Changing gears just a bit here on Behind The Steel Curtain as we patiently await the start of training camp later this month. Today we have an interview with a good friend of mine - Ross Ohlendorf, a starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ross was kind enough to answer a few questions for me during the All Star break festivities of Major League Baseball.
The Pirates currently stand at 38-50 in the NL Central, 9.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. They are however just 8 games back in the loss column of the Cards and 6 games out of third place. With the division seemingly a three or four team race at least, the Pirates could very well find themselves back in the thick of things if they could get on a couple week run. I spoke with my old friend, Ross Ohlendorf, about his first season with the Pirates during the All-Star Break. Ohlendorf is currently 7-7 with a 4.64 ERA. He has a solid 2:1 K/BB ratio The interview can be found after the jump.
1) First of all, congratulations on your 7 inning, 2-hit shutout gem a few weeks ago that was highlighted by 8 strikeouts and 0 walks. That gives you 7 wins for the year, tied for 23rd most in all of baseball and good for second most on the Pirates (Zach Duke 8). Being that this is your first year as a regular starter since 2006, do you feel pleased with your individual progress making the transition to pitching every five days rather than out of the bullpen?
2) How does a young pitcher negotiate 'pacing' himself over the course of a long season, particularly after spending the previous two years pitching in relief where 'saving' one's arm is less important? You've of course been clocked in the mid to high 90s, but seem to be trying to 'pitch' rather than merely throw hard now that you're starting. On a somewhat similar note, are there days out there where you just feel significantly fresher or looser out there on the mound and what kinds of things do pitchers think about when they know they don't have their best stuff or aren't feeling their best physically?
3) Switching gears here - how are you liking Pittsburgh so far? How does it compare to living in the New York area where you were pitching last season?
4) Favorite place to have a sitdown, nice dinner in Pittsburgh? Favorite place to grab a quick bite?
Ohlendorf: I really like a restaurant called Eleven, though it is expensive. I eat at Atria's quite a bit - it is attached to the field and they have really good salmon.
5) Favorite book you've read since the start of the season?
6) I've played a few games of cards with you over the years and I know you're never shy about splashing some chips in the middle of the table. Do you and your teammates play on the road? Any player you particularly enjoy playing against?
7) Anyone who knows you knows how modest you are for all your tremendous accomplishments athletically, scholastically and even with you and your father's business venture/hobby raising Longhorn cattle back in your native Central Texas. What was it like having a feature article written about you by ESPN's senior writer Tim Kurkjian. He seems like a really nice man in addition to a great columnist and baseball historian.
8) Did you catch Penguins fever at all during the team's run to the Stanley Cup? I know us Texas folks weren't raised on hockey whatsoever, but from the sound of it, the city was just electric during the NHL playoffs.
9) The team finished the month of June 15-14, the first winning June since 1996 (if I recall correctly). Despite a couple of tough stretches in May and having the lineup altered with multiple personnel changes, you guys are just 6 games out of first place and perhaps just one or two solid weeks of play from being right back in the thick of things in the NL Central during a year where it seems like all the teams are going to beat up on each other and prohibit any one club from running away with things. Do you guys still feel optimisitic about your chances to make a run later this summer?
10) Favorite Pirates pitcher to watch on your days off?
11) Toughest batter for you thus far in your Big League career?
12) Favorite city to travel to? Favorite ball park to pitch in outside of PNC Park?
13) Can you promise us here at Behind The Steel Curtain that once you've befriended Ben Roethlisberger or any other Steelers players that you'll tell them what's up on our behalf and to come by for a chat with us? :) Just kidding, Ross! Congratulations on a solid start to the season for you individually and best of luck to you and the Pirates for the remainder of the year. We'd love to do it again sometime in the future.