Turn Back The Clock: Q&A with Sean Henn

Sean Henn once was the flame throwing lefty that was being touted as the next Yankee great. After injury troubles, Henn has fallen off that track. But, in 2005, he is looking to turn back the clock and regain that old form. We caught up with Sean to discuss this in a PinstripesPlus exclusive. (Free Preview!)

PinstripesPlus: Sean, you spent some time in big league spring training this year. What was that like for you?

Sean Henn: Oh, it was definitely a very good experience. Just being around those guys was just great and I enjoyed every minute of it. The main thing I tried to do was just stay within myself. I did get hit around a little bit but it is all part of the learning process. Now, I can take what a I learned there and bring it back to minor league camp with me. I am just happy I got a chance to play with them.

PP: As you mentioned, you did struggle in your time with the big club in spring training. Do you think it was a matter of you not executing or simply that the competition was far better than what you had previously faced?

Henn: Well, it is by far better completion than I had ever seen before, you know. All the hitters that I faced were tough outs because there is a reason that they're up there playing with big league teams. But, it is also a matter of execution as well. I didn't always go out there and get strike one and throw the pitches the way I would have liked to. But, sometimes at the lower levels, you can get away with not executing on every single pitch. But, when you get to this level, you need to hit spots and first pitch strikes become more and more important. So, I think it was a little bit of a combination of some lack of execution and that some more advanced hitters were jumping on my mistakes.

PP: You only recently went back to minor league camp. What does your daily routine there consist of?

Henn: Well, yeah, I haven't been here that long. It has only been a few days since I left the big camp, but things are basically the same. We do a lot of mound work and throwing some live batting practice to the hitters. I've also worked on getting in the right mindset for pitching and just working on a lot of mental stuff to prepare myself for the season.

PP: We spoke with some coaches in the Yankee organization and they mentioned a possible move for you to the bullpen. Has anyone approached you about such a change?

Henn: Yeah, they asked me about it when I arrived at spring training camp. They have approached me about it. They just asked me what I thought about it and if I would be up for it. To me, it doesn't really matter. If that is what happens, I am all for it. As long as I get to pitch, what role I am in doesn't bother me.

PP: Do you have any idea where you will be pitching in 2005 and out of what role?

Henn: I will probably be pitching with AAA Columbus. Right now, that seems pretty likely. As for my role, I don't really know right now. I know they might want be to pitch out of the bullpen and that is fine. If I start, I'll just get my innings and pitch as well as I can. If I had to lean towards one role though, I would say that I would be working out of the bullpen. Nothing is really certain right now, but if I had to lean in one direction, I'd say I'll be relieving for the Clippers.

PP: What are you looking to improve upon during your 2005 spring training?

Henn: Right now, I am working on trying sharpen up my slider. I want to make that pitch a little bit more of a weapon for me. It will just give me a little bit more to go to when I am trying to get someone out or strike someone out. Right now, the coaching staff is just trying to educate me on just how to throw the pitch better and how I should be throwing it in general. So, it is a lot of learning going on right now.

PP: If you do end up as a relief pitcher, you may face a lot of lefties out of the bullpen. Do you feel that you can be very tough on left handed hitters?

Henn: Well, I know one thing for sure; when I am facing lefties, I am more confident pitching to them. I have looked at statistics and stuff and I don't think that it shows me as being a lot tougher on lefties. In fact, it is very close I think. But, I know that when a lefty steps in, I am more comfortable facing him than a right handed hitter. I am hoping that if I can get a sharper slider, that will make me a lot more tough on lefty hitters.

PP: Do you feel that you have a lost any velocity since the first games you played as a Yankee?

Henn: Oh definitely. When I first played in this organization, I was hitting 97-98 MPH on the radar gun. Now, I am lucky if I hit 94 MPH. There is definitely a difference. Velocity is not everything but it definitely helped to have that little extra on the fastball to be able to put it by a batter when I needed to. I think it went down since I changed my arm angle. When I first signed, they were really trying to work on my breaking ball. I was pitching from a 3/4 arm angle, and they moved me to a high 3/4 or close to an over the top arm slot. They wanted to help me try and get on top of my curveball more. But, that is also probably a reason that I lost a lot of velocity.

PP: So, if you do end up in the bullpen, will you be trying to regain that old velocity?

Henn: Yes, I think we will probably try to bring my arm angle back down a little bit now that I am throwing a slider rather than a curveball. That is my more natural arm slot. I always thinks that if I had the velocity I had in 2002 to go along with what I know about pitching now, I would have been amazing. So, I am going to try and bring my knowledge and my old velocity together this season. Now, I know where I am going to put the ball so if I can bring that velocity back up, it should bring success along with it.

PP: So, what you are saying is that your velocity is very dependent on your arm angle?

Henn: Yeah, I mean, the original reason that my arm angle was changed was so I could get on top of my curveball. But, with my slider now, I'd like to drop the arm angle again and have that good velocity to go along with it.

PP: Are you satisfied with how you performed in Trenton in 2004?

Henn: Well, going into 2004, my main goal was to be able to go out there and make every start and not miss any time due to injuries. I wanted to be able to answer the bell every five days. And, I am just thankful I was able to do that. I started off the season really strong and struggled towards the end. So, I wouldn't say I was satisfied with my overall performance because I am never satisfied. But, I was just happy to be there for, I think it was 165 innings. Battling injuries before that, it was just great to be able to pitch an entire season like I did.

PP: Speaking in general terms, what are your goals for the 2005 season?

Henn: Well, no matter what role I might be pitching out of, bullpen or not, I have things I'd like to accomplish this year. Mainly, I want to command each and every pitch. If I can do that a little better, I'll be in good shape. But, at the same time, I don't want to be too fine. That is got me in trouble during the second half of the year in Trenton last season. And, like I mentioned earlier, I want to bring my velocity back up to where it used to be, combining it with the knowledge of pitching that I have gained over the past couple of seasons.

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

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