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Now pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays ... Spike Lundberg.

Be honest, the name sounds a little bit like one created for a character in the latest Major League movie, but instead of "Wild Thing" blaring from the stadium speakers as Ricky Vaughn trots in from the bullpen, it's the haunting notes of "That Old Black Magic" (by Spike Jones, natch) filling the stadium as the crowd roars its approval.

Could that scene be coming to a SkyDome near you as early as Summer 2005? Well, David "Spike" Lundberg, a lanky 6'1" right-hander recently signed by the Blue Jays, certainly hopes so.

Lundberg is still a favorite in Texas Ranger circles, in part because of his frequent personal contributions to the Newberg Report, one of the earliest (and still most innovative) uses of the online world to report on Minor Leage Baseball. And now as Lundberg comes to the Toronto organization, it's time to welcome him to Batter's Box.

Spike has kindly agreed to an introductory interview with Da Box, and as we have done in the past, we'll open up this thread to take your questions for Spike. It is entirely possible that he will answer some of them himself here – but we will also gather representative questions and have an e-mail interview with him leading to a "Stepping into Da Box" feature sometime shortly.

"I'm glad to hear there's a Web site similar to the NMLR focusing on the Blue Jays," wrote Lundberg in a recent e-mail. "It's great for my family to follow ... I'm very excited about the upcoming season." If you want to catch up with some of Lundberg's history yourself, he kept a fairly detailed Spring Training and Arizona Fall League Online Diary for the NMLR during the 2000 season(s).

In those diaries, Lundberg reveals that he was primarily an infielder (though he also pitched) at at Mira Mesa High School in San Diego. Then, when he went undrafted out of high school, he opted for San Diego State University, where he was the Opening Day third baseman his freshman year before moving to shortstop on a regular basis. "During the fall of 1996, I started coming into games in the ninth to pitch," recalled Lundberg. "That's where Texas scout Jim Lentine first saw me. I worked out for Lentine three more times leading up to the June draft in 1997." He was moved to the mound permanently after the Rangers took him in the 26th round of that 1997 draft.

Since then, "I've had just about every role a pitcher could have," said Lundberg. "I like to think I've been somewhat successful in almost any kind of situation, whether it's back to back games as a reliever, or giving my team a quality start every time out."

In fact, Lundberg has flashed great success from both the rotation and the bullpen in his minor league career. He exploded onto the scene in '97 with 23.1 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to start his career, and ended up leading the (GCL) Gulf Coast Rangers with five saves. The next season with Savannah, his ERA ballooned to 5.54, though he still led the team in both appearances, with 50, and saves, with 14.

He shifted to a starting role the next season and in 1999 finished second in the Florida State League in victories by compiling a 14-7 mark for Charlotte, then repeated his success a rung up the ladder in 2000, again second in the league in wins, and again 14-7 overall, this time for AA Tulsa.

Bvy 2003, Spike was back in the bullpen – but don't think of it as a demotion. In fact, it earned him All-Star honors as he picked up a save in the Texas Leage (AA) All-Star Game, and added 31 more in the regular season for the Frisco Roughriders. He also was 1-0 with a save in four playoff appearances for Frisco.

Way back in 1999, in the inaugural edition of the NMLR Ask the Prospect feature, Lundberg described himself this way:

"Basically I throw four pitches – fastball, curve, slider, and change. My best pitch by far is my changeup. But I have just as much confidence in my sinker, which I use different grips. The key to getting outs for me is keeping the hitters off balance with my change and getting groundballs with my sinkers. My velocity on my four-seam fastball is usually 88-91, and my sinker which I throw most of the time is 86-89."

So, Spike Lundberg – starting pitcher or bullpen guy?

"The way I look at it is, most guys get to the bigs as a reliever first," said Lundberg. "With my arm's ability to bounce back quick compared to most pitchers, I know the value I [can] provide to a big league staff." At the time, Lundberg compared his potential value to a team to that of Ramiro Mendoza when he was having success with the Yankees.

Still, he said, "I believe the key to my success as a starter is simply because I have starter's stuff compared to a short reliever. I throw five pitches, and have command of four that I can throw on any count. When I'd come in to relieve, sometimes I'd only use two pitches, and it wasn't hard to guess what I was throwing."

