TigsTown Q&A: RHP Pat Stanley

After being signed by the Tigers in the fall of 2008, Pat Stanley had a strong debut season with the organization. Stanley talked with TigsTown's Managing Editor Mark Anderson about his season, about his season and a surprise hiccup in his off-season plans.

TigsTown: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. First things first, you were eligible for minor league free agency this month, have you re-signed with the organization?

Pat Stanley: Well, I'm not sure if you are aware, but I had surgery at the end of the season; on my labrum.

TT: That said, you are obviously just in the beginning stages of your rehab, but how is it going so far?

PS: Actually, it's going fantastic. I had surgery on the first of September in Detroit. It was excellent the way they took care of me and got everything set up for me. It was really amazing. I couldn't have asked for anything better. I've been doing physical therapy basically since day one. I guess I'm on about week nine or ten right now, and range of motion is just about completely back. I've started weight training. The physical therapist has done a couple of reports, and all of them have been excellent, and he says I'm ahead of where the average person would be. I'm very, very optimistic.

TT: I'm glad to hear you are doing well with your rehab. Getting back to the initial question then, are the Tigers waiting to see how your recovery goes, or are you holding off, waiting to see what happens?

PS: I'm focused pretty much on my first priority, getting back to full strength and getting my arm back. It doesn't really matter what anybody could offer me if my arm isn't strong enough and healthy enough to pitch. That's my focus right now. Luckily, I have a very good agent who is handling the other end. In terms of re-signing, I'm familiar with how the free agent process works, and right now, I'm approaching each day as if I'll be back in spring training with the Tigers. If something else happens, then it happens, but I'm hoping to be in Lakeland come March.

TT: It would be great to have you back out there in the spring.

PS: To be honest with you, I can't say enough about the organization, with Dan Lunetta and Glen Ezell. They called me last year to sign me, and everybody has been great. The coaches, including Ray Burris and Joe Coleman this year, have been excellent to learn from. [Burris] was very instrumental in my development and he took a lot of time to work with me to get me where I need to be. When I had this problem with my arm, the trainers have been great. They've taken great care of me and had my best interests in mind. That's definitely an organization that I want to be a part of.

TT: Looking at the 2009 season a bit, you started the year in Lakeland and you went up to Erie and Toledo at various points. What were the keys to your success last season, and what allowed you to make such a rapid progression?

PS: Pretty much taking the approach of going day by day. God blessed me to put me with the Tigers and have that opportunity. I just had to control what I could control, and that's make pitches on the mound. I utilized the information from the coaches at each level. Talking with Joe Coleman down in High-A when I got back in affiliated ball, he was great. The call up to Triple-A was amazing, as I'd never been there before. The opportunity to become a starter that was always where I was most comfortable. It was just about going with the flow. Whenever they ask me to pitch, I'll pitch. Wherever they tell me to pitch, I'll pitch. I think that mindset was able to keep me more consistent in previous years; especially my stint with the Rockies.

TT: Speaking a little bit of what allowed you to have success this year, for our readers out there that may not be familiar with what you bring to the table in terms of your arsenal and your approach on the mound, how would you describe yourself as a pitcher?

PS: I throw a majority fastballs. I try to attack hitters using both sides of the plate, especially inside. I try to get outs early. If I get ahead in the counts, then depending on the situation, my primary out pitch has been my slider, but this year my curveball – a 12-to-6 – really came along. If my slider wasn't as tight that day, I could go to the curveball, and that was big for me. The change-up, I started to get more comfortable with at the end of the year. I've never been much of a change-up pitcher, so when it comes to game time, it's a little difficult to throw your fourth best pitch.

TT: You mentioned in a side conversation there pitching through pain this season, a lot of times that's something I don't think fans understand all the time. Even when you are in pain on the mound or in the field, it's not always easy to go fess up and say you're hurting. Did you struggle with that in your mind, whether you should go tell someone that your arm was hurting, or did you just buck up and try to pitch through it?

PS: I let the people that need to know, know. I let it be known too that as long as I could pitch and compete, as long as they saw I was competing, that I wanted to continue pitching. It's one of those things, I put all my faith in God, that whatever needs to happen, will happen. If for some reason that meant I needed to pitch through pain, then so bet it; I was going to do it until I couldn't pitch any more. It was all I could stand when they finally put me on the disabled list. I trusted in that, and I trusted that when the adrenaline kicked in, I would be fine. I thought I was still able to see good things from it. Without that pain I wouldn't have been able to make necessary changes in my mechanics, so out of all that, good things came. I had to get surgery, but I think that the changes I am making will not only help keep me healthy, but will also increase my abilities.

