Today marks the Opening Day of the 2012 Arizona Fall League. As you know, the Twins sent seven players to play for the Peoria Javelinas. The hitters are catcher Chris Herrmann and outfielders Evan Bigley and Nate Roberts. The pitchers are lefties Logan Darnell and Caleb Thielbar and right-handers Michael Tonkin and Kyle Gibson. Be sure to keep up with the Twins in the AFL right here at Twins Daily.
Today also marks the beginning of a series at Twins Daily that we’ll be calling Ten Questions With… It’s pretty self-explanatory. I’ll ask ten questions to someone related to the Minnesota Twins. Our first guest to answer ten questions is Kyle Gibson.
We appreciate his willingness to take some time to answer questions as he’s been very busy since the regular season ended. However, he was gracious enough to do a terrific job responding on a variety of questions. So here we go… here are…
TEN QUESTIONS WITH… Kyle Gibson
1.) Just over one year ago, you had successful Tommy John surgery. What was the most difficult part of those first few months of rehab?
Kyle Gibson (KG): Most difficult part of the first few months was probably being careful that I not use my arm too much. I am such an active person/busy person physically, that I had to be careful that I didn't try and lift too much, or move it past the range of motion allowed. Once I was able to use my arm fully, life was much easier!!! haha
2.) How difficult was it to stay patient with the rehab once you were able to pick up a baseball? Were you tempted to make more throws or throw from a longer distance?
KG: It was hard to stay patient with rehab mainly because I felt very good for almost all of the throwing process. I think had I felt more soreness, then I would have been easily patient with the process, but I guess it is a blessing that I felt so good! I wasn't really tempted too much to make more throws or at longer distances because I knew it was important to make sure I follow the protocol, and since I was in Ft Myers working directly with Lanning Tucker, the rehab coordinator, I didn't have much of a choice when it came to throwing extra!!!
3.) I know you are a person of strong faith, family and values. How did those things help you through the rough days?
KG: All three of those things helped through each and every day, no doubt. When it comes to my faith, it helped me have confidence that God put me in that position for a reason and the adversity that I was facing is going to make me a stronger person down the road. I just had to fully trust that His plan is the best plan for me, and when I do that, it’s easy for me to accept what is happening, good or bad, in my life. My family was a big help, especially my wife because she was there every day in Ft Myers. It was a big help to be able to come home and do other things other than think about baseball. I love baseball, no doubt, but if I only had baseball to think about then I would have drove myself crazy thinking about how I could rehab better/more.
4.) You set a timeline, and you were able to stay on it. The first bullpen session was in early June, and you were pitching for the GCL Twins in rehab games in July. What was it like to get back on the mound in a game again?
KG: Getting back on the mound was an unbelievable feeling. I cannot even express the feeling in words because it was a culmination of hard work that had been 10 months in the making! I am just happy and blessed to have had no setbacks to this point.
5.) Was it important for you to get back up to AAA Rochester in 2012? How did you feel about your performance there, and in general, how was your arm feeling at that point?
KG: I think getting back to Rochester, in the grand scheme of things, really wasn’t as important as I was making it to myself. I wanted to get back there, prove I was healthy, and have success against good competition, to at least prove to myself that I was ready for it. I felt good about how I did there. I did give up runs each time out, but I feel that I have fixed a few things since then. I really had a problem out of the stretch position, and as a result I was leaving the ball up and not making quality pitches. Since then I feel like I have watched enough video to work out those problems, and I am looking forward to getting to test them here in the fall league. My arm has felt great through the whole process. Even then, I had some minor soreness here and there, but all normal for my situation.
6.) What have you been up to since the end of the season and specifically leading up to the Arizona Fall League?
KG: After the season I went down to Ft. Myers to keep my arm in shape and get ready for the fall league. I spent a few weeks in instructional league pitching some innings and working on a few things.
7.) What are you looking forward to in the Arizona Fall League? Is it more about getting innings and gaining arm strength, or is it working on pitches, control and confidence?
KG: What I am most looking forward to is getting more comfortable on the mound and making quality pitches against quality hitters. It is about gaining arm strength, more innings, working on pitches, and control as well, without a doubt.
8.) Have you allowed yourself to start thinking about being added to the 40 man roster, going to spring training and, after all you've been through and all the hard work, what it will mean to get that call, to the big leagues?
KG: I have tried to think mostly about the present work I am doing. It is always hard not to think about what it will be like to be called up to the big leagues, if I get that chance, but the most I think about that, the less I am focused on staying healthy and getting better so that if I do get that chance, I am ready! I am very much looking forward to spring training, without a doubt. I want to go into it and show that I am healthy and ready to pitch wherever the Twins want to send me.
9.) Tell us a little about Mission of Mercy, a mission project in the Dominican Republic that you and your wife are very active with.
KG: Mission of Mercy is an organization that is involved in many different countries around the world with the Dominican Republic being one of those. My agent was working with a player at the time who was looking to get involved with M of M, and in doing so, they donated a good sum of money to start another project in the D.R. My agent invited me to go for the ribbon cutting ceremony in 2009, and I have been hooked ever since!
It’s a project with a school on site, as well as a baseball field, a basketball court with a volleyball net as well, and an outdoor pavilion for meeting purposes. There are about 200 kids that attend school at the project, and this last year, my wife and I decided to sponsor a little girl, and it was an amazing moment for us to meet her and her family last trip down there. If your readers want to make a contribution to the project or sponsor a child, they can find more information about what we are doing down there at https://www.missionofmercy.org/BaseballProject.
10.) Finally, you're putting together a charity auction of some of your game-used items on ebay. What are you selling and where can our readers find more information? How can TwinsDaily.com readers and fans contribute?
KG: I have decided to sell some game used items on EBay to raise some funds for this project in the D.R., and it has been a lot of fun. They will be going on for the next couple weeks, and left to be sold are a few more pairs of cleats, a glove, and maybe another hat or two. I am also going to be selling some pictures of me at the Futures Game that were taken by my dad, and maybe some autographed baseballs. All the gear will be signed and will have a Bible verse on it that has not been put on any other item I have ever signed. I want each of these items to be special and one of a kind.
Anyone can bid on the items on eBay and my seller ID is Kgibby44. I will be keeping everyone updated through twitter and facebook as to what items are being auctioned off. Your readers can follow me on twitter if they like at @Kgib44 if they like! Thanks Seth!
Thank you Kyle!!
Reports indicate that to this point Gibson is throwing harder than he threw before his Tommy John surgery. That is certainly encouraging but we all have to remind ourselves that this is a process. The process is taking him to the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League where he can hopefully throw another 25-30 innings in preparation for spring training next season. As good of a pitcher as Gibson has the potential to be, he is an even better person with a strong faith and family and proper perspective. We certainly wish him the best!