Chris Resop Talks Starting, Japan, And Contention

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Chris Resop #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the Opening Day game on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Here's the bloggers' interview with Chris Resop. I wouldn't normally have transcribed the whole thing, but I thought this one was good enough that it was worth it. Again, the lineup of writers was Kevin and Matt from Pirates Prospects (several of the questions in this interview came from Kevin), Tom from RumBunter, Brian from Raise The Jolly Roger, Jon from The "Mc" Effect, and Vlad and me.

Have there been any talks about you possibly starting?

Not that I've heard of, no. It's funny, because I've been asked about 35 times tonight, and I was like, "Where's this coming from?"

Yeah, we started all that (laughter).

Not that I've been told. I'm not opposed to doing anything.

You have a better arsenal than a typical reliever.

Yeah, I mean, I've started for two months my whole career. I've been a reliever in the minor leagues, and 2010 was the only year I've ever started, for two, two and a half months.

In fairness, it was a pretty good two and a half months.

Yeah, I threw the ball well. There's things I love about starting, there's things I love about relieving. Drafted as a position player, coming up as an outfielder my whole career, high school ball and everything, I like playing every day. I hate sitting around, that was one thing I didn't like about starting, knowing there was no chance I was getting in that game for four straight days, possibly five if there was a day off or something like that. So that part wasn't fun about it, but I also loved the fact that I could set a routine. I knew today that if I wasn't throwing today I could lift as hard as I wanted to, and I'm okay tomorrow because I can be sore and recover tomorrow. I knew how to prepare myself on a day to start - I went to sleep at a certain hour the night before. I wouldn't say I'm superstitious, but I have a certain routine I'd stick to. I always tried to eat a big pasta meal the night before I started, for energy.

That part I enjoyed, but the bullpen I know I can pitch every single day, and usually you're coming in in a lot higher-pressure situations than you are starting, and that I like - I like pressure, I like to feed off that stuff. I don't know if I focus more. I don't know what it is. But the other thing about starting too is the fact that if you have a good inning, first two innings, you set the presence for a game. If the starter goes out there and he's on his game the first five to seven hitters, it sets a tone, and those guys are gonna go right to their heels and start taking defensive swings, and that makes a difference.

There were some rumors that you were a potential non-tender candidate. What was your mindset - do you follow the media at all?

I mean, no offense, I try not to follow it, just because there's so many things that get said, and some things get misinterpreted, and rumors start ... I know some people may not like me, but you're always going to have those people, and I know what I have and I know what I'm capable of. And I felt, going into this tender date, that I'd put myself in a good situation with the year I had that, whether I was tendered or non-tendered, I thought I was gonna be okay.

Yeah, you weren't going to be pitching in Japan next season.

No, I wasn't! Regardless, I was not going to, trust me.

Chris Resop doesn't like sushi.

No, Chris Resop likes sushi. Chris Resop has had a goal since I was a little kid, and that was to play Major League Baseball. It wasn't to play in the NPB. I did that, and it was a situation where I had to go. I was in a situation where I was with Atlanta, and I had been designated, and I was sent to AAA, because I had to accept my first assignment, and I'd been down there for about three weeks, and had been out of the bullpen, threw the ball real well, and I was in a hard place, because they had two more years of minor-league rights for me. So if I'd stayed with Atlanta, I would have been just another AA/AAA guy for two more years and there's nothing I could do about it. The day I got to AAA, my agent called, and he said a couple teams were interested from Japan, and I was like, "Japan - huh?" I never thought about it, and for about three weeks, they were there every day, scouting. It came down to it where Atlanta called me and said, "We're gonna call you back up tomorrow, what are you going to do about this Japan thing?"

Did you rent the Tom Selleck Mr. Baseball movie, to catch yourself up on ...

(Resop proceeds to tell hilarious story that he wouldn't let us share here)

They have a different style of baseball, one I wasn't used to, and one I would say I didn't adjust to real well.

What was difficult about it?

I'm a power guy, I'm an aggressive pitcher. I set up hitters certain ways and things, but I'm gonna come right at you with my best stuff. Over there, these guys, I can't tell you how many times I saw the first three pitches of a game be offspeed pitches. There were times when I saw a guy throw nine pitches without throwing a fastball to start a game. Are you kidding me? First pitch curveball, ball, second pitch curveball, it's like, "What are you doing?" And then the first guy of the game gets on base, the next guy's bunting! Here it comes! I mean, it's just like, it's small, small baseball. They will beat you to death with singles all day long.

