Some big positives that can be taken from the NY Mets 2011 season were the contributions, and emergence, of some promising young players that were called up from the minors. During the year, the Mets relied heavily on players like: Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee, and Justin Turner. And in September, we got to see some very interesting pitching performances, by righties Chris Schwinden and Josh Stinson. I caught up to Stinson this week, and despite a very busy off-season he was good enough to provide us with some awesome insights, and answers to a whole bunch of interesting questions! Let’s see what Josh had to say:
Petey: We are chatting today with Josh Stinson of the NY Mets. First of all Josh, congratulations on a terrific season in 2011! Although it started out as a struggle, you worked your tail off, overcame adversity, and were rewarded for your efforts with a promotion to the Major Leagues. To be called up to make your debut in the ‘Show’ must have been an unbelievable thrill! Thank you so much for sharing a little of your time. The readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com will really enjoy getting to know a little bit about one of our newest Mets! When the Mets drafted you out of Northwood High School, in Shreveport, LA, in the 37th round of the 2006 MLB Player Draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? What round were you thinking you might be taken in? Were you planning on going to college, or did the Mets change your mind and convince you to sign?
Josh: Well originally the Mets told me I would be drafted on the first day around the 4th-7th round. After the first day had passed and I wasn’t drafted, I had personally made up my mind that I was going to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA to get a nursing degree. I found out I was drafted while I was sitting at my house and my parents just happened to look at the draft. I originally thought I was going to college because I didn’t think the Mets were going to be able to give me enough money, and also pay for my college. But they came back and offered me the 4th-7th slot money that they promised me, and paid for my college so it made my decision a lot easier.
Petey: Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of becoming a major league baseball player?
Josh: There are actually two people who have inspired me to reach for my dreams. First, there is my father Randy, who from the age of 3 to even now, has been my coach. He taught me everything I know about baseball. How to play the game, the fundamentals, sportsmanship, and playing at 110% all the time. Then there is my mother, Connie. She was the one at home giving me the encouragement, making sure that I made good grades in school, cooking meals, and providing me with anything that I needed for baseball.
Petey: Tell us a little bit about your arsenal. What pitches you throw, at what speeds, and are you working on any new pitches moving forward?
Josh: I throw a 4-seam fastball, a sinker, a change-up, a curveball, and a slider. I am not working on any new pitches at this time, just trying to fine tune my pitches. I am also working being able to locate all my pitches to anywhere on the plate, and any time.
Petey: Quite a bit of happened for you during the 2011 season, some good, some not-so-good, and some great. When you arrived at AAA Buffalo for the start of the season, you earned a spot in the starting rotation, but got off to an uneven start, and you struggled to the tune of a 3-7 record with a 7.44 ERA, your walks were up, and strikeouts were down. On June 22nd the Mets sent you down to AA Binghamton, to work on your command, and you pitched out of the Bingo bullpen. Sometime over the next month, you made some adjustments and started throwing the ball really well. The rest of the season in AA you went 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA and your walks were down and strikeouts were up. What happened? What did you start to do differently that resulted in turning your season around?
Josh: This year was a very up and down year for me. I originally started the year in Binghamton because all the late moves in camp moved me down. After two starts, they sent me up to Buffalo. I think the biggest thing that effected me there was the pure fact the I wasn’t being aggressive. I wasn’t pitching with the attitude of “I am better than you and I am going to beat you, this is my job, and you aren’t going to take it.” When I was sent back to Binghamton to be in the bullpen, I found that attitude again. I believe it was mostly because of the adrenaline that you get when you are warming up in the bullpen and then running on the field. Being a reliever is a lot more fast paced. You have to warm up quickly, go in and execute pitches in tight situations, keep your nerves. At this time in my career, I would have to say I prefer relieving over starting.
