I was able to catch up with Mets minor league pitcher, lefty Steve Matz the other day, and I asked him how his arm was feeling with spring training right around the corner. Steve has already reported to the complex at St. Lucie to begin his throwing program in warm weather. He went under the knife, with TJS on his pitching elbow in 2010, and had to be shut down when he tried to pitch last season and the elbow flared up on him. He has been waiting a long time to make his Mets minor league debut, and working hard in his rehab, and it looks like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep reading to get the latest from Steve on where he is at, in his long road back.
Petey: We are chatting today with NY Mets 2009 Top Draft Pick, Steve Matz. Steve is a local product from East Setauket, NY, who is looking forward to making his professional debut this season. Hi Steve how are you doing? Thanks so much for taking time to answer a few questions for the readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. When the Mets drafted you out of Ward Melville High School, in the 2nd round of the 2009 MLB Player draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you know the Mets were interested in drafting you? What round(s) were you thinking you might be taken in the draft?
Steve: Well, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to get drafted on the first day, but you could never be too sure because anything could happen on draft day. I was sitting at home with my parents and first heard about it by watching it on the computer. I knew the Mets were interested but I never got a call before their pick, so I figured I wasn’t going to get picked. So it was definitely a surprise when I heard John Franco call my name. I was told that most teams were saying 2nd round for me.
Petey: Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you have learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of one day becoming a major league baseball player?
Steve: One great thing about baseball is that I have met many good people playing this game, so there are a bunch of people that have helped me and inspired me. My parents especially have been a great influence on me, stressing to keep working hard and staying focused. My high school coach Lou Petrucci has really helped me throughout high school. He’s a guy who just truly loves the game, and spent hours upon hours indoors, between 6am practices before school started, or weekends, anytime I needed him he was there.
Petey: In your first two seasons since being drafted, you have been unable to take the field due to injury. First TJS on your pitching elbow in 2010, then a setback in your rehab last season that prevented you from pitching at all in 2011. The big question is: how Is your arm now? With spring training just a little over a month away, are you on schedule to be able to pitch normally from the get-go? And with no limitations? Would you say that your velocity has returned?
Steve: Yes it’s been a long road back. It’s been feeling good, and I’m going to continue to do everything I can to keep it healthy. God willing I’ll be ready to go come spring. My velocity was always something I worried about coming back from this surgery, but when I had a little taste of the mound before the set-back last season, my velocity was there.
Petey: Considering you haven’t pitched in awhile, what would you say are reasonable goals for you to have for this season?
Steve: Reasonable goals for me I would say, to come out of spring training and make a team. Then if I can make a team, try to stay healthy for the whole year.
Petey: The existing scouting reports on your pitches are rather dated. Before your injury it was: fastball 88-92 mph with natural tailing action, curveball that lacked consistency, and a change-up that was a work-in-progress. If you could Steve, update us a little about your arsenal.
Steve: I am not really 100 percent sure on what my stuff is like now because I had a real small taste of it before my elbow flared up again. I am really looking forward to this year. Hopefully I can be healthy, I am just going to go after pro hitters with my best stuff I got. It’s going to be a big learning year, I am not expecting to go out there and strike everyone out. I am looking to learn from my mistakes and just build off that.
Petey: What part of your game are you planning on working the hardest on this coming season?
Steve: This year I really want to focus on not getting rattled if I have a bad outing. Instead, build off that, and learning from it like I said in the last answer.
Petey: What do you like to do for fun when your not playing baseball? What is your workout schedule like these days? Can you describe your regimen?
Steve: When I am not playing baseball I still like to be outdoors. Anything from fishing, camping or just sitting around a fire with some buddies from back home, and this past year I have started hunting. I just got to Port St. Lucie to be in the warm weather as I start to throw again. So I can get an early start before spring training is here, working out with a couple of other guys.
Petey: You grew up on Long Island, were you a Mets fan? (say yes) Who was your favorite player? Is there a major league player, past or present, that you think you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself pitching like someday in the majors?
Steve: Yeah I was a Mets fan growing up. Currently when Johan Santana is healthy he is really fun to watch. There was no one particular player that was my favorite. I’ve heard that my style was similar to Andy Pettitte, but I really am not sure. That would be pretty cool if I can have as much success as him though.
Petey: Since you joined the Mets organization, pick one player in the system that has really impressed you with his play, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.
Steve: Definitely Santana because we were both in rehab together. Seeing the way he goes about his business is impressive. What I took notice from him is, that being an athlete on the mound matters. He is a competitor, and one heck of an athlete, and all that contributes to his success. To go along with the stuff he has, is why he has a couple of Cy Young awards.
Petey: Yes, Johan is a very special player, hopefully you will both come back strong in 2012! To finish up Steve, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Steve: Favorite movie has got to be Forrest Gump, favorite musician is either Justin Moore or Reckless Kelly, and I’ll tell you this, that the only food I don’t like is olives. I literally like every food, but a good old fashion burger has got to be on top of that list somewhere.
Petey: Thanks again Steve for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a healthy and successful season this year, and we’ll see you on the bump at spring training!
Steve: No problem, Thank you!
Well here’s wishing Steve the best of luck in his throwing program, and a speedy return to the mound! It’s been a long time coming, but soon we’ll get to see him pitching for real in live game situations. Go get ’em Steve! We’ll check back with him again and see how things are going.
For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.