Though he grew up – and still resides – in San Diego, Lundberg's favorite team as a kid was the Cincinnati Reds. "And my favorite player was Barry Larkin," he recalled. Of course, Larkin is one of those guys Da Box has started to make a "pitch" for the Blue Jays to sign for 2005, so Lundberg could conceiveably find himself firing a sinker to an opposing hitter who beats the ball into the ground at his boyhood hero.

Finally, since you're no doubt wondering ... "I got the nickname 'Spike' when I was a baby -- from my grandmother because my hair always stuck up," admitted Lundberg.

Now, what else do you Boxers want to know? (Oh, and welcome to the Blue Jays organization, Spike ... and welcome to Da Box.)
Ask Spike: Newest Jay Takes to the Web (Again) | 28 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Gerry - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 01:50 PM EST (#11458) #
I have a few questions:

Did Spike leave Texas as a 6 year free agent. If yes, why? Did he think Texas wanted to keep him?

Why sign with the Phillies and was it what he expected?

Now why the Jays, what was promised and what does he expect?

What has he heard about the Jays minor league system?
_DeMarco - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 01:50 PM EST (#11459) #
Welcome to the Jays Spike!

I'm always interested in hearing players pre-conceived ideas of Toronto. What do you know about this city and what are you expecting if you do get the call to the show? Also who is your all-time favourite Jay.
robertdudek - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 01:52 PM EST (#11460) #
Welcome, Spike.

You've played in 7 different minor leagues in your pro career. What are the main differences between the lower and higher minors, as far as travel, accomodations and things to do are concerned?
robertdudek - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 01:57 PM EST (#11461) #
Last year you played against Blue Jays farmhands in the Eastern and International League (New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Syracuse Skychiefs). Do you know any of them from your college or minor league days?
Mike Green - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 01:57 PM EST (#11462) #
Here's a quick question for Spike: have there been any changes to your repertoire since the 1999 comment above?

Welcome to Toronto, Spike.
_Marc - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 02:36 PM EST (#11463) #
Spike, welcome.
You have always had solid numbers in the minors, but you've never made it to the majors... Why do you think that is and what do you need to do (or improve on) to make it to that next level?
_Rob - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 03:56 PM EST (#11464) #
Welcome to the Toronto organization, Spike.

Looking at your numbers in 2001 and 2002, I noticed that you didn't seem to repeat your AA success in Triple-A Oklahoma. Was it the high-scoring nature of the Pacific Coast League or did you not feel comfortable pitching in AAA?

Perhaps Spike could also fill out the Roster questionnaire?
_Mick - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 04:03 PM EST (#11465) #
great idea, Rob. here it is; I've filled in what we know already and will leave the rest to Spike, if he so chooses and added a couple since we've never had a player fill it out before. Spike, click "Roster" at the top left of the site to see how these are being answered:

Bats: B
Throws: R
Born: San Diego, CA, US
Resides: San Diego, CA, US
Major-League Comp to Little League Career:
Favourite Team:
Favourite Player (current):
Favourite Player (all-time):
Best Game Attended In Person:
Best Game Played in (your peformance):
Best Game Played in (overall experience):
Baseball Book:
Favourite Play in Baseball:
Favourite Ballpark:
Striding-To-The-Plate Music:
Three Unshakable Baseball Beliefs:
_Ducey - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 04:09 PM EST (#11466) #
Hey Spike

Hope to see you make the Jays this year. Aside from wins and outs, what individual stat do you pay most attention to as an indication you are pitching well?
_Spike - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 05:10 PM EST (#11467) #
Hello to all of you in Da Box! Thanks for the great questions. I'll do my best to answer all of them.

POST #26121
I did leave the Texas Rangers' organization as a six year free agent. I actually signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and was traded in spring training to the Philadelphia Phillies... It was hard leaving Texas, but I felt I had a better opportunity with another club.

It wasn't hard making my decision to sign with the Blue Jays' organization. I feel I have been given a legitimate shot at helping the big league club. I'm very excited about that. Plus, I've heard nothing but great things from former Blue Jays' players.

POST #26122
The players that I've talked to all rave about the city of Toronto. They love it... I'd have to say that Roberto Alomar is my favorite all time Jay. I wasn't too happy when the Padres traded him.

