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October 19, 2010

C.J. Wilson


Q. Could you talk about the challenge of facing the same team back-to-back starts? Or is it even a challenge?
C.J. WILSON: Yeah, I don't even know if you can say that it's back-to-back starts in the sense that that's not even as much of an issue as the fact that they have seen me a couple of times this year. This will be, I think, the fifth start I've had against them. But you know I started like five times against Anaheim, five times against Seattle. Something that I kind of looked through as the schedule goes on to see how long it takes certain teams to adjust to certain types of things. One of the things I watched with Cliff the other night, I mean, everybody knows what he's got. He's pretty much an open book in that sense. He didn't really fall into patterns of predictability, so that's something in my notes, something that I've taken a large amount of focus towards is being a little more mysterious out there when I'm throwing.

Q. When you had been a closer, Wash had seen you in destroy mode. In converting to a starter, how did you manage the emotional aspect and finding that even-keel every day?
C.J. WILSON: That's actually like pretty accurate. I read an article about Brian Wilson in USA Today or whatever about how when he goes out there, he's like trying to annihilate the opposition or whatever, I kind of laughed because I thought about it, that's sort of what you go through as a closer in a lot of ways. I don't know if rage is a good word, but there's a lot of fuel. You're really burning hot.
As a starter, it's really kind of more like a candle or like a log in the fire. You warm up and you just kind of stay warm the whole time.
So it's more channeling the big picture into small bursts, if the guy gets on base, you need to maybe elevate a ball or make a guy miss on a particular pitch. Then I think that's where it comes in.
But the reliever thing has helped me a lot because I think I'm able to work out of those jams more naturally because I've pitched more games. As a starter you only pitch 30 games a year. As a reliever, I was pitching in 40, 50, 70 games a year. The experience of having guys on base in those pressure situations in the 7th and 8th was more frequent with that.
I've completely revamped my training routine, my running is totally different, my training is totally different, because I think you have to train the way you play and in order to be specific, if you're out there doing huge, heavy reps all the time like a reliever, that does not necessarily help you have any endurance and endurance is really the hallmark as a starter.

Q. The adaptation of you and Bengie, the adjustment, him coming in the midseason, how much has he helped you since he's come here and has that increased since the post-season has begun because of his experience in the playoffs?
C.J. WILSON: The thing is with that is it's kind of funny, because Bengie has caught a lot of the guys that I look up to around the league, Halladay, Lincecum, Cliff of course now.
So I ask Bengie questions all the time. I'm always picking his brain for something. He's kind of like a coach on the team in that sense. His mind works similar to the way mine does in that he has files and files and files, this is what Halladay did, this is what he did on his bullpen days, this is how he uses his sinker. I'm able to use the success traits of the top-tier guys and measure them out and see what I can do to get better.
But I've thrown to, I think, five different catchers this year so it's been difficult in that sense to get on a routine because I throw so many different pitches, like sometime I'll shake and go through a couple signs to get to what I want. But the more you work with the same guy during a season or over the course of a couple of years, you're able to go faster through it.
When you have a guy like Mark Buehrle or A.J. Pierzynski or Pettitte and Posada, they just have this very fast chemistry that everything goes very smoothly and that's something that I hope to have some day.

Q. Even though it's your first year as a starter, there was a dramatic improvement in the second half, more strikeouts; why were you so much better in the second half, and even here in the post-season with two walks in each of the first two starts?
C.J. WILSON: For me, walks have just always been an issue with the fact that I have like a lot of movement on my fastball -- well, all of my pitches have a lot of movement on them, and mechanically, like getting more refined. When you have a lot of movement, the hard thing is to repeat it so it's the same every time. You know, because sometimes it will -- like I will throw a sinker and it will have a mind of its own and sometimes it will go more across and sometimes a little bit of both, you never know.
But sometimes it will kind of slide up there. And that's the thing that Cliff does so well is his mechanics repeat and repeat and repeat. That's really when you see the best starting pitchers, they have the same delivery every time, and that's mechanically, it's just the process of refinement. I was experimenting so much in the first half because I didn't really know what was going to make me effective. Some days I would go out there and my hand would come up, sometimes I would twist. I would see a guy on another team do something and I'm like maybe I'll give it a little of this or that or a little tap. I would always be tweaking or messing around.
I kind of got in a groove over the All-Star Break, mentally, I was thinking about stuff, I said, this is it, it's getting towards crunch time, I have to consolidate, and I did. My first bullpen I threw after the All-Star Break was the best bullpen I threw, and I kind of built on that and it was kind of a whole new season for me.

Q. Have you ever tried to talk to Feliz at all about being a closer and is there any advice you can impart about pitching in a situation like this in a sold-out stadium that's going to be very loud?
C.J. WILSON: Well, you know, the thing is about Nefi, he has what a lot of people wish they had, a hundred-mile-an-hour fastball, it's unapproachable, it's not like I taught him how to do that or anything. Last year I tried to he talk to him about the work ethic required to go every day, and that's the difference between having a good arm.
The thing that's impressed me most this year is that he had 40 saves. If yo u think about the amount of work you have to put in to get 40 saves, it's a lot different than maybe having 40 good innings or something like that. And he pitched in a lot of pressure situations all year long, whether it was in hostile territory like Boston or Anaheim or here or whatever. So he had pitched in a lot of those situations already. I think a lot of us, even though we have not been in the post-season, every game is its own new experience and we are looking at it like it's a regular game and we are trying not to make too much of it. Really there's so much made out of it because there's only four teams left playing, but Nefi has some tools and it's just going to be the refinement of his offspeed pitches.
The hardest thing is when you throw really hard, sometimes you'll throw a pitch and you're like, I don't know if I have it today and you'll look up and see it's only 95 as opposed to a 100 and I'm like, hey, in those days that you are only throwing 95, don't try to throw 100. Just throw 95 and put it on the corners, esquinas (corners).
That's really it, and he's able to do that and his delivery is so simple and he's able to repeat and throw strikes but if he puts 99 on the corners, I don't know how many guys will actually be able to hit it. That's all he really has to do is locate, that's it for him, location and stamina.

Q. You have witnessed the progression of the Rangers from a club that was promising to one that's achieving. Was there a sense this year that, yeah, now we can get there kind of thing?
C.J. WILSON: I think last year, we had a really good run through the first three quarters of the season, and the sort of inexperience that we have individually and as a team, kind of came out a little bit towards the end, where, you know, we had a good lead and the Angels just kind of flew past us at the end of the season.
It was more just because guys maybe got a little bit worn down, the younger guys like Elvis and stuff had never played that many games, so it was asking a lot of them to get better in that last month. To stay level would have been asking a lot but to get better was hard.
I think with that kind of sour taste in our mouths this off-season, everybody came into Spring Training pretty hungry. When everybody saw we got Vlad and Darren Oliver, those were big acquisitions in key positions and I think everybody at that point in the first day of Spring Training, were like, we are going to win the west.
You see guys like Cruz and Hamilton having just really stellar numbers and then you see Mike Young, obviously, like a metronome, he hits .300 and he gets about 200 hits every year. We are able to build around that consistency with these other pieces and when the young guys step up, it's just a huge difference, like I said, with Nefi or even with me being kind of a surprise for a lot of people this year to get 15 wins and to be a starter as opposed to a reliever is kind of an X-factor, but I felt like, if I did well, then we would go to the playoffs. That's just the way I think everybody approached their workouts and that's pretty much the way it's turned out.

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