Matusz on last season and moving forward (updated)

Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz held court for quite a while this morning and I’ll have a full story up on Matusz later this afternoon on Orioles.com. Here are a few quotes from Matusz, along with special assistant Brady Anderson, who worked with him this offseason.

BRIAN MATUSZ

[on 2011] “Last year was tough. It was a really tough year. There was that feeling that I didn’t want to feel again. It was motivation to get out there this offseason and work hard and really get after it. I feel like I definitely put in the time this offseason, so I’m excited to see the hard work pay off.”

“Last year was a lot of negatives. Nobody wants to experience struggles, but after going through them, I was able to learn a lot from them. Never get complacent with anything. Just being able to battle and grind through the entire season and never give in.”

[on who helped him this offseason] “Working with Brady was obviously important on the strength and conditioning side. Even working with Rick Adair on some mechanical problems that went wrong. And I spent a lot of time talking to my Dad, getting back to where I was as a younger kid and getting back to the things that worked well for me. Having those guys around has been really helpful.”

[on his mechanics looking better than last year] “I’ve never been into looking at video, watching too much film. I like to judge a lot of my outings just off of feel. I feel like it’s hard to remember what that old form felt like, especially after all the struggles of last year and really being out of my element. I’m starting to really, I feel like that old form is coming back. Being able to have confidence on the mound and just being athletic and letting the ball just come out with a lot of conviction behind the ball.

[on the rotation competition] “There’s a lot of competition this spring. There’s a lot of young talented arms and with the addition of Chen and Wada coming in, two left-handed arm. It’s going to create a lot of competition, it’s going to be fun this spring.”

[on if he has the mindset if he pitches like the old Matusz he can make the team] “Absolutely my mindset. Just compete and be myself, mainly. Just go out and focus on the things I do well and to be able to compete and have fun with it at the same time.”

[on if last year became a mental issue with him] “It’s one of those things where if things aren’t going your way it’s tough to dig yourself out of a hole. Physically I felt strong last year, it’s just the results weren’t there. but that’s over and done with, I’m ready to move forward this season and just be able to go out, have fun and compete and play the game that I loved playing as a kid.”

BRADY ANDERSON

[on working with Matusz] “He came to me toward the end of last season, so it began as far as building his strength back up. It was before he went down on a few of his triple-a starts. We just started with the basics, getting his strength numbers up. And we did.  As hard as we trained athletes need to understand that training never ends. It’s a continuous climb upwards in terms of strength and power.

That’s one thing Brian never had a problem with: he knew how to pitch by the time he came into the league. Maybe that was a little bit of a –I wouldn’t say curse—but he just never experienced failure. And that’s hard. The first time it’s a little bit of a shock.”

[on sensing a determination to put last year behind him] “Until you really rid yourself of that it’s hard. lt’s just one of those things that any athlete who cares about his performance will always go through. Coming back from a poor performance, until you’ve rectified it with a solid performance it’s probably all in the back of your mind whether you say it or not. It’s a fact of life in any sport.”

[so he dwells on 2011?] “I would imagine it’s almost impossible not to. Especially when you think about what his life is like. He’s in spring training now, hasn’t pitching yet. Every question [the media] is asking is probably about last year. So even if he wanted to forget about last year, I’m sure you guys would make it impossible to do so.”

[on if this could this be something that makes him stronger in the long run] “His work ethic will never be anything but excellent again. It just won’t be. The standards have been set, there’s performances that he knows he’s met already he’s going to have to maintain those and improve on those off the field. And he’s going to take care of his business on the field with the pitching coaches and matt wieters and learn how to pitch better even when he doesn’t have his greatest stuff. But as far as ever slipping back into not being the most powerful athlete you can be. That wont happen anymore.”

[what makes you say that?] “I wont let it happen for one. We’re friends now and he understands the importance of it. Whatever he does on the field, it wont be based on his power capacity. And that gives and athlete a tremendous peace of mind too. It’s bad enough getting hammered on the field. It’s especially bad when you maybe think you weren’t as prepared as you think you should have been. There’s nothing worse for an athlete, or anybody, as having that chronic remorse of ‘Wow, I wish I would have done this a little bit better.’ In that way he’s not different than the rest of us.

4 Comments

Brittany,

Great blog. I read it everyday and it really gives an inside look at Oriole’s baseball. One question I have a hard time finding an answer to is whether Matusz’ struggles last year were due poor conditioning/poor preparation, complacency, or were they psychological. What do you think?

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My take is he was trying to make “perfect pitches”, and getting too much of the plate, instead of mixing pitches, changing speeds, & locations!

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