Q&A with Logan Darnell
Chris Fee: You picked up your first win of the year on Sunday, how would you rate your overall performance this season?
Logan Darnell: So far I'd say it's been a good year. Three or four starts in, going up and then coming back down, kind of threw my rhythm off starting but it's been good. I'm still trying to get to that point when I can get past the sixth and into the seventh and eighth inning. If I had to give it a grade? I'd probably give it a B+/A so far, but I'd really like to get into the eighth and ninth and throw a complete game to really be where I want to be.
[FONT=Tahoma]Photo Courtesy of Joe Territo - RedWingsBaseball.com[/FONT]
CF: Are you completely stretched out pitch-wise? Or are you still stretching out?
LD: I think I'm completely stretched out. The last game I threw 95 pitches. I mean, 100 is probably tops. It's just a matter of getting through the sixth and seventh innings and getting through the lineup three times, throwing less pitches to each batter and quicker innings.
CF: Can you talk about your experience getting called up to the Twins, and how nervous were you when you were called into pitch?
LD: You know it was an awesome experience to get called up for the first time, but I was a little nervous for the first outing. Once I got out there and I realized that it was just a game and I've done this plenty of times before I just settled in and threw well. It was good to get up there and get the experience there.
CF: What was your reaction when yougot the message that you were being called up, and how did you findout?
LD: It was 12:30 at night and I was in bed, and I was kind of shocked when I got the call. It was exciting at the same time, whenever someone gets their first call it's a cool deal. It was a great experience.
CF: In your outing on Sunday you struck out a season-high eight batters and you're on pace for a career high in strikeouts. What's different about this year in comparison to years past in regards to strikeouts?
LD: I don't know if there is too much different. I will say that I've mixed in a changeup and a curveball more often than I did last year. Whether that's the reason that I'm striking them out? I don't know, but I know that I'm getting into deeper counts with guys and getting to two strike counts more which is affecting me with pitch count like I said earlier. Just getting to two strikes and getting them out as opposed to getting them to hit it earlier in the count which is probably what I used to do, throw it over early so they could hit it on the ground, to get through the game faster.
CF: You talked about adding a changeup. What is the pitch you go to when you're in a jam or need to get a guy out or to get a strike call?
LD: Changeup for sure, not that it's any better than any of the other pitches. It's just that I have confidence in it and it's a good mix from my fastball. I have confidence that I can throw it for a strike, and once you have the confidence that you can throw the ball at any time for a strike, it really helps. Whether it's my “out pitch” - I'm not sure I'd give it that name. If there's any point in the game I want to get off my fastball the change will be there.
CF: Take me back to draft day for a minute. Where were you when you were selected? Did you have a feeling the Twins were going to take you? Were there other teams you thought were going to take you as well?
LD: I was at my house in Nashville, Tennessee and had a couple of buddies over fishing and hanging out at the farm I lived on. I wasn't hanging out by the phone or looking at the computer. My agent said I would go anywhere from round four to ten, and didn't know where or who. I had talked to a lot of the teams my junior year at Kentucky, a lot of the scouts, and there were five or six of the ones that I liked the most that gave me a good idea that they would. Earl Wynn, my scout, was a really good dude and was probably my favorite scout that I talked to and ended up getting drafted by that team in the sixth round. It's funny how that worked out. I was just at the house not trying to think about it and what happened was going to happen. It was out of my control. If it wasn't in the top ten I was probably going back to Kentucky, it all worked out in the end.
CF: Can you talk about your time at Kentucky, and how that prepared you versus coming out and getting drafted out of high school?
LD: I think that going to college at Kentucky for me it really did help me out because I had to grow up. I had to learn failure and what it was about struggling and failure. When you come out of high school you haven't really faced much failure. Going through the SEC was tough with those bats and the big, heavy home run hitters. You had to get used to that. Growing up and being a freshman, sophomore and a starter and a reliever, and the tough league and the weekend. I gained forty pounds in college and got bigger and stronger and learned a lot from our pitching coach there and now the head coach. There were a lot of good things that came from it and I don't know if I would be here if I didn't go there, that's for sure. I wouldn't have gotten failure and gotten out of trouble when pitching, because in pro ball it's just a thing where you figure it out yourself versus in college you have a guy that can help you out more than they would have in pro ball.
