If you’re a regular reader of RumBunter, you know of our deep admiration for Kyle McPherson, he of the 60 K’s and only 6 BB in 71.2 innings so far this season. The young man who took a no-hitter into the 9th inning on May 31 and ended up with a one-hit complete game for Bradenton. Named to the FSL All-Star team. The 6’4″ right-hander who has recently been promoted to Altoona (where he’ll make his AA debut tonight).
The day before he twirled that one-hit beauty, I spoke to Kyle for a bit, and picked his brain about his control, his hometown, his (now former) Bradenton teammates, and his ranking as a double black belt.
In conversation, he is very thoughtful, extremely polite, very focused, but very easy to laugh. I’m not sure he was quite ready for the line of questioning that is my usual style…
Cocktailsfor2: All righty, sir – how was your weekend? I didn’t see the results.
Kyle McPherson: Well, we just got back from a four-game road trip against Daytona, and we dropped all four games to them, so… we’ve been struggling as a team- I mean, we’ve only scraped together one win in the last coupla weeks, so…[chuckling] definitely a rough road so far…
Cfor2: Well, team wins are a good thing, but of course a player’s development is the key, is what’s important. Don’t get me wrong, the wins are nice…
KMcP: Oh, yes, sir…[laughs]
Cfor2: So, let’s get down to it: One of the things that I know you focus on is command and control, and you’ve actually got more HBP than BB this year. What’s the psychology – the decision process -in backing a guy down, or working the inside portion of the plate, and not worrying about it?
KMcP: I attribute both of those [command and control] to pitching inside - I’ve definitely felt that’s one of my strongholds as a pitcher is… in the past, I really didn’t pitch “in” that much, and I felt that coming into this season I needed to establish that, and establish that persona for myself – that I’m not gonna back down, that I’m gonna go right at a guy, whether that’s attacking him in hard, just to get him off the plate or if it’s to go in there for effect, to actually get a result. So, all that being said, you know, a couple of “errant throws” that might slide in there and nick ‘em, or actually square ‘em up, [laughs] and that’s where that comes from. And that’s an ability that you really have to work on to hone, a skill to hone, and so that’s where that split comes from with the walks in comparison to the hit by pitches.
Cfor2: What do you think gets someone out of that mind-set? Why would someone move away from pitching inside when that’s the most effective place to pitch most guys?
KMcP: Well, sir, I guess that’s a pretty deep question – some guys, it’ll come down to depending on whether you’re a reliever or a starter. As a starter, the starter should establish both sides of the plate, and show that he CAN command both sides - because if he doesn’t establish that inside half early in the ballgame, then when he turns the ball over to his relieving staff, they’ll try to go in and they’ll get hurt – mainly, in essence, they’re supposed to live away as a reliever, because that’s how you’ll get your quickest outs. I guess it comes down to that mentality – some guys are pitch-to-contact, and they can throw a ball middle-middle and get the results there and some guys, to keep ‘em off their other stuff and to go deeper into a ballgame, I feel it’s a necessity to pitch in.
Cfor2: What’s the best-kept secret about Mobile, AL?
KMcP: Well… [laughs] Well, Mardi Gras is pretty good down there… um…. [long pause] …
Cfor2: I wasn’t trying to stump you…
KMcP: Ha ha!
Cfor2: Let’s say you’re elected to the publicity dept. of the Chamber of Commerce… do you have, maybe, a favorite restaurant?
KMcP: I mean, there’s a lot of good restaurants down on the Causeway, some real good ones… .Also, a main attraction down there is the USS Alabama… that and Mardi Gras… and they have a Moon Pie drop now …
KMcP: …where they do one similar to the ball drop on New Year’s Eve in Times Square…
Cfor2: Wait – a REAL Moon Pie?
KMcP: Yes, sir – because Mobile and New Orleans kind of compete for judgement on who was first on developing and creating Mardi Gras, and they go back and forth on that.
Cfor2: You don’t really get to hit any more…Do you miss hitting?
KMcP: Yes, sir, I do. I do really miss hitting. That’s something I was intrigued with, having an opportunity to come into Major League Spring Training this year and to have an opportunity to swing a bat again, that was something special there – even though they keep it limited, and mainly you’ll do more… there’s more emphasis on bunting, than there is, you know, swinging, but you’re able to get some hacks in, and it felt good to swing the bat again, and then you move back to Minor League Spring Training – and being in the upper level groups we were able to continue to swing the bat a little bit, but, like I say, it’s doing cage work, and you get in 5 or 10-minute splits there that you get to work on…
Cfor2: You have to pick one of the following 3: Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee…
KMcP: Bruce Lee.
Cfor2: Tell me why?
KMcP: He’s the one that always intrigued me as a kid growing up – I have just about every one of his movies – and he’s… I mean, he exemplifies kung fu, you know? And he’s definitely the guy you watched, and he exemplified a lot of the great things there, coming up, and he started his own school, and started his own form of martial arts, so – a very intriguing person, and a pleasure to watch.
Cfor2: Well, Kyle, you have to know that you have what many people will never accomplish, and then, as a subset – baseball players, you know… there’s not too many double black belts.
Cfor2: Who’s the funniest Marauder?
KMcP: Let’s see – - I’m gonna go with Duke Welker. He’s a pleasure to be around – he’s one of my roommates, so I have to put up with him 24/7 [laughing] – he’ll definitely keep you on your toes! I mean, he has a varying sense of humor – it ranges from dry, all the way up… you never know what you’re gonna get with him. It could be any time from 5 o’clock in the morning when you’re getting up, to 1 o’clock in the morning, when you’re getting in [from] off the road and getting into bed, he’s just going that whole time…
Cfor2: What three words do you want people to use when they describe you as a player?
KMcP: Well, let’s see… fearless, competitive….hmmmm…and… a good teammate.
Cfor2: Now, without using any of the words you just used, what three words do you want people to use when they describe you as a a person?
KMcP: Ohh … caring, reserved …man, umm….respectful.
Cfor2: What’s your favorite “Saturday Night” record?
KMcP: Record? [Grumpy Old Man rant: WTH is with these kids today?]
Cfor2: Okay -your favorite Saturday Night music?
KMcP: I’ll hafta go with Country – some Jason Aldean, Brant Lee Gilbert, Christian Kane…maybe some George Strait and Garth Brooks thrown in there.
Cfor2: You and Tony Sanchez, neck-and-neck on the country music there…
KMcP: Really? (I imagine he and “Relentless” have had the opportunity to exchange mp.3′s by now)
Cfor2: And so, what’s your Sunday music?
KMcP: I like to – on Sunday morning, I like to listen to a little Country Gospel, and then, if we have a game on Sunday, then I’ll switch back to just regular country music, but the main genre is gonna remain country. Randy Travis, he’s about my most favorite in there.
Cfor2: What’s the worst thing about doing interviews?
KMcP: Ha ha! I guess being on the spot – you never can tell exactly what the question’s going to be, or how it’s phrased, and you want to give the answer that’s genuine to yourself, and to your fan base, that helps explain it thoroughly for them, I guess that would be the way to generally put it there.