More on the young pitchers meeting

I wrote a story this evening on the Orioles’ young pitchers and their meeting last week with pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Rick Adair. You can read all the details about it with the full story here.

As always, there’s some parts of the interviews that didn’t make it in the Orioles.com piece, so here’s some leftover reactions from the guys about the meeting. The best stuff is obviously up in the final story, but there was enough interesting quotes omitted that I thought I’d share. Enjoy.

BRIAN MATUSZ
[ever done anything like that before?]
“No. it was a great meeting. [Connor] pulled us in there, all the young guys. He just talked about the opportunity we have in front of us, being able to work with each other.”

[on his reaction the meeting]
“It gave you a good feeling of family and teammates and kind of how we click together. We are all friends. We are all teammates, but we are friends too. We got something special going and I think it was just a good time to sit down and talk about that and open it up a little if we have something to say. It was good.

We know that’s it’s time to get it going and get on track. The season’s only a couple weeks away, we are all well aware of that. We are all working away and grinding. It’s just nice to hear it over and over again, it’s nice to sit down and be able to talk as a group. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to do that multiple times during the season because it was good. A good thing for us.”

[on having Adair/Connor around]
“Working with those guys has been tremendous. So far, the pieces are fitting together. Just little pieces here and there they are throwing at [us], they are starting to come together. It just took sometime this spring for things to kind of fall together. It is for me, you can see that it is for other guys as well. And the result will follow.

We talked [in the meeting] about it’s a process and we are all trying to get ready because we know we are in it for something special. It’s an ongoing thing. It’s not a ‘Let’s talk about it today and then three weeks from now’. It’s a day-to-day to keep everyone on track and keep pushing each other and knowing that we don’t know it all. We pick up things here and there. I’ve learned so much since last week.”

CHRIS TILLMAN
[on the importance of being a unit]
“I think it’s huge. I think it all showed at the end of last year, we all started pitching well we all started feeding off each other, trying to do better than the next guy.”

[on the meeting being motivational]
“Absolutely. I told them I wanted to go throw a bullpen right after that, you know? I just had this burst. After those kind of talks I start shaking around you can’t even sit still.”

ZACH BRITTON
[on the meeting's message]
“We talked about baseball a lot but it was more of just us. Like, ‘What do you think? How do you go about your business?’ [Connor] asked us questions, and we were all silent.  We didn’t know if we wanted us to answer, but he wanted dialogue between us and Rick Adair and [Connor]. It was more about them really getting to know what they thought.

Connor wanted to know how we felt, what we thought. He praised everybody a lot. Which is always nice to hear, from the pitching coach. But it wasn’t all compliments, it was areas he felt we needed to improve as a group. It wasn’t singling out, it was what we need to do to get better as a group. He mentioned the Braves [rotation], how those guys set an example for the whole organization, from A-ball all the way to Triple-A and the big leagues. It was like, ‘We are about winning’.

He felt like the guys we have here that’s as good as we can be. We were all like, ‘Really?’ Because he’s dealt with [Curt] Schilling, [Randy] Johnson, some great players. And he felt like all of us have that ability which is pretty nice, pretty flattering.”

[on the meeting being motivational]
“Anytime you get that kind of feedback it makes you anxious to get out there and kind of do what they want you to do. And show everyone in the organization that you are out there to win.

It’s not just about being .500 this year. It’s about going to the playoffs and winning. It’s not about, ‘Oh let’s see if we can get to .500.’ You shouldn’t even be thinking about being average or just mediocre. It’s about taking it to the next level.  Be the best. Why can’t we be the best?”

[the importance of being one unit]
“Getting us all together I think was a good starting point of, ‘Hey it’s not about let me outdo this guy and outdo that guy.’ Because we all bring something different to the rotation. It’s about being there for each other and picking each other’s brains. When a guy does well, do better.

It’s not about you, it’s about the organization. They stressed that. It’s not about the big league team it’s about the organization. When the big league team does well, everyone does well. That’s the way it works.”

JAKE ARRIETA
[on the meeting]
“[Connor] kind of talked about guys he had in the past, what they had to do to get over that hump to be great pitchers. Each one of us has something like that that we have to overcome in order to take the next step in your progression as a big league pitcher.

I really enjoyed it. He told a few good stories, which I think we will all remember for a long time. He told a story about when Connor had [Roy] Halladay in Toronto, kind of the progression at the early stages of his career and how he was really able to turn things around. So, it kind of opened our eyes to the possibilities of what we can eventually accomplish in this game. It was a good meeting and I’m glad he had that for us.”

[on the benefits of doing it as a group]
“We each kind of went around and said a few things. He asked a few questions that were kind of difficult to answer, [he] kind of wanted to see what we thought about certain things, what it takes to be great, certain things like that.
 
I assume we will continue to do things like that just to reiterate certain things. But it’s great to have Connor and Adair here, I think they are going to be very beneficial to the growth and development of the young guys.”

[on the meeting being motivational]
“It made you want to get out there and get to work right after that meeting. I know there’s a few things that I got to continue to do to get better.”

BRAD BERGESEN
[on the meeting]
“[Connor] and Rick, they’ve been around for so long, they’ve seen every type of  pitcher, they’ve seen what it takes. They’ve seen guys that have all the ability in the world that don’t do anything with it.

Really what it amounted to was really kind of motivational for me. We talked about it being a process, how we have to get behind one another to be successful and we have to really encourage each other to go along and do what we want to do.

The thing that I really liked the most was we talked about the mental side of it, using certain words like I can’t. I can’t do this. Little things like that. Just trying to start training the mind how to work in a certain way. For me that was the biggest thing that I took away from it.”

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