Dec. 10, 2007
Following his first full season in the Major Leagues, Butler alum Pat Neshek takes some time out of his schedule to answer a few questions from his collegiate head coach Steve Farley.
Question 1: You pitched in 74 games this past season (70.1 innings), which was among the league leaders. Describe the wear and tear that a Major League relief pitcher experiences and what kind of weekly conditioning did you do to maintain your strength level?
Yeah, that was a lot of games pitched, and what a lot of people didn't see and wasn't recorded in the books was how many times I got up every night and never went in. It's a grind. After the first month you think you have control of everything, and then you stop to think and realize you still have five months to go. It's a very long season, and you really have to prepare your body during the season or else your arm is going to break down. In the big leagues you cannot really get away with not doing anything because it will catch up with you during one of those 162 games. The best thing I would recommend is doing the cord work (Jobes) everyday or every other day with the light dumbbell program. If nothing else, that should be enough to maintain a healthy arm. I would also recommend getting into the gym to maintain the strength you build up during the off-season. We also did sprints nearly everyday before games.
Question 2: Which ballparks do you enjoy pitching in the most? Also, which team has the craziest fans?
I'm a Midwest guy so I really enjoy playing in ballparks that I grew up near. Nothing is better to me than the Metrodome because that is where I watched all those games when I was growing up. I'm also a big fan of Kansas City and Milwaukee. I don't know what it is with KC, but it is very simple and has been around for a long time. Milwaukee is a great atmosphere and a pretty cool park. I really don't like playing at Yankee Stadium -- cool place, but I just don't pitch well there. Jacobs Field, Toronto (Rogers Centre) and Safeco Field have the toughest fans, but it's how the bullpen is designed. The fans get to look in and you feel like a caged animal. It's tough not to ignore the fans after they insult you for eight-straight innings. I wish they would put a cover over the bullpens, but that's what makes the fans come out.
Question 3: In just your first full season in the Big Leagues, how did it feel to be on the list of five finalists for the 2007 All-Star game?
Well, I thought it was pretty neat that Jim Leyland picked me as one of the last guys he thought should be an All Star. He has been around forever and, from what I hear, he is one of the best managers to play for, so knowing he selected me meant the world. I also was excited because you don't really hear of relief pitchers making the All Star team. It was a huge honor and I really liked my chances until Lew Ford came over to me in the clubhouse and said I had no shot because I was up against the Nation of Japan. He was right -- Okajima had a lot of internet fans in Japan!