When I visited the Tennessee Smokies, Corey Black and Billy McKinney were nice enough to lend some of their time for an interview. This was before Black had gotten news that he’d be headed to the bullpen, which makes his thoughts on starting even more interesting. Black is a very personable player and I wish the best to him in his quest to the majors. You can follow him over on Twitter @CblackCHC
Teddy Eley: Hello Corey, to get right into it, what did you think of Jacob Hannemann’s catch last night?
Corey Black: That was by far one of the best catches I’ve ever seen live. You see these crazy plays happen all of the time on Sportscenter and stuff and to see it live was completely different. That completely changed the game, bases loaded and [the ball’s] hit right down the line, you never expect that to be caught and for him to catch it was unreal. For us to win the game made it even better.
TE: Although you’re a pitcher, what’s the nicest play in the field you’ve made?
CB: Pitching wise I’ve caught a couple come backers that were hit hard right at me, I didn’t start pitching till college though and played shortstop in high school. It just makes you respect the game a lot more when guys make crazy plays like that. A lot of pitchers don’t realize how difficult it is when guys make crazy plays like that, it’s nice to have that behind you.
TE: You were traded from the Yankees a couple years ago, when you got traded was there anything the Cubs staff stressed pitching wise?
CB: No not really, it was more about me getting comfortable again. With the Yankees they were trying to change a couple of things and it just wasn’t feel right, the ball was going everywhere, it was really just getting comfortable again. And after that, this offseason they made me work on getting comfortable with my direction towards the plate and that’s about it, getting in a rhythm because I either go too slow or too fast when I’m in the windup.
TE: Have you implemented any new pitches, tried out any new grips recently?
CB: Not really, it’s been the same pitches since I started pitching in college, it’s just a matter of refining them now.
TE: You’re always a fun twitter follower, and your motto is ‘proving everyone wrong,’ could you elaborate on that a bit?
CB: You know I’ve always had the stigmatism that I’m to small to play, don’t land tall enough, not strong enough, you know that kind of stuff. Playing a position for a long time, I’ve been told my shoulders aren’t high and wide enough to pitch and I’m like ‘what does that even mean?’ Especially being a shorter starter where everyone is like ‘oh he’s a reliever’ yet I’m still here, I’m still starting. I came out of the pen three times in spring training but if that’s what they want me to do then I’ll listen to them. But I’m still starting.
TE: So you’re just going to focus on starting until they tell you otherwise?
CB: Yeah until they tell me ‘hey we’re going to use you in the pen’ I’m just focused on starting and going deep into games. I want to put my team in a good position to win.
TE: As far as this season goes, has there been any big chances you’ve made?
CB: No not really, my big thing is going deep into games now, my most recent start I just came off the DL and threw 57 pitches in 5 innings which was awesome for me. The first few innings are normally difficult for me and it was really awesome and put my nerves in check and using it as a positive. Making sure to stay keel and on the same pace.
TE: And you threw 124 innings last year which is pretty good for someone consistently pegged as a reliever.
CB: Last year there were a couple of starts where I’d go three or four innings and throw 90 pitches, this year it has been a lot better, my first start I threw 85 pitches in five innings. It was okay but at the same time I want to get deeper, I want to throw seven innings every time out, not just five innings. It helps the bullpen out when you go deeper into games like that.
TE: I was down in Myrtle Beach recently and they appeared to have a great bond in the clubhouse, is it similar for you guy?
CB: It was at the beginning of the year but now more and more guys are getting hurt and you’re seeing new faces all of the time, it’s just trying to get in touch with these new guys who are coming out. We’ve got a bunch of new guys from the AZL who are just filling in, my buddy Pierce [Johnson] has been out all year and he should be here pretty soon. We’ve had a really tight group here and it has been really fun to play with. Seeing these new faces we’re just trying to have them tie in with everything that’s going on here. It’s great to see that in Myrtle Beach but say they move up, we need to have them on the same page we’re on here. It has been a really fun group to play with.
TE: Is there any clubhouse clown around?
CB: Yeah me and Giansanti try and take things pretty loose, Giansanti really got into that whole dubs match? thing which was pretty funny. From what I learned from playing in college, if you’re to uptight then you’ll play really bad, that’s really why I became a pitcher, I was struggling so hard, at the plate, defensively, it really got in my head and made me all uptight. You got to play loose cause if you play loose you’re talent is going to take over. You always got to work hard and everything and keeping it loose really helps out a lot.
TE: Thank you very much Corey, good luck in your start tomorrow and the rest of the season.
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