Coming off a successful stint with the Rangers last season, 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Josh Rupe certainly didn't have a picture-perfect 2007 campaign.
After making just seven starts with Triple-A Oklahoma, the prospect was shut down for the season with arm problems. Rupe eventually underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow. The injury was similar to the one that caused Rupe to miss nearly half of his 2006 season.
Rupe was able to make his return to the mound in late-August, appearing in two games for the Rookie level Arizona Rangers. The hurler tossed three innings of one-hit, shutout ball. He walked one and struck out three.
Though he was scheduled to pitch for the Surprise Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, Rupe informed Lone Star Dugout on Monday afternoon that he would not be pitching this offseason. Lone Star Dugout has a question-and-answer session with the Virginia Beach native.
Jason Cole: Where are you right now?
Josh Rupe: I am in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Cole: Will you be attending instructionals before you go to the Arizona Fall League?
Rupe: Actually, I am not going to the Fall League.
Cole: Aren't you on the roster for the Fall League?
Rupe: I think I am. It has been a decision that was made in the last couple of days. I've been talking to Thad [Levine] and trying to figure out exactly what I was going to do. It was finalized this afternoon that I'm not going to go.
Cole: Have the Rangers said why you aren't going?
Rupe: With me coming back and getting everything fired up at the end of the year, throwing, and my arm getting hot, they chose not to bring me up the last month of the season. They said something about the Fall League and then I came home and shut it down for a couple of weeks. We don't want to risk something happening from me coming back from surgery, shutting it down, and then starting back up again. We want to be healthy for next year, that's the most important thing. I think just resting it for now and getting ready for next year will be the best thing to do.
Cole: How does your arm feel right now?
Rupe: It feels good, it feels great.
Cole: How does your arm feel this year versus last year?
Rupe: When I was throwing in Arizona, it was the first time I've thrown without pain in probably a year and a half to two years.
Cole: Was this your first surgery?
Rupe: Yes, this is my first one.
Cole: I take it you have noticed a difference between having surgery and just resting it?
Rupe: Oh yeah definitely. I've rested it before and it just kind of flared up. Last year in spring training I had this kind of thing and I just kind of rested it and came back. It bothered me a little bit, but I was able to pitch with it the last couple of months of last year. This year I had the same thing come back again and it was something I needed to get taken care of. I got it taken care of and I'm happy with what I did. At the end of the year, throwing down in Arizona, everything was great. My velocity is almost back and it feels really good.
Cole: You made two rehab appearances in Arizona. How long had you been throwing off the mound before that?
Rupe: Before that it was probably a week and a half to two weeks. I probably threw four or five bullpens.
Cole: Were you able to focus on anything other than building your arm strength in the bullpens?
Rupe: Not really. I have my little points that I need to harp on and make sure I do right. The main thing was just building arm strength and getting back to where I can pitch in a game.
Cole: What exactly are the little points that you mention?
Rupe: I have certain checkpoints that I do as far as where my balance point is and making sure that I'm linear and not going from side-to-side. Little things like that.
Cole: Do you have any idea what role the Rangers will put you in next season?
Rupe: I'm sure I'll come into spring training as a starter just because it's easier to come in as a starter and try to build my innings up that way. Then if they need me in the pen, they'll put me in the pen rather than start me off as a bullpen guy that throws one or two innings.
Cole: Since you aren't pitching anywhere this offseason, what are you planning on doing to stay in shape?
Rupe: Just normal stuff. I'll be running and I have a gym now where I live. I'm just kind of here doing my workout and keeping up the rehab stuff that I did in Arizona. I'm trying to get it as strong as I possibly can. I'll probably start throwing off a mound before Christmas, maybe the first of December. It'll give me plenty of time to be nice and easy and get my arm strength up for spring training.
Cole: You were only able to make seven starts at Triple-A Oklahoma this year. Did you feel you ever able to develop there in any way?
Rupe: I think every time you pitch, you learn something about yourself and you develop. This year I was hurting, throwing 82-84 miles per hour. I learned a little bit about how to pitch instead of just rearing back and throwing it 93-94. It had its disadvantages as far as I wasn't the normal me, but it does help the mental side knowing that I wasn't going to have my best stuff. It helped me learn to pitch a little bit.
Cole: Have you set any goals for the next year?
Rupe: Definitely to stay healthy. That is goal number one. That goal is going to require a lot of smaller goals of me doing my part on the rehab here by myself. Also making sure my body gets in the shape it needs to be so I am able to carry the load of a full season now that I'm kind of back to square one now that my arm is healthy and nothing in there is bothering me.
Plans change for Rupe
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