RC Interview with Erik Cordier

Ask any scout about the Royals' top pitching prospects, and it won't take long for the conversation to turn to Erik Cordier. After missing most of the 2005 season with a knee injury, the 6-3, 215 lbs. righty is back with a vengence. In seven starts between Idaho Falls and Burlington, Cordier has dominated to the tune of a 2.31 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 35 IP. RC spoke with Cordier on Thursday.

Royals Corner: Erik, how do you feel about the season so far? I know you started at Idaho and had a few starts there, but moved up to Burlington pretty quickly. What do you think so far?

Erik Cordier: I'm just very excited where I'm at right now. I'm grateful to have this opportunity to be here in Burlington. It seemed like a bit of a trial period for a while at the beginning of the year, being down at Arizona during extended spring training and dealing with the heat, and going through that for a second time. But I learned a lot of stuff, even more stuff this year than I had in years past, and I think my progression has come along pretty good. In Idaho Falls, Jose Bautista is a great pitching coach – I love that guy – and we worked really well together. And it was a good two and a half weeks I had there. As I've come here, it's a little different with the humidity. Idaho is a little dry, Arizona is pretty dry, but it's been fun so far.

RC: You missed a couple of starts recently with a blister. Has that completely healed?

EC: It seems like it. If it wasn't healed, I wouldn't be on the mound. From what we can tell, it looks like it's pretty good right now. The humidity [in Burlington] is the biggest thing. My hand sweats and the skin softens, and that's what been giving me problems. But hopefully we've got the problem figured out. We'll see tomorrow for sure.

RC: Are you on a pitch count tomorrow?

EC: I'm not 100 percent sure. They don't tell me that. My last outing, I was. This one, I think we're just going to see. Probably not, but maybe a slightly limited – maybe to 80 or so. But really, it's on me. If I start to feel any discomfort, pain, or heat in my fingertips where something feels like it's forming, I'm going to let the trainers know. I'm not going to push it.

RC: You missed nearly all of last season with a knee problem. Do you feel any lingering effects, or is that completely healed?

EC: Absolutely no lingering effects. I actually feel better now that the surgery's taken place and I've gone through rehab. Things have been outstanding as far as how the knee has progressed from where it was before the injury to where it is now. With the rehab, it's really come along well, and I honestly feel like I'm a better athlete now than I was before I had the surgery.

RC: Could you tell us a little bit about your repertoire? What pitches do you throw, and what speeds do you generally work at?

EC: Fastball, curveball, change-up. I consider my change-up my best offspeed pitch. My curveball is kind of a work in progress. I have a pretty good one when I throw it correctly, but a consistent release point is kind of hard to come by sometimes. I'm getting used to a slightly different curveball. Originally I threw my curveball from a different arm slot, and you can't get away with that at a higher level. So I've been coming up with a few adjustments to get a little better one from a more consistent arm slot. Like I said, my change-up is my best offspeed pitch – that's what I live on. As for my fastball, I can work 92-93, normally, and on a good day 93-95. When things are going good, things are going good, and I just ride that thing out until it's not there anymore.

Cordier's change-up is frequently described as "filthy"

RC: So would you say your curveball is the pitch that probably still needs the most work?

EC: Definitely. More consistency is definitely the key thing. But as I've been working on it in extended and in Idaho, and especially now that I'm working on it here with the pitching coach, Steve Luebber, things have been coming along and progressing better and better every day. Mike Mason was in town, and we worked on it a little bit with him again, as we did in Arizona and Idaho, and it's been getting progressively better. It's only a matter of time before I get it locked in.

RC: Could you tell us a little bit about your five-day routine? Just kind of take us through what you do on each day working up to your start, such as when you throw your side sessions. That seems to be something that people are always pretty curious about.

EC: On the first day, which is obviously the day after you pitch, you have a full body lift and some conditioning on the field before the game. On the second day, you have a bullpen and some regular conditioning such as sprints. The next day, you've got another lift and some more conditioning on the field – usually pulls and things like that. The fourth day is more light, very short sprints, and you get ready to go at it on the next day.

RC: Have you noticed any kind of change in that routine since Dayton Moore took over? For instance, has your throwing program changed at all?

EC: No, no changes as of yet. I would assume that he wouldn't change it in the middle of the season. I would think that if any changes did come they would at spring training next year. As of right now, everything is exactly the same as it was, as far as conditioning programs, weight lifting programs, throwing programs…All of that has been exactly the same. Like I said, I would assume if there are any changes they'll be made next year.

RC: What are your goals for the remainder of the season?

EC: I just want to go out and keep putting up zeros. So far, here in the Midwest League, although once in a while I've gotten a little inconsistent in and out of the zone, I've still been able to throw up some zeros. I'm just going to keep going out and competing. That's all I can really do. I have no major expectations with my individual numbers. My main goal isn't to go out and put up a 2.00 ERA even though our team's losing all the time. I'd like to be able to help get this team back into a chance at a playoff run, but we'll see what happens with that.

RC: I understand you're from northern Wisconsin. Where did you pitch, and what did you do to get drafted? I know it's pretty hard to get noticed up there. There aren't many second round picks who come out of Wisconsin, especially when you actually have to drive south just to get to Green Bay.

EC: Yeah, I'm a monster cheesehead. I'll have to say that, even though they struggled last year. I'm a huge Brett Favre fan, even though he struggled last year – I just have to throw that in there. Anyway, my family helped me out a lot with that. My mom and my dad, they really did an amazing thing for me, helping to bring me around the country to different showcases. My dad did a lot of stuff to help me get onto travel teams and things like that when I was younger. If it wasn't for that, there's no way I'd be where I am right now. Getting that exposure by going to showcases and performing well was great, and once that happened, the scouts came to me my senior year and tried to figure out where [Sturgeon Bay] was on the map – even though some did get lost. But really, it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for my family putting forth the effort to drive and fly me around the country and put up the money in order to get me into the showcases. I owe them a lot.

RC: Thanks a lot, Erik. Thanks for doing the interview, and I wish you the best of luck for the rest of the year.

EC: Thank you very much.

Editor's note: Cordier was in fact on a pitch count during his start on Friday, and he threw four innings, surrendering two hits and a pair of runs (one earned) while walking two and striking out five. Reports are that his fastball hit 97 several times and 98 twice, and his change-up was nasty. Also, we're pleased to report that the blister problem he experienced earlier was described as "no longer an issue at all" after his start.

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