We had a leadoff hitter on our team who - this is crazy, but he literally practiced fouling the ball off. He'd sit at the plate and he'd choke up, and he'd put a net as if it was gonna hit the third-base dugout, and he'd take balls, and he'd go like this, swing real late and foul it off straight that way. And that's all he'd do, because they can't catch up to, you know, 94-95. They don't have the strength or they just don't have the bat speed. So they just sit there and foul it off, and they know that. So they'd just sit and wait for you to throw the changeup or throw the breaking ball, and then they'd hit it, because they can keep their hands back but they can't catch up to anything hard. And they will beat you to death. And you throw 12-pitch at-bats, and you're like, "I gotta throw something else now," you know? I didn't like it.

With the little parks over there, did you have to worry at all as a power guy about any fly ball just going over the wall?

I didn't think about that so much. One of the hardest things is there - there's a couple things that are real different - over here we have a major league baseball. It's a uniform baseball, every team uses it, there's no changes to it. Over there, I want to say there's five or six different baseballs. And they're all different. Some have big seams, some have none, some are soft, some are hard. It was different.

And there's no mound regulations. We played on an all-dirt infield, and when I say dirt, I mean like beach-sand dirt. It's not clay, it's like a dark-chocolate-brown dirt. So in the fifth inning of every game there, there's a 30-minute break because they have to redress the field every time, because there's holes in the field.

So for us, for example, we didn't have a mound. It was a circle, and it was flat. So good luck getting anything behind the ball. It's hard. You'd play eight games at home [and] you'd go on the road, and the first place you go, you go to a dome with a 12-inch clay mound. Well, you haven't thrown off a mound in 10 days, and now of a sudden you're getting ready to warm up in the bullpen, and you're like, "This is a joke." You don't know where the ball's going. You're trying to make adjustments in the game, and you're like, "This is crazy." And I had a tough time with that. I played with [Ryan] Vogelsong, who had a great year this year with the [San Francisco] Giants, and he had a tough time over there. You get to the fourth inning, and you feel like you got ran over by a Mack truck, because you're using so much energy, because you have nothing behind you to carry down that mound. You're not throwing a ball down a slope. It's all you've got in your body to get that ball going.

Do you think that's why they focus on offspeed a lot?

I don't know. Those guys over there, they literally throw eight, 10 pitches, starters do. They throw everything. And they make stuff up, and they all have an arsenal of eight or 10 pitches. It's unbelievable.

You didn't pick up a gyroball in your time there?

No, they kept trying to get me to throw a split, and I was like, "I'm not doing that." I had success with what I had, and I just felt like, I'm not trying to go to Japan and hurt myself. Not saying that I would, but ... no.

If you hurt yourself, you'd pick up the forkball.

Yeah, I just didn't want to do that. That wasn't my thing. I was like, "I'll stick with my guns."

What was it like in the clubhouse this past July when you guys were on fire?

One word to describe it? Awesome. Exciting. It was as if we were trying to beat each other to the park that day. Who could get here first ... Everybody's laughing and joking, and you weren't thinking. It was just, we're here to play, we're gonna do our job today, let's go. Let's go get 'em tonight. Winning is contagious, and losing is contagious, as we've all seen. We hit some roadbumps. We hit a tough stretch, and unfortunately, the time we hit a tough stretch, the rest of our division went hot. Milwaukee won how many in a row? It was like they couldn't lose. When that type of situation happens, it's nearly impossible to make up that deficit.

It was a great time. And it's something that I'm happy we were able to experience, and everybody got a taste of it. We didn't get a meal, we got a taste, but it makes you that much more hungry to get to that point again. We're not even talking about playoff baseball, we're talking about leading the division and winning, or being at the top of your division. Because we've got a tough division, and I'm glad to see the two teams that finished the N.L. Championship this year be two teams from our division, because I think a lot of times people look at that N.L. West, the Giants last year or two years ago, and they always look at Atlanta and Philly as these big [powerhouse] teams, and it's like everybody overlooks the N.L. Central. A lot of teams overlook the A.L. Central. They look at Texas and Anaheim, they look at the Yankees and Boston, and it goes to show you that the Central divisions aren't anything to just pass up. We had a tough division last year, which goes to show you that we can compete. We did it for four months, and we were, at one point, the best at it over the course of four months.

So going into this next year, we're hungry, we want to get that taste back in our mouths and keep it for awhile. We don't want to just snack on it, I guess.

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