Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kameron Loe Interview

This week I did an interview with Rangers pitcher Kameron Loe.

1. Who are the three toughest hitters you’ve faced and why?
Kameron mentioned Justin Morneau, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome because all three have excellent recognition of the strike zone, are very strong, and have long arms that allow them to reach balls out of the strike zone.

2. Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?
- CJ Wilson – they’ve been roommates for three years, are very good friends, have a lot of common interests (like martial arts and video games), and talk baseball a lot.
- Brandon McCarthy – they’re good friends mostly because they have the same sense of humor.
- Nick Masset – Nick is a real good friend. They lived together in spring training and instructional camp. Kameron said that Nick is very kind hearted.

3. Why did you decide not to sign with Philadelphia when they drafted you in 1999 and why did you decide to sign with the Rangers when they drafted you in 2002?
Kameron said that he was drafted by Philadelphia out of high school but really wanted to go to college. He told the scouts that if he wasn’t drafted in the first 2-3 rounds, he would go to college. It was going to take a certain amount of money for him to give up college. Philadelphia drafted him low anyway to see if he was bluffing but Kameron did what he said he would. After three years of college, he knew he was ready. He didn’t care about the money. He just wanted to play baseball.

4. What was the key to your success in 2003, when you went 7-3 with a 1.67 ERA between Clinton and Stockton, after going 4-4 with a 4.47 ERA in rookie ball the year before?
The biggest difference was experience pitching against wood bats. In college, he was taught not to pitch inside because aluminum bats don’t break and hitters can still get power on inside pitches. So he pitched away from hitters in the rookie leagues. After learning that he could pitch inside, he had more success. Also he read ‘The Mental Game of Baseball’, which he says really helped him. He thinks the book helped him get to the big leagues quicker.

5. What was it like to be called up to the Rangers for the first time in September 2004 in the middle of a pennant race?
Kameron said that it was ‘awesome for a number of reasons’. He didn’t expect a call-up. He finished the triple-A season and was sent home. He was in the car with his mom in LA and got a call. The Rangers were playing in Anaheim and they invited him to the field to work out with the team and said they might activate him. Since it was in his home town, he was able to pitch in front of his friends and family.

6. What is the best thing about being a major league ballplayer and why?
‘You get to spend half of the year just focusing on baseball.’

7. What is the biggest adjustment you had to make when you started facing major-league hitting?
Kameron said it was learning to throw off-speed pitches more. In the minors, he could just throw his fastball.

8. What was the recovery process for your injury in 2006 like?
‘Frustrating.’ They didn’t really know what was wrong with his elbow. First they tried to rehab it with no medications. After a month with no improvement, he got a cortisone shot and his arm was better in three days. But he needed to get his arm strength and location back. That took a long time, longer than the healing process.

9. What did you work on last offseason that led to you having such a dominant spring training?
Kameron said that he felt challenged and had to rise to the challenge to win a spot. He had to show that he was the best guy for the job. Also, he was in better condition because his offseason conditioning was more baseball specific. He also thought having more experience made a difference.

10. What did you think when you started the season in the bullpen this year?
He was a little disappointed. But he had been in the bullpen before and decided he’d be the best bullpen guy he could.

11. What do you think is working well for you this season and what are you still working on?
Working well: Fastball, slider, and changeup. He thinks he’s having much better success with his changeup.
Still working on: Pitching inside to lefties and holding runners.

12. What’s it like to room with CJ Wilson?
Kameron said that CJ is a smart guy. They’re good friends and he’s a good roommate. He’s fairly clean and they don’t crowd each other. Also, both are from California so they have that in common.

13. Do you take your pet snake with you on road trips?
No, he just feeds her one rat before a road trip and makes sure her water is full.

14. What is your best pitch and how was it developed?
He thinks his best pitch is his sinking (two-seam) fastball. He learned it at 13 years old when a coach taught it to him. He started pitching at 11 but only threw a four-seam fastball. With the two-seam fastball he started to get a lot of grounders.

15. What do you think your long-term role with the team will be and why? What would you prefer your long-term role to be and why?
He thinks he will be a starter and that’s what he wants to be. His entire career until the majors was as a starter. His body is conditioned to go deep into games and his arm can take it. His cardiovascular system is good and he has enough pitches to be a starter. He said ‘I love to have my own game’.

16. What’s been the best game so far of your professional career andwhy?
Kameron mentioned two games. The first was one of his starts in 2005 against the Twins in Minnesota. He pitched 8 innings, allowed no runs, and got the win. The second was this year against Toronto. He said he really battled in that game, giving up 1 run in 5 and 2/3 inning. He didn’t get the win but kept the team in the game and they won.

17. What was your favorite team growing up?
The Dodgers because he grew up in LA.

18. What are your hobbies?
Martial arts, kick boxing, playing video games, reading, talking to friends, camping, going to the beach, and taking vacations.

I would like to thank Kameron for giving me so much of his time to do this interview. I’ve gotten to talk to Kameron a lot at different Rangers events and games and he is always very friendly and willing to spend time with fans. For this interview Kameron was very nice and talked to me on the phone for half an hour in Oakland while he was taking the train to the game.

Results of last week’s poll:
Question: Who do you should be the MVP of all of baseball out of my league MVPs and runner-ups?
A-Rod – 75%
Prince Fielder – 13%
JJ Hardy – 13%
Jorge Posada – 0%

I’m taking a week off. Come back in two weeks for my next column.


Ken Pittman said...

Great interview, Grant. Great questions and interesting responses. Glad to hear that Kameron Loe did this interview with you - he seems like a pretty classy guy. I hope he and all the Rangers keep improving. Even though I didn't expect the Rangers to be a top team this year, the team being this bad is pretty sad. But oh well - there's still some of the season to do well and the positioning begins for the future. On the bright side, I doubt we'll be trading our prospects this year and still missing the playoffs like we have the last few years.

Grant Schiller said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks. Kameron Loe is a great guy. I want the Rangers to trade for prospects but to not trade really top stars except Teixeira.