CF: I talked to Antoan Richardson last year and he said that the SEC is the toughest conference to play in. I'd guess that you would agree with him?
LD: Yeah, for sure. We argue about it all the time in the clubhouse. SEC, Big 12, Big 10, ACC - there are good teams in every conference. But from top to bottom in the SEC, it's tough. The power arms that the SEC puts out there - we have (Alex) Meyer on the team and you've seen him pitch. It's impressive. The lineups are tougher. The fans on the road - there are 10,000 fans there every Friday night. It's just a tough atmosphere, but it gets you ready. I wouldn't say it was the only thing, but when you get into pro ball, it definitely helps you be prepared for it. I'm not saying that the ACC doesn't do that as well, you do in the Big 12 as well, but every weekend you need to be ready. But that's not necessarily the case in other leagues.
CF: How disappointed were you in the loss to UConn in the National Championship game?
LD: They made it to the championship game. I don't think I saw that coming. It was kind of tough because Pat Dean, who plays for New Britain, is a big time Connecticut fan and was trash talking the whole way there. Shabazz got us at the end of it I guess, it was a good run for them. They didn't play that well the entire season but made a run in the tournament. It was a good run. Me and Meyer were watching it at Buffalo Wild Wings and we were like “This isn't going good for us, lets get out of here.” They have a lot of guys returning next year so we'll see what happens.
CF: Do you have a routine before your starts versus preparing every other day that you're not starting?
LD: There's definitely a routine involved and sometimes the routine gets messed up with rain outs or guys getting send up or down, injuries or what not. Day after a start, upper body work out and a longer run, second day is lower body, third day bullpen, fourth day rest and fifth day you start.
On the days I start, I do whatever I'd normally do until an hour or so before the game starts, then I put my iPod in and listen to music, stretch, take a start, talk to (Eric) Fryer or (Dan) Rohlfing about the lineup and who's hitting for them. I try not to get ready the whole day because you don't want to think about it too much. It's still a simple game, but there's still that 30-40 minutes before the game where you need to get focused on what you need to do.
CF: You a superstitious guy? Do you have a lucky pair of socks or anything that you wear?
LD: I did have some lucky socks. They had Yoda on them. They were Yoda Star Wars socks, but they got really holey and I lost one of them along the way in the off-season. I'm not really superstitious about anything else but those Yoda socks I had for two years, but since I lost them I'm not really superstitious about anything else. I do have a playlist that I listen to but I don't really think that counts.
CF: I'd say you have pitched pretty well without the socks though.
LD: The socks were sweet though. *laughs *
CF: What are your goals for the rest of the season? What are you trying to work on the mound? Obviously the goal is to get back to the Twins but while you're in Rochester what are you trying to do here?
LD: I think for sure what I'm trying to work on is to be consistent. You never have pitching figured out and when you think you do it'll humble you. For me it's going inside, fastball inside, to control that more. Once I figure that out that'll help my sinker and change up away as well. That's right now what I've been trying to work on in the pen and keeping the curveball where it is. It has gotten better than it has in years past, but for myself it's being consistent and giving us a chance to win every time that I pitch.
I try not to think about going back to Minnesota, I don't think about what they're thinking about or what I'm trying to do to impress them. I just want to give this team the chance to win and to get this team a Governor's cup title because that's all of our goals to win. As far as my goals they are the same as the team goals and that's to win and get to the playoffs and once we get there anything can happen.
CF: Talking about the team success, how much was the momentum from last season carrying over into this season?
LD: For sure, it's a good carryover. A lot of the core guys are still here and to have the same team back this year, it's the same feel in the clubhouse, the coaches are all the same and like I said we have a lot of the same guys on the team and they are all close knit. We know we can do it. We made a great run. Last year no one thought we can do it. We just made a run at the end and kind of kept the same feel as we did the end of last year that got us into the playoffs. We got there, we lost to Pawtucket but we know we can do better than that. Not trying to downplay last year but we know we can do better this year. The confidence that we had last year and knowing we can do it again, it just makes it easier.