Friday, March 5, 2010
Spring Training Q&A:
Twins Relief Pitcher Jesse Crain
· Parker Hageman, Andrew Kneeland and I Played Pepper with C70, and you can read our responses on the Twins offseason by clicking here.
The Twins used their second round draft pick in 2002 on University of Houston shortstop Jesse Crain. Of course, he was also their closer, and his career with the Twins has been in the bullpen. He quickly ascended through the Twins farm system, and less than two years after he was drafted, he debuted with the Twins. From 2004 through 2006, he was one of the better relievers in the league. Then in 2007, shoulder surgery cut his season short. He impressively returned in 2008 and was quite solid. 2009 was a struggle for Crain and resulted in a mid-season demotion to AAA. It must have been a blessing-in-disguise as he returned to his old form for the Twins during the final six weeks of the season.
I sent him questions this offseason, and he recently responded. This Q&A will be a little different. The first ten questions can be found here. The second part of the interview can be found by going to Jesse’s website JesseCrain.net. The site is brought to you by the same people who created JustinMorneau.com and JoeNathan.com. Be sure to check it out and bookmark it.
…Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: Growing up in Colorado, can I assume that the Rockies were your favorite team? Who were your favorite players?
Jesse Crain: The Rockies became my favorite team in 93 when they came, but the Seattle Mariners were my favorite before that. Ken Griffey Jr. was always my favorite player. Then I began to like Larry Walker and Andres Galarraga.
SethSpeaks: What do you remember about the day in 2002 when the Twins drafted you in the 2nd round?
Jesse Crain: I was at the University of Houston,
it was the week before we were to play in the Super Regional against Texas.
I was sitting in the assistant coach’s office listening online when they
said my name a little earlier than expected. I was very excited.
SethSpeaks: Maybe a strange question, but as a college SS, have you ever wondered where you would be these days if you had been drafted as a shortstop? Do you miss playing every day?
Jesse Crain: I do miss playing shortstop, but it has been a long time now. I like to think about where I would be, but that would be hard. I would like to think I could have made it, but I would not have been drafted in the 2nd round.
SethSpeaks: You signed in July of 2002, and in August of 2004, you were called up to the Twins. What was your minor league experience like because you didn't stay at any level for very long?
Jesse Crain: I was very lucky to have a short stent in the minors. I met a lot of people really quick. I had a fun time though. I learned a lot also at each level. It was also the first time I just focused on pitching, so that as different, but I certainly got better.
SethSpeaks: Tell us a little bit about how you were told that you were going to the big leagues? Who told you, and who were the first people you told?
Jesse Crain: My AAA pitching coach Bobby Cuellar, and manager Phil Roof. I’m glad they had the opportunity to tell me, because I have so much respect for them. It was one of the most exciting days of my life. The 1st person I called was my now wife Becky, then my parents.
SethSpeaks: August 5th, 2004, Twins versus Angels. You made your debut. What are your recollections of that game and how you did?
Jesse Crain: I remember Rick Anderson our pitching coach was telling me that he would try to work me in slowly. I ended up coming in with the bases loaded against Vladimir Guerrero. Got him to hit a grounder to short, but an error was made. I got out of the jam an inning later. It was really exciting, and I was nervous leading up to it, but once you’re in the game, you just focus on what you’re doing.
SethSpeaks: After 18 games in 2007, you had to have a couple of shoulder surgeries. Can you pinpoint what happened? What was going through your mind throughout the process?
Jesse Crain: I had a couple times where my shoulder would hurt pretty bad, then after one outing I knew something wasn’t right. When I got an MRI, it showed a slight tear in my labrum, and a dime size hole in my rotator cuff. I was actually a little relieved, because I knew something wasn’t right, and I hadn’t been pitching very well, and that explained it. I went to a great surgeon in NYC named David Altchek, and he repaired me perfectly in one surgery.
SethSpeaks: You came back right away in 2008, and pitched quite well. At what point did you know you were ok, that you were back and the shoulder was fine?
Jesse Crain: I worked real hard from June of 07 until spring training of 08. Once I started pitching in games during that spring training, I could tell that my velocity was back, and I was pretty close. The hard part was being able to pitch in back to back games. It took me about half the season to do that.
SethSpeaks: In the one month you spent in Rochester in 2009, what was the biggest thing that you worked on?
Jesse Crain: You never want to be sent down, but at that point it was nice to be able to go to a place with no pressure and work on things. They had some great players on that Rochester team, and I had fun and made some good friends. I was also able to work with Bobby Cuellar again, who helped me make my way up. He got me back to short arming the ball, like an infielder, which was how I used to throw. I slowly got longer with my arm, which may have been caused by the surgery, and that caused my ball to lose life and movement.
SethSpeaks: I believe you have kids. How does that alter your life, specifically how can it affect the baseball portion of your life?
Jesse Crain: I have 2 kids, Hunter 3, and Avery 18mo. I think having kids helps you leave the game at the field. When you walk off the field, it is great to see their faces. You get less sleep, but it is amazing having kids.
… To read the remainder of this two-part Q&A with Jesse Crain, click here to go to JesseCrain.net.