Petey: By the end of the Eastern League season, you were throwing the ball so well that the Mets called you up to the big leagues for the first time on September 1st, when the rosters expanded. When you got that call to the big leagues, it must have been an unbelievable thrill! What was it like? How did they inform you that you were headed for the “big stage?” What was your first thought at the time? Did any one player, or players, go out of their way to welcome you to the Mets?
Josh: Getting called up was one of the best experiences in my life. We were in Erie and it was raining all day so we didnt have to get to the field till 4 pm. When we were on the way to the field my pitching coach called me and told me when I got to the field I needed to come to the office. So right away I thought man that is weird, I’ve been throwing the ball well and hadn’t been doing anything I wasn’t supposed to do. When I walked in the office, my manager Wally Backman, told me I was being called up, and to go up there and show them what I’m about. My first thought was that I had achieved my goal of making it, and now the new goal is staying there. All of the guys in the (Mets) clubhouse were very welcoming. It was a very easy transition because I was around a lot of the guys in spring training.
Petey: You got 13 innings in for the Mets in September over 14 games, going 0-2 with a 6.92 ERA, and picked up your first big league save. You pitched quite well, much better than the numbers indicate, as you gave up nine out of your ten earned runs in just three of those 14 games. You were so impressive, in fact, that Sandy Alderson recently expressed confidence in you, and feels you are a viable bullpen option for the Mets heading into next season. How did your big league experience prepare you, and motivate you for the coming year? What do you need to work on to maximize your opportunity to make the big league club coming out of ST in 2012?
Josh: I believe my experience in September helped me realize I have to execute my pitches everyday. I have to keep that attitude of “I’m better than you,” even when I’m facing the best in the world. Being there in September also helped me realize I can pitch at this level. This year I am going to work on going after the hitter a little bit more aggressively, trying to lower my walks, and like I said earlier being able to locate my pitches on both sides on the plate.
Petey: Was there any one hitter you have faced so far in the majors, where you said to yourself, “Oh-my-gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to pitch to this guy!” What happened in the at-bat?
Josh: The one guy that I faced where I was kind of star struck would have to be Albert Pujols. He is one of the best in the game. In that at bat I was ahead of him 1-2, and threw a couple of pitches trying to get him to chase. We went to 3-2 and I threw a good slider, he hit it directly in the ground in front of the plate and it bounced probably 40 feet in the air and went over Wright’s head into left field for a single. It was probably one of the weirdest hits I gave up because most of the time if someone hits the ball into the ground like that it would be a slow roller to 3B but this time it hit something in front of the plate and went into left field.
Petey: Yeah, Albert’s pretty good. Let the American League deal with him for a while. What kind of things do you do to stay in shape over the winter, Josh? Can you describe your workout regimen? Did you play any winter ball?
Josh: I did not play winter ball this year because I had a lot of innings for a reliever, because of starting earlier in the year. As far as staying in shape, I am working out 5 to 6 times a week. I do upper body and shoulder routine twice a week, and I do lower body twice a week. I do some type of cardio everyday whether it be biking, long distance running, or sprints. I also started throwing the first week of January to get my arm in shape for spring.
Petey: What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Is there someone at the big league level, past or current, that you think you are similar to you in style, and the type of stuff you throw?
Josh: My favorite team growing up was the Texas Rangers because of growing up in Shreveport, LA. That was the closest team to us. I’m not sure who I would compare to. I just try to go out there and be the best I can be.
Petey: Fair enough. To finish up Josh, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Petey: Thanks again Josh for being so kind as to participate in this interview! Our readers at MMO will really enjoy it! Enjoy the rest of your time off, and we’re looking forward to seeing you on the “bump” at Citi next year!
It sounds as if Josh’s big league experience in September was a very useful confidence builder, and that he is wisely using it as a measuring stick moving forward. His eye-opening performance with the Mets, puts him squarely in the bullpen mix for CitiField next year, and it will be very interesting to watch his continued development.
Here’s an interesting interview by Statsgirl14 with Josh shortly after he was called up to the bigs:
For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.