The 16th round draft pick and former Michigan State standout was put into the starting rotation in late May after an impressive stint out of the bullpen, going 1-0 with a 1.01 ERA over 26 2/3 innings. He made four starts with the Whitecaps, compiling a 1.57 ERA, and also made a spot start at Double-A Erie before more shoulder problems landed him on the DL. He was out five weeks before making a start Aug. 1, pitching three perfect innings on 27 pitches against Peoria in a limited outing. I caught up with him following his outing.
TigsTown: Explain your injury and why you ended up on DL.
Jeff Gerbe: I was doing my same off-season weightlifting program during the season. Early on it was fine when i was in the bullpen just because I get more rest and less stressful innings. Once I got moved to starting I kept up the same routine because it seemed to work for me. i wasn't providing myself enough time to recover. It finally caught up with me and I developed some tendonitis.
TT: How frustrating was it to get put on the DL just as you were starting to get on a roll and have some success?
JG: Especially two years in a row with this crap, it's frustrating. in my last start I could feel something wasn't right. I think I pitched the last two innings just out of straight anger, knowing after that game that I had to be shut down. it's very promising getting back out there and performing though.
TT: You were a higher round draft pick, where expectations aren't as high, yet you have made yourself into a top prospect with your performance so far. What was your mentality going into this season? Did you feel you had something to prove?
JG: As soon as I got hurt last year and ended with my numbers I was just ticked at myself. That gave me a lot of motivation going into this year. I got on a good off-season weight training program and really hammered out some mechanical flaws I had. I did what I felt was necessary to perform this year. In my mind I knew that I was better than what I did last year and I just wanted to show the Tigers that I can produce for them.
TT: You've had a rare situation in that you've played your high school (Utica Eisenhower), college, and some of your pro ball in Michigan, close to home. What has that been like for you?
JG: It's been great because when I was in New York my family didn't get to see me play and even in college they didn't get to see me play all that much with the drive and my brothers and sisters and their sports and other activities to deal with. It's nice that it gives my parents an opportunity to come see me
TT: Do you get a lot of family coming out to your games?
JG: My uncle and my cousin came here today. I've had a good amount show up.
TT: Is that a good feeling knowing you've got supporters in the stands?
JG: Yea, you don't want to disappoint. A little extra motivation never hurt.
TT: Were you a Tigers fan growing up?
JG: Oh yea, oh yea.
TT: Was it pretty exciting then when the Tigers drafted you?
JG: Oh yea, definitely. I knew they were interested going into the draft. There were two or three teams I was looking at, thinking about and they were one of them. When they picked me I was ecstatic.
TT: Being an hour away from East Lansing do you keep in touch with any of the coaches or anyone else over there?
JG: I keep in touch with a lot of the players. I've got some good buddies that are still there. A couple of them are doing really well.
TT: What are your goals for the rest of this season with about a month left?
JG: Finish healthy and try to perform to put us in a position to win a championship.
TT: Finally, (Whitecaps Media Relations Coordinator) Ryan Alexander was telling me you really have an affinity for Dipping Dots, that they'll get you to do a lot of stuff by offering Dipping Dots.
JG: (Laughs) Yea, he'll say "Hey Gerbe, we need someone for an appearance. "
"Well, I don''t know."
"We'll give you Dipping Dots."
"What can I say, they're pretty good."