POST #26124
After playing for a while and experiencing winter ball, you get to know a bunch of different guys. It was fun playing against Syracuse and facing Simon Pond. He was on my team in Puerto Rico and we hungout a bunch... And then it was good to see Ryan Glynn throw the ball well. He was always a guy I looked up to in the Rangers' organization. He's one of those guys that the coaches tell the younger kids to watch how he goes about his business.

POST #26125
There have been a few changes since 1999. For the most part, I've been in relief the last two seasons, so I haven't thrown a curveball in those two years. I still rely on my sinker and command of my fastball. I've also worked on throwing my slider much harder.

POST #26126
I'm not sure why I haven't gotten the opportunity to pitch at the big league level yet. With Texas, I stumbled in AAA for two years. My pitch selection wasn't too good then. I do know I was the "next" guy in 2003 a couple of times, but they received some quality pitching the next few games each time. So you can say luck plays a role... I just have to stay consistent and the time will come. It's one of those things that you can't control. You just have to put yourself close to the top of that list and stay there until they need you.

POST #26127
The change from AA to AAA was caused by the better hitters. You make a mistake in AAA and they don't miss it. At AA, there are still some pretty raw hitters and they will chase or maybe even think too much and watch a hanging slider go by.

POST #26129
I'll admit, I'm a stat rat and can probably tell you all of my stats. The ones that I focus on, outside of the two you mentioned, are walks and HR. Too many homeruns is probably a sign that you're leaving the ball up and over the plate... Nobody likes walks. I don't even like to talk about them.
Mike D - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 05:27 PM EST (#11468) #
Spike, do you take something off your sinker, or do you throw at as hard as your fastball with a different grip?

What's the natural movement like on your fastball?

Welcome to Toronto and the Batter's Box community!
_Spike - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 05:34 PM EST (#11469) #
Roster stuff

Bats: B
Throws: R
Born: San Diego, CA, US
Resides: San Diego, CA, US
Major-League Comp to Little League Career: Young Tony Gwynn (slap hitter) and Barry Larkin with the glove
Favourite Team: Reds
Favourite Player (current): Larkin, and the others play for the evil empire...haha
Favourite Player (all-time): Tony Gwynn
Best Game Attended In Person: any game during the 98 season when Caminiti would go deep and then Hell's Bells started playing before Trevor Hoffman even stepped off the bullpen mound.
Best Game Played in (your peformance): My last nine starts of the 2000 season.
Best Game Played in (overall experience): First pro game with family in the stands.
Baseball Book: The Mental Game of Baseball
Favourite Play in Baseball: Deion Sanders hitting a triple, Vlad throwing a guy out, Tony Gwynn single, Rickey Henderson leadoff HR.
Favourite Ballpark: Wrigley Field
Striding-To-The-Plate Music: Theme to RBI Baseball on Nintendo
Three Unshakable Baseball Beliefs: 1)Babe Ruth is the best player of all time (he could pitch too!) 2) Barry Bonds combined his skills with Ken Griffey Jr.'s and left Junior nothing 3) There isn't a better feeling than standing on the mound watching your shortstop and second baseman turn a double play to get you out of it.
Mike D - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 05:42 PM EST (#11470) #
My sincere apologies for the typo in my question...I meant to say "throw it as hard," of course.
Named For Hank - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 05:46 PM EST (#11471) #
Striding-To-The-Plate Music: Theme to RBI Baseball on Nintendo

Thanks, I have a big silly grin on my face now.

Hope to see you up with the big club!
_Rob - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 05:50 PM EST (#11472) #
Spike, without getting into too much detail, what do you do in the winter to stay in game shape?
_Master of Zubaz - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 06:03 PM EST (#11473) #
Spike... you made my day with RBI baseball. Naturally that was from those great days in the mid-80s where the only players who cared about conditioning were in Oakland! :)

Seriously Spike; I wish you all the best and hope to see you serving as a valuable member of the Jays Bullpen.

Question for you Spike: What was the better series then? RBI Baseball or Bases Loaded?
Pistol - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 06:25 PM EST (#11474) #
Spike - You mentioned that you're very aware of stats, and that you dislike walks and allowing home runs.

Are you aware of sabermetrics, and more specifically are you aware of DIPS and if so what do you think of it as a pitcher?

What's the process for a minor league free agent such as yourself coming off of a real nice year in AAA? Did you have several teams interested in you? Is there much of a difference between offers that you receive from teams? Is the primary decision on the team you sign with the one with the best chance to make the majors?

