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Ten minutes with Henry Owens: The Greenville Drive lefty opens up about his first pro season

Posted by Craig Forde  July 14, 2012 12:27 AM

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Billy Crowe/Greenville Drive

I was lucky enough to get the call to pinch-hit on the Globeís weekly Minor League Notebook on Friday and we discussed young Henry Owens, his recent injury scare and his subsequent return to the bump.

In all I ended up chatting with Owens for a solid ten minutes on the day after he returned to action and he provided some great responses to my line of questioning, so I thought it would be best to supplement Fridayís notebook with the complete transcript of our conversation.

On Deck: How did it feel to get out there for the first time following the injury?

Henry Owens: The first inning I fell behind the leadoff guy, 3-2. I fell behind the second hitter, 3-1, and fell behind the third hitter, 2-1. They got back-to-back hits and I was probably just a little anxious since I hadnít been on the mound in a few days. So, I came out a little antsy, but after the first inning I calmed down well and I was getting ahead of batters. I think I only went to a three-ball count twice the rest of the game.

OD: I understand that you were hit by a batter ball during BP, could you explain exactly what happened with the injury