Scottsdale, Ariz. -- If you haven't yet read the story of Mitchell Osnowitz, the Colorado Rockies' newest minor league relief pitcher trying to make a team this spring, please click here and go do that right now. You can also read his own blog, where he chronicles his time with the Rockies, by clicking here.
Our conversation with Osnowitz was far deeper than what that feature piece could convey, though. So, as we've done with other notable interviews we've had with players in the Rockies' organization this winter, we wanted to share some of Osnowitz's words that didn't make it into the piece.
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Mitchell Osnowitz on...
On the plan for him with the Rockies: "I talked to Chris Forbes a little bit, he was the one I was mainly in contact with. He actually just called and said he’d been researching me a little bit, and from what he found, I was a good guy, I’ve got good character, and that’s the type of guys the Rockies want to bring in. So, that means a lot to me. I’ve worked hard to have a good reputation wherever I’ve been, and I think that helps. And then coming into camp, I hope to just make a club. We haven’t really discussed anything in particular, but that will come in spring training. I’m sure they have a plan, but I haven’t been notified of the plan yet."
On being in a new organization this spring: "Everywhere you go, it’s the same game, it’s the same everything. I think it’s helped in a way that I’ve had to bounce around so much [in college], it’s made me mature a lot faster than most guys probably would, and made me fit in to new places and be flexible. Through all that, I got a four year degree which I think is pretty impressive, to be able to stay on track for that through bouncing around. But I think it’s the same game everywhere you go, so at this point I’m pretty much used to it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, before it’s all said and done, I’m one of those guys you see that every year, I've got a new team somewhere. That wouldn’t shock me at all."
On his goals with the Rockies this spring: "I don’t want to be like, ‘everything,’ but we are all working on everything. But being in hitters counts throwing offspeed pitches is probably the biggest thing for me. I’ve really been working hard on it this winter, working on just making sure I can throw everything for a strike, and not just a strikeout curve ball. It’s important to have that, but it’s also equally important to be able to throw the 1-0 or the 2-0 curveball, those kind of pitches, which I think is going to come in time and with feel, getting on the mound again, facing hitters. All that stuff is going to fall into place. Obviously, making the team is the ultimate goal. But I think if every day I can work on the smaller things, like throwing curveballs and changeups in flat grounds, then that’s going to transfer over and lead into making the team."
On being new to pitching with a fresh arm: "My arm is basically a high school kid’s arm. Probably less, because guys in high school throw more than 70 innings or whatever. I think that intrigues them, that’s probably one of the reasons why they like me, they say 'hey, this guy’s got a fresh arm, he’s a big guy, throws hard, and I think we can work with him,' is what they’re probably thinking."
On his past as a hitter being used to his advantage: "I think it helps. You kind of think back to when you’re hitting, and it’s like, ‘OK, here’s what you’re kind of looking for,’ type thing. And I trust the catcher, so if we’re talking and he thinks 'hey, let’s set this guy up this way,' you just kind of go with the situation. But in the back of my mind, it’s like ‘ok, what would I be doing at this time?’ And I just try to play to my strengths and go to their weaknesses, basically. That’s one thing I’ve been trying to learn, is identifying guys’ weaknesses. But it is very different to go from playing every inning every day, to maybe throwing once every three or four days. That’s been the biggest transition, really."
On being an undrafted free agent on the fringe across his career: "I wouldn’t say it’s stressful because if you’re worried about it, if you’re looking over your shoulder everywhere you go, I don’t think you’re going to be able to perform the way you want to. When you’re on a team and in the minors, I really hope that you get treated just as fairly as everyone else as far as getting a look and stuff. I know throughout the years, obviously if a guy’s a first rounder, they probably will get more chances than somebody that’s a non-drafted guy. But at the same time we all get the same chance in my mind. When you get on the field, I don’t think opponents are thinking, ‘oh, when did this guy get drafted.’ I think when you’re out there, it’s as simple as, ‘here’s the pitch I’m going to throw, let’s go with that,’ and it’s just about being confident, really. I don’t really look over my shoulder like that and think, ‘aw man, if I do bad today, then tomorrow I’m going to be out of a job’ just because that’s kind of a negative way to look at it."
On how the Braves used him the last two summers: "When I was with Atlanta, I was used at the end of the game; finish the game in a non-save situation, or maybe a tie game, seventh, eighth, ninth inning, something where we’re seeing if we can get a win or something like that. But I’m comfortable throwing at the end of the game. I like it. I like having the pressure on me. But I also have thrown at times where the starter couldn’t go very long and we needed a guy to eat up some innings. I think I’d prefer to throw more as a late inning guy, I think that’s how I profile best, but at this point, it could really go any way. With the lack of innings that I have, I’m just really looking forward to having somewhere hopefully to get innings. I mean, I don’t really know where it’s at, or what innings there will be during the game, I just want the innings."
On what he learned in Atlanta's minor league system: "The biggest thing that they emphasized is making sure you can stay in the game [mentally]. When you’re playing every day it’s a lot easier to focus. But when you’re out in the bullpen, it’s kind of like, ‘OK well I’m probably not going to throw until the sixth or seventh,’ so you’re kind of paying attention and you’re kind of not. It helps when you really focus in to watch the hitters, and you know who’s pitching for you, so it’s like, ‘OK, we are similar, what’s working?’ If he’s throwing a lot of changeups that day and they can’t hit it, if I come in, it’s like, OK, well, if I come in let’s work the change up, or maybe even work the curveball because they haven’t seen one all day. Stuff like that. What they really taught me is game awareness. But it’s been fun. It’s been a fun couple years."
On his personal blog: "With my blog, my parents thought that’d be a cool idea, that when I’m older it’d be fun to look back at and see. I try to do my best to talk about the real minor league life, I guess, because a lot of people can probably see it from the outside, but having an inside perspective for my friends and family is kind of cool. I try to take a lot of cool pictures, I try to talk about the on-field stuff, but I don’t think that’s as entertaining as the hotel stories, and the off field stuff with the team, the bus rides. Just trying to give people a little bit of a perspective on what a season looks like, basically."