HOUSTON - JULY 15: PItcher Jeff Karstens #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs back to the dugout after a turn at bat against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 15, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Here are some excerpts of the bloggers' interview with Jeff Karstens, who came off pretty much as you'd expect - he has a low-key, self-deprecating sense of humor, and he's unfailingly modest. He also showed up wearing this t-shirt.
-P- On his workout program this offseason:
"Two years ago was more rigorous than this past offseason. This offseason was more really to make sure my shoulder was in good shape, because last year I did kind of break down in August. I sat out all of September except the last series ... They had some questions about my durability. Would I be able to last a full season? Would I be able to throw 185 to 200 innings? [That's] something I wanted to show them I could do."
-P- Karstens was asked about the wide disparity between his splits with none on and with runners on base, and he actually acted pretty surprised, as if he had never thought about it.
"I'm really focusing, whether I'm out of the windup or out of the stretch, [on making] quality pitches. I think I'm gaining confidence in knowing my pitches, what pitch is going to get me a ground ball, what pitches I'm trying to jam the guy if there's a runner out there with one out, to get a popup in the infield. A lot of times maybe it doesn't happen, but I kind of learned myself a little bit over the past couple years. We've been able to take a gameplan into the game [and] maintain it ... I was actually watching MLB Network this offseason, [and] they were talking about the Pirates, and Al Leiter came up and talked about my ERA. He said, you know, 'For me, he's not making the big pitch when runners are in scoring position,' and that's something I really thought about this offseason."
-P- On the possibility that the Pirates could move to a six-man rotation later this year:
"That's the first I've heard of it, so I don't really know ... I don't think it'll hurt us, get some guys some extra rest ... I'm pretty close to last year's innings total, or at least somewhat close. J-Mac has already surpassed it. Will it benefit us? Probably. Will it hurt us? I don't know. It's just one of those things where if Clint and Neal feel like that's what they need to do to get us through the season and it's the best fit for the team, then we do it."
-P- On whether he reached a point this year where he realized he didn't have to worry about losing his rotation spot:
"There was a while there where I was like, 'They're gonna take me out of the rotation [with] all the home runs I've given up.' I never really worried about it ... The biggest game I had all season was the game in Chicago ... I gave up a couple home runs [ed. note - actually only one], I went five innings, and they pulled me, and I only had like 70 pitches. I think that kind of lit a fire under me ... I wanted to pitch longer than what I'd been pitching because I knew I was capable of doing it. It was just a matter of showing Clint, showing Ray, having them gain confidence in me."