_Jobu - Monday, November 15 2004 @ 08:58 PM EST (#11475) #
I always thought you could tell alot about someone by their favourite movie, tv show and band. Which would those be in your case Spike?

Welcome to the organization and I hope I'll get to see you in the Dome one day.
_CaramonLS - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 12:48 AM EST (#11476) #
Good day to you Spike, Glad you made time to come and chat with us here in BB. I have little doubt that you will be given a VERY good look during spring training, unless JP waves his magic stick and grabs us a lot more arms.

Spike do you like being a releiver? Or would you hope that maybe you could one day start again?

Also Spike, Walk me through an at bat, what is your pitching style? Personally I've never watched you pitch, but do you have a ton of movement on your sinker? Do you Try to pick corners and stay in the strike zone ala Towers or do you throw a lot of stuff outside of the zone trying to get hitters to chase?
_Michael - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 02:59 AM EST (#11477) #
Thanks for taking the time to post online, I think it is great that you and some other professional baseball players are willing to do that.

I want to follow up on Pistol's DIPS question. I saw that you mentioned in your previous writing that you don't always concentrate on strikeouts but often try to get batters to hit the ball into an out in the first 3 pitches. Does that reflect something you do on your own? Or are there coaches that encourage or discourage that style of pitching?
_Jeff Geauvreau - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 06:32 AM EST (#11478) #
Thank You for posting here at batter’s box Spike and it is a privilege to have you be so open with the fans.

We have a cheer club here at batter’s box Spike that attends games regularly.

What are your favorite and less favorite nicknames you have been called over the years?

Here are some anagrams on your full name Spike Lundberg.


How about "Beeping Dr Sulk" come out and strike out the hitters.
A little lame oh well.

Jeff Geauvreau
_Mick - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 09:48 AM EST (#11479) #
Methinks "Be Kind Pre-Slug" would be a really, really bad nickname for a pitcher, anagramatic or not.
_Smack - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 01:21 PM EST (#11480) #
"Rebel Digs Punk"

_S.Bialo - Tuesday, November 16 2004 @ 04:19 PM EST (#11481) #
Welcome to the organization, Spike. I won't bother posting a question since there are a ton of good ones up there already, but a huge thanks for taking the time to throw us a bone during the long cold off-season.

And, RBI Baseball rules.
_Spike - Friday, November 19 2004 @ 12:06 PM EST (#11482) #
Sorry it took a couple of days, but here are some more answers to your recent questions...

POST #261211
With my sinker, I don't try to do anything special with it. I used to really try to make the ball do too much. (That's the problem with watching Maddux make it look so easy. haha) In the 2002 season, another pitcher, Dan Murray, was getting groundball after groundball. I asked him what he was doing and he showed me his grip. He then said all you have to do is throw it as hard as you can and the grip will do the work for you.

I think the natural movement on my fastball is to run a little bit back into a RH. The sinker gives you a little more room for error, because as long as you keep it down, sometimes you can leave it over the plate.

POST #261215
Staying in baseball shape is important. Right now, I'm running and doing some light work with weights. I'll get my arm back in shape when December comes around... I've spent most offseasons playing winterball in one place or another, so it's actually been really nice to relax for a bit.

POST #261216
RBI or Bases Loaded??? I like the fact that Bases Loaded was one of the first, if not the first, games to have the batter charge the mound. That was awesome back in the day. RBI is a classic. You never know when you're going to hang that changeup though... The visiting clubhouse in Louisville actually has the huge arcade version of RBI Baseball... My vote for one game is RBI, but Bases Loaded was probably the better series. Nothing beats the Strat-O-Matic board game.

