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When minor leaguers get the "call" up to the major leagues it can be a very emotional time. The "call" is the realization of a lifetime dream; their parents, friends and teammates are all delighted; and it is a thrill to walk into the clubhouse for the first time. But it is also a frightening time, the player might question their abilities, wonder if they really belong here, and wonder what will happen if they make a mistake or get off to a slow start. Are they here to stay, or will they be back to the minor leagues in short order? Alexis Rios appears to be here to stay, Adam Peterson went back down. I had a chance to talk with Adam when I was in Buffalo last week.

Adam has been doing a lot of thinking over the past few weeks. Adam had been on the Blue Jay fast track, but when he was called up in June reality hit and he was sent down to AAA within two weeks. AAA has not been much kinder, as Adam currently sports a 9.45 ERA for Syracuse. Adam reflected on making the major leagues, how he changed his approach, and his attempts to get back on track.

Adam Peterson hails from Wisconsin, as does fellow Blue Jay, Eric Hinske. I asked Adam about playing ball in the frozen north. "I played High School and Legion ball. You were lucky to get 40 games in a year. I played shortstop, I never pitched until my senior year of High School, so I was a late bloomer in that aspect. I was a starting pitcher that year and also in college. I never came out of the bullpen until the Jays drafted me." Peterson was drafted by the Blue Jays in the fourth round of the 2002 draft, but that was not the first time Peterson had been drafted. "The first time I was drafted out of high school and I was not ready. I was a draft eligible sophomore in 2001 but I was drafted late. I decided to go back as I was projected to be a first round pick and I wanted to get more work and polish up but then I hurt my arm. Then the Jays drafted me in the fourth round."

I asked about the bullpen transition. "I had had some arm troubles and I had thrown continuously to build it up and the Jays put me in the pen to rest it and I did well. I like it now. I strained my lat and I was out for three months and then I had a slap lesion and a muscle tear but everything is fine now. After I got hurt I had to go on a shoulder program which I had never done before, and I lowered my arm angle to take pressure off my shoulder, and with coming out of the bullpen I was able to throw a lot harder."

Peterson started strongly in AA this year. "I really tried to develop the off speed in the first half of the year, being able to throw it for strikes in hitters counts. It got to the point where I was comfortable with my three pitches and commanding them all and I was on a roll and they sent me up. I was very surprised to skip a level which hadn't been done by a lot of guys in the organization."

What about the big leagues? "It was fun getting to the big leagues this year. Getting sent down let me sit down and think a bit, about doubting my own stuff and what I was doing and it made me struggle down here my first few weeks both mechanically and with my mind. But hopefully things are back on track and we can start rolling again. My first time (on the mound) I was really nervous, my second time was all right (no runs and two walks in an inning against Montreal), and the third time things didn't click for me (three hits and two runs in an inning against Tampa). You know sometimes when you are struggling you go back to throwing, and you stop pitching. I have been trying to find answers in my delivery, changing my leg kick, or my glove location, or my set position, and instead of going back to what I know how to do I started changing everything and it made me dig myself into a rut, but I think I am getting out of it."

And how are things now, back in AAA? "Now that I am back in AAA I'm not in a groove yet, I am trying to do the same you do everywhere, command my fastball and being able to throw my off speed when I am behind in the count. My mentality recently had been when you get behind it was harder, harder, harder, instead of taking something off and finding the zone again."

How does Adam find the AAA hitters? "I have not seen enough, with the way I have been throwing, to tell the difference with the hitters. You do have a lot of veteran hitters here, with major league time, you are not going to surprise them. But whether you are here or in the big leagues, it is all about execution. Whether you are throwing 89 or 99, if you can hit your spots and mix it up you can get guys out."

With Adam telling me about his struggles in the big leagues I tried to change the tone and I asked Adam about his good memories of his time in the big leagues, if he remembered getting anyone in particular out. "I don't think I was there long enough to grasp any of it. My head was on a swivel as soon as I got there, when this guy comes off the DL will I get sent back down? My mind wasn't there to stay right away. You see guys warming up and you know their names forever: I faced guys like Fred McGriff and Tino Martinez, it is pretty awesome. I wasn't so much in awe of the hitters as I was not comfortable with myself. I think when I am on the mound I can get anyone out but I wasn't throwing like I was in AA."

I threw the old cliche to Adam, about just pitching the same way in the big leagues as you do in the minors but he wasn't biting. "It is the easiest thing to say but when you get out there....I can't explain the feeling, I felt my legs were shaking the whole time I was playing, it was pretty amazing. It is an up and down game, a lot of guys don't stay their first time, I am looking forward to getting back there and hopefully this time I stay. You cannot put a price on experience. I know what I have to do to get up there I know what I have to do to stay. It is not about stuff it is about controlling my pitches and controlling my emotions, making them work for me and not against."

Adam's first trip to the major leagues was a learning experience. The Blue Jays pushed Adam, in retrospect maybe too hard. I would doubt that Adam will get a September call-up but in 2005, with the realization that he belongs in the major leagues, Adam should have better mental readiness when he next gets the "call".
An Interview with Adam Peterson | 3 comments | Create New Account
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_Blue in SK - Tuesday, August 10 2004 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#43886) #
Very good interview. I look forward to his next trip back to the bigs. It sounds as though he has learned some valuable lessons during his short stint.
Mike Green - Tuesday, August 10 2004 @ 03:28 PM EDT (#43887) #
Gerry, that was one fine interview. I learned a fair bit about Peterson that I did not know previously, and I got a feel for his makeup. The Jays might be wise to try him in the "Ward" rather than the "Henke" role to start. Between Peterson, League and Vermilyea, there should be ample support for the bullpen arriving at the Skydome sometime in 2005.
Pistol - Tuesday, August 10 2004 @ 06:15 PM EDT (#43888) #
Reading Peterson's comments make you appreciate the relatively seemless transition that Bush has made to the rotation.
An Interview with Adam Peterson | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.