TT: As we mentioned before, you pitched across those three different levels this year, what were the major differences you saw between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A?

PS: Everybody is talented, so just because you have success at higher levels, that doesn't always mean you'll have success at lower levels, it's weird. One thing I noticed with hitters, they tend to swing more freely in High-A. They still do it a little in Double-A, and much less in Triple-A. In talking with guys up there, and the limited action I saw up there, you could tell guys were looking for more pitches in Triple-A; they weren't just swinging at the first pitch they liked. In actuality, if you have good control, it can almost be a little easier at the higher levels. Sometimes in High-A, you'll see a guy swing at pitches and getting a hit, and in your head you're saying they shouldn't even be swinging at that pitch. The flip side, in High-A you can make some mistakes, at Triple-A, you really can't at all.

TT: Going back to a little bit of your time before you were with the Tigers, you spent two years with the Rockies organization. How would you compare and contrast the two franchises in terms of developmental philosophies or your experience?

PS: I don't know if I can really compare to be honest with you, because I was a different person then. I was a little more immature when I first signed. I think I let too many things get to me back then. It seemed to come and go quickly with the Rockies. It was a learning experience, and it definitely got me to the places I needed to be. The Tigers, they have been excellent. I couldn't have asked for anything more, especially from guys like Pitching Coordinator Jon Matlack. They talk to you. They let you know what they are thinking and what they expect of you, which is really helpful not being kept in the dark. All of the coaches, their experience alone tells you how qualified they are, but just being able to work with you, to simplify things, to be able to suggest changes mid-season before an appearance, I think that all really helped me put up good numbers and to have success. I don't know any other organizations and if they are like that, but I know the Tigers gave me the best chance to succeed.

TT: In your understanding, what led to your release from the Colorado organization?

PS: I didn't put up good numbers. Both years I was really up and down. The first half of the year, my stats weren't good, and then I would turn it on in the second half and do well. Both years I was a reliever, but I don't think I ever embraced the role at that time. They never really explained why I was released. I got hooked up with a couple of good independent teams afterward. I was able to get some innings there that were needed to hone my skills.

TT: You mentioned going to the indy leagues after being released from affiliated ball, and you had an extremely successful season in 2008 with Newark that led to your signing with the Tigers, but many of the indy league players the Tigers have signed that I've spoken with have raved about their experience playing there. How would you describe your three years there outside of just being able to get innings?

PS: I think that both teams I played for were run very, very well. The Washington Wild Things in the Frontier League, I played with them for two years in 2006 and well, in 2007 I had to have a rib removed, but the general manager and staff ran a very professional team. The way the coaching staff prepares you for games, the way they talk to you, it was a very, very good atmosphere to be in; especially coming off just being released. They had some older guys – some guys that played in Double-A and Triple-A – on the team, that you could go talk to and learn from. That was a good experience. With Newark, by them giving me a chance to start and to face the level of competition up there; I mean you're facing former Major League All-Stars up there; guys like Carl Everett, Jay Gibbons. You have a lot of talent that you are facing and a lot of talent on your own team to talk to, and to learn from. I think both experiences were major stepping stones to get where I am now and to get signed by the Tigers.

TT: Here's your chance for the final word, Patrick. Any final thoughts for our readers?

PS: I thank God for everything that's happened to me, but I also know that I wouldn't be where I am now with out my family. The support my parents and my brothers have given me has allowed me to pursue my dream of pitching in the big leagues. Without a family like mine, there's no way with the ups and downs I've had, that I would have been able to continue on. Also my coaches, two in particular, Steve Hayward and Bill Henderson, were very instrumental in my growth as a pitcher. I know I had to have surgery, and a lot of times people would think you would be down about that, but I'm actually very optimistic and looking forward to getting back with the Tigers and moving closer to pitching in Detroit.

TigsTown would like to thank Patrick for taking the time out of his off-season to speak with us, and also congratulate him on a fine 2009 season. Good luck in 2010, Patrick!

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