first pitch and I'm just learning how to use my breaking pitches early in the at bat and at anytime during the count. Still trying to continue fastball command, that's the biggest issue for a pitcher is having fastball command, that's still a problem, but I've been able to throw my two breaking balls at any point in the count and that has really helped me along.

GVB – You were acquired July 31, 2008, along with Andy LaRoche from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the three-team trade that sent Jason Bay to Boston. Has the specter of that trade put any added pressure on you or are you past that?

BM – The trade was three-years ago, well going on four-years now and I've gotten past that whole thing. My job is to do whatever I can do and the best I can do to make this organization better. Whatever I can do to make the organization better, that's what I try to do and I don't think anything about the trade and I don't think anything about me being the last person left from the trade. All that stuff that plays out itself and I can't control any of that.

GVB – You are doing well are you hoping to move up the ladder or do you try to not concern yourself with that?

BM – That's part of the growing aspect. Me over the past few years I used to think about that and I've always wanted to be a big league pitcher, so I've always put pressure on myself to move up the system as fast as I can. But now it's all about what I can do today to make myself better and to make the organization better. Whenever the organization feels it's right for me to move up then I'll move up, but until then I'll just keep working hard and be happy for the opportunity that I'm getting.

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