POST #261217
I have to say I'm not too familiar with DIPS. I'll have to look it up on the net and see what it's all about...
Free agency can be kind of crazy. I've been lucky enough to have two good seasons going into FA, so there's been plenty of interest. I don't want to ever experience it after a rough season... How it works is the Philadelphia Phillies had my rights for about a month before I could even talk to other teams. Once that deadline passes, then you're free to talk to everyone and they can also contact you. Once the calls start coming in, it's very exciting because you have to picture yourself in that organization and figure out if it's the best opportunity for you... Although minor league salaries aren't as great as the bigs, there can be a large range of offers from each organization. The hard part, especially for minor leaguers, is not to get blinded by the money side and stick to your guns as far as finding the best opportunity to pitch in the big leagues. You might lose money on the minor league salary, but if you're in the big leagues, you usually come out ahead by a little bit..haha

POST #261218
Favorite movies: Shawshank Redemption, Old School, Remember the Titans, Rudy, Caddyshack, Bull Durham
Favorite music: Jay-Z, Coldplay, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, N*E*R*D
Favorite TV show: Seinfeld, Las Vegas, PTI

POST #261219
There are positives and negatives to each role. I like relieving because you're in there more often. If you have a rough outing, you can get right back in there in the next couple of days. The downside is that you're never really sure when you're going to pitch. Just when you slip a little bit, that's when the phone rings for you to get going... You know when you're pitching if you're in the rotation. It's your day. I love that part of starting. I feel like every 5th day it's up to me to win that game. It feels great that next day if you just pitched a complete game for your team. You might have won the night before and you might have won the next night's game by saving your bullpen so they're fresh. It's also the worst feeling when you lose, knowing you have to wait 5 days.

Every hitter is different. What I've learned is don't give them too much credit. The odds say that you're going to get them out. Like I said in a previous answer, I've learned not to do too much. Less is more. My approach to every hitter is to get ahead. I don't think I have a great amount of movement like Kevin Brown or Jake Peavy, but I think I have enough to where if I throw the ball down in the zone, I will get outs. For that reason, I'm trying to throw strikes.

POST #261220
Three pitches or less is something that was stressed to me during my last couple of seasons with the Texas organization. They kept a stat all season that told us pitches per batter faced. The goal was 3 pitches. I was 3.41 that season. They told me that was one of the best in the organization. I've never really struckout too many guys until the last couple of years. I think it's important at times, especially for a reliever coming in to get out of a jam. For a starter, it's about quality innings and saving pitch counts.

POST #261221
I've heard plenty of nicknames being called Spike all my life. There have been some pretty good ones and some pretty bad ones. I hadn't seen any of the ones you posted... Lately I've been getting yelled at more for my last name thanks to Bill Lumbergh in the movie "Office Space"... For those of you who've seen it, you can imagine what the younger fans are yelling at me. Seem to hear it more on Thirsty Thursdays...haha

Thanks again for the great questions. It's fun to answer them and it gets me pumped up for this next season.
Named For Hank - Friday, November 19 2004 @ 12:47 PM EST (#11483) #
Spike, it's mutual -- all your great answers are getting us pumped to see you up here with the Jays ASAP. Thanks a ton for doing this.
Mike Green - Friday, November 19 2004 @ 01:41 PM EST (#11484) #
Spike, thanks again. One follow-up question. You mentioned that one of the things you prefer about starting over relief work is knowing when you're going to pitch. Texas had a "tandem starter" approach which I think they implemented for single A and below after you had passed through those levels in their system. The idea is that both the starter and the first reliever out of the pen (who might throw 3-4 innings) for a particular game are scheduled in advance.

How would you, as a pitcher, feel about this kind of "scheduled" relief work? How does the idea of a regular 2-3 innings every 4 days compare with the more traditional erratic bullpen work, where you might pitch an inning on 3 straight days and then get 3-5 days rest?
_Jabonoso - Friday, November 19 2004 @ 07:32 PM EST (#11485) #
Talking to one the guys down there is great!
Spike, as you have said, you have played in winter a few times.
I'm concerned about the outcomes. Sometimes the player comes sharper to spring training and it seems that is a positive thing all around. But more often than not, the player ( particularly pitchers ) seems to get tired and maybe, even injured. Whats your opinion or concerns about it?
Do the organizations monitor winter play for his players?
What should change or what should be done to have a plus from winter playing regarding summer leagues?
Thank you...

Note to Newberg Minor League Report readers who may be visiting Da Box for the first time after Jamey plugged this interview in his e-mail update today (12/4) ... unfortunately, after an individual thread "rolls off" the front page, usually after about a week, the "Comments" function is disabled. If you have a comment about Batter's Box, please feel free to post it in our regular Hijack Central Thread. If you have a question for Spike, please send it to Mick Doherty and it will be incorporated into any followup threads. Thanks very much to Jamey for the plug, and welcome, Ranger Farm Animals, to Batter's Box.
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