Q&A with Josh Smith

Josh Smith started off the 2004 season as a highly thought of pitching prospect for the Battle Creek Yankees but soon showed some chips in his armor. However, with some outside help and hard work, he was dominating down the stretch for Battle Creek. We can expect bigger things from this former 7th round pick next season after giving us a glimpse of his potential in 2004. We caught up with Josh Smith as he gave us some insight on his game.

PinstripesPlus: When did you start pitching and tell us about some of your early pitching experiences?


Josh Smith: I started pitching when I was 7 I believe. I played on the 11-12 year old Little League team when I was 9 and I pitched and caught with my 12 year old brother. When I was 11 in the all star tournament I was told not to throw this guy a strike and the next pitch ( I didn't like any one telling me not to give a guy a pitch to hit ) the guy hit a home run. I pitched 4 years at Crawford H.S.2 years at Navarro College, and 1 year at The University of Texas.               


PP: Who has been your biggest influence on your pitching career?


JS: I would have to say my parents for all the support, but as far as pitching hands down it is Skip Johnson from Navarro College cause he did so much work with me.


PP: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received as far as pitching?


JS: Keep the ball down, don't be afraid to throw inside, learn to throw soft, and use your pitches.


PP: What would you call the turning point in your career where you became the excellent pitcher you are right now?


JS: Once I got knocked off my high horse and I had to deal with the bad times I learned how much I worked to get where I was and I had lost some focus because I was doing so well, after I broke my wrist it knocked me back to earth and I knew that I had just put a huge bump in my rode. Since then I have had a rough time but I have worked so hard to get where I am at today because I have had to work harder and like this year I had to deal with having a horrible first half and part of the second half, but I never gave up because I knew I was not bad I was just struggling and I fought through weather, weight issue, and mechanics to end the season strong. I had never had failure on the field so to get humbled like I did I believe will only help me in the long run.


PP: You had an amazing turnaround this season. What do you credit that turnaround too?


JS: It's like I said in the previous question I never quit battling and I never gave in to the pressure that I felt I had. I also learned to use my pitches to help me, and not try to blow it by people because I found out you can't do that to everybody. My teammates gave me a lot of support and that helped out a lot. I received help from Jeff Wildfogel who is a Sports Psychologist at Stanford who had kept up with me from the beginning and the info he gave me helped me relax and let me know that I still had it I was just going through a funk.


PP: Describe your repertoire.


JS: I throw a heavy 4 seam fastball, a 2 seam sinker, slider, curve, and change. The more I work on my off speed pitches the better pitcher I will be. 


PP: Describe your overall approach and style.


JS: I am a power pitcher, I work heavily off of my fastball. I work off of the mound quick, I don't like to waste time by walking around and playing with the rosin bag I get on the rubber and throw. I believe sometimes when I work to quickly I get hurt because I don't think when everything is going smooth.


PP: In your ideal pitching performance, what would you have working that day. Describe your ideal feel for your pitches in your best pitching performance.


JS: I would still work off my fastball, but I would show my changeup and use my slider as my out pitch. I've had days where my slider is working and my curveball is not and vise versa. You know when you are warming up what pitches are working and which pitches are not working. When my slider is really working is when I have my best outings.


PP: What MLB pitcher did you idolize and why?


JS: Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. Nolan Ryan because I am from Texas and have been a Rangers fan since I knew what a baseball was so if I heard baseball it usually was started with Nolan Ryan. Roger Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers ever I mean he is 41-42 and is still one of the most dominating pitchers in the game today. I like him because he is a power pitcher not a power thrower there is a difference right now I am the latter. He knows how to pitch.


PP: Which one of your teammates in 2004 would you least like to pitch to?


JS: Melky Cabrera.


PP: What attribute as a pitcher do you think sets you apart?


JS: Tall with big frame.


PP:  You worked with Psychologist, Dr. Jeffrey Wildfogel and it seemed to help your game quite a bit. How do you think it helped you? Take us through the process and how it helped you improve.


JS: Well he sent me some game summaries from Texas and Staten Island where I did really well and I talked about how I needed to look at those games and any games that I had done well in and try to remember what I had done and how I had done it, he said to forget about the bad outings and remember the good ones. He also sent me some more encouraging things that really kept me focused, like I said I never gave up but I was down on myself and Dr. Wildfogel help really was a huge factor in the turnaround.


PP: What are your goals for the 2005 season?


JS: Do better than the 2004 season, no I am not going to live in the past, so I am going to work my tail off this off season I take everything in stride. It's baseball, we play a challenging mental sport.


PP: What is your attitude towards each batter that steps in the box against you?


JS: When that does happen I will approach them just like any other hitter because that is an out and every out is huge.


PP: What do you do to prepare for each one of your outings?


JS: Everybody says it so will I, RELAX and try and prepare my mind for the battle I am about to go through. I try and play the game out before the game starts. Always in a  positive way.


PP: If you had to make one improvement for next season, what would it be and how would you do it?


JS: Throw every off speed pitch for strikes when I need to.


PP: If you weren't playing ball, what would you be doing?


JS: I have 36-39 hours of school left, so I would definitely finish school before I could make any decisions on a career.


PP: Many pitchers take on a persona (ex. Eric Gagne, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera). Who's persona do you think is similar to yours?


JS: I would have to say Roger Clemens.             


PP: If you were going to ask one Yankee player for advice, who would you ask and what would you ask them?


JS: Mariano Rivera. I would ask him how he manages to come in day in and day out and be as dominant as he is for so long. Because I hate coming out of the bullpen because you have to be prepared every day to pitch and sometimes you don't get to pitch but every 6 to 10 days so I have a lot of respect for those guys especially the ones that get the job done.


PP: How would you pitch to Gary Sheffield?


JS: Very, very carefully.


PinstripesPlus.com would like to thank Josh Smith for his time and efforts in answering these questions.


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