Phelps Going For Gold

ROCHESTER, NY - In about two weeks, many Americans will have their eyes set on Michael Phelps as he tries to swim his way to another gold medal. For the New York Yankees, the team is focusing more on another Phelps, David Phelps, as he makes the transition back to a starting pitcher.

To many it was a surprise seeing Phelps begin the year working in the bullpen with the Major League Yankees as opposed to starting in the minor leagues, which he did throughout his four previous seasons.

"I was surprised with the amount of talent we have in this organization and the talent they have in the big leagues but to get an opportunity, I obviously was happy with whatever role it would be just to be up there," the right-handed pitcher said.

In Spring Training, Phelps worked out of the bullpen and his strong performance led him to earning a spot with the Major League team.

"I was fortunate enough in Spring Training to get good amount of opportunities to get in quick," he added.

For Phelps, the transition to relief pitcher took some getting used to and that included staying loose in between innings since he never knew when they would call his number.

"The biggest thing for me was having to adjust to how I warm up," the University of Notre Dame standout said. "With being a starter you got a half hour before the game but [in the] bullpen you sometimes have five minutes."

Phelps quickly learned that pitching in relief required him to be alert and disciplined when entering a game in either a new inning or a difficult jam.

"Your focus has to be on point from the first pitch where as a starter you can kind of feel the game out a little bit and kind of build as you seem going," Phelps said. "But when you come out of the bullpen sometimes you got other guys on base and you can't let those cash in and you have to be on point from the get go."

So far this season Phelps has played in 15 games with the Yankees and has started three of those. His win/loss record stands at 1 and 3 and is averaging slightly more than one strikeout per inning pitched.

Instead of having spot starts here and there, the Yankees decided to shift Phelps back to the rotation due to injuries along the front end.

"I obviously like to start but I'll do whatever it takes to get back up," he said. "I like being a starter, being in control of my own game and I like to be able to pitch myself out of my own situations rather than coming in with runners on or sometimes you come in the 5th, 6th or 7th inning and the game has already kind of unfolded, so it's nice to be able to be there from the get go."

Through his first four starts in the minor leagues, spanning all three levels, Phelps has not allowed a run. More importantly for him and the organization, it is just going out there and building his pitch count up.

"[The] biggest thing for me is building up my pitches and I think I am up to 100 now, which is huge," he said. "Every time I go out I want to do well. Obviously I'm trying to build up my count, but a goal of mine is first time out I went six and two thirds and threw 84 pitches.

"I think it was and next time it was six and two thirds and 103, so I want to use fewer pitches to get deeper into the game and each time I am up I want to be more efficient with my pitches."

The 6-foot-2 pitcher has a total of five pitches and tries to use all of them throughout the course of the game. His repertoire includes a four-seam and two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.

Besides trying to get his pitch count up, Phelps is working on throwing his change up more regularly now that he's back to starting again.

"I wasn't using it much there [with the New York Yankees], we didn't need it as much since you only go through the lineup one time usually, so you only use your best stuff and I kind of left that one on the shelf a little bit, " the 25-year-old admitted.

No matter what role Phelps has played thus far, the constant of getting the opposition out will always remain.

"You still have to go out and get guys out," he said. "I have not tried to change my approach too much out there and [just] get ahead in the count and attack guys."

In his last start with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, he was able to do just that. He effectively got ahead of batters and was able to make the hitters chase, connecting on seven strikeouts.

"Right now it's my curveball, in the past it's been the slider," Phelps said. "I like to throw all my pitchess when I am ahead and mix it up."

As of now Phelps is on track to start Thursday against the Charlotte Knights. If indeed Phelps does start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or if it is for the New York Yankees, he already knows what he wants to conquer next.

"I just want to keep the momentum I built up and try to keep my team in the game for as long as possible, and hopefully get a little longer than six and two-thirds the next time," he concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nTo many it was a surprise seeing Phelps begin the year working in the bullpen with the Major League Yankees as opposed to starting in the minor leagues, which he did throughout his four previous seasons.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was surprised with the amount of talent we have in this organization and the talent they have in the big leagues but to get an opportunity, I obviously was happy with whatever role it would be just to be up there,\" the right-handed pitcher said.
\r\n
\r\nIn Spring Training, Phelps worked out of the bullpen and his strong performance led him to earning a spot with the Major League team.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was fortunate enough in Spring Training to get good amount of opportunities to get in quick,\" he added.
\r\n
\r\nFor Phelps, the transition to relief pitcher took some getting used to and that included staying loose in between innings since he never knew when they would call his number.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest thing for me was having to adjust to how I warm up,\" the University of Notre Dame standout said. \"With being a starter you got a half hour before the game but [in the] bullpen you sometimes have five minutes.\"
\r\n
\r\nPhelps quickly learned that pitching in relief required him to be alert and disciplined when entering a game in either a new inning or a difficult jam.
\r\n
\r\n\"Your focus has to be on point from the first pitch where as a starter you can kind of feel the game out a little bit and kind of build as you seem going,\" Phelps said. \"But when you come out of the bullpen sometimes you got other guys on base and you can't let those cash in and you have to be on point from the get go.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo far this season Phelps has played in 15 games with the Yankees and has started three of those. His win/loss record stands at 1 and 3 and is averaging slightly more than one strikeout per inning pitched.
\r\n
\r\nInstead of having spot starts here and there, the Yankees decided to shift Phelps back to the rotation due to injuries along the front end.
\r\n
\r\n\"I obviously like to start but I'll do whatever it takes to get back up,\" he said. \"I like being a starter, being in control of my own game and I like to be able to pitch myself out of my own situations rather than coming in with runners on or sometimes you come in the 5th, 6th or 7th inning and the game has already kind of unfolded, so it's nice to be able to be there from the get go.\"
\r\n
\r\nThrough his first four starts in the minor leagues, spanning all three levels, Phelps has not allowed a run. More importantly for him and the organization, it is just going out there and building his pitch count up.
\r\n
\r\n\"[The] biggest thing for me is building up my pitches and I think I am up to 100 now, which is huge,\" he said. \"Every time I go out I want to do well. Obviously I'm trying to build up my count, but a goal of mine is first time out I went six and two thirds and threw 84 pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think it was and next time it was six and two thirds and 103, so I want to use fewer pitches to get deeper into the game and each time I am up I want to be more efficient with my pitches.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe 6-foot-2 pitcher has a total of five pitches and tries to use all of them throughout the course of the game. His repertoire includes a four-seam and two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.
\r\n
\r\nBesides trying to get his pitch count up, Phelps is working on throwing his change up more regularly now that he's back to starting again.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wasn't using it much there [with the New York Yankees], we didn't need it as much since you only go through the lineup one time usually, so you only use your best stuff and I kind of left that one on the shelf a little bit, \" the 25-year-old admitted.
\r\n
\r\nNo matter what role Phelps has played thus far, the constant of getting the opposition out will always remain.
\r\n
\r\n\"You still have to go out and get guys out,\" he said. \"I have not tried to change my approach too much out there and [just] get ahead in the count and attack guys.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn his last start with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, he was able to do just that. He effectively got ahead of batters and was able to make the hitters chase, connecting on seven strikeouts.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now it's my curveball, in the past it's been the slider,\" Phelps said. \"I like to throw all my pitchess when I am ahead and mix it up.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs of now Phelps is on track to start Thursday against the Charlotte Knights. If indeed Phelps does start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or if it is for the New York Yankees, he already knows what he wants to conquer next.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just want to keep the momentum I built up and try to keep my team in the game for as long as possible, and hopefully get a little longer than six and two-thirds the next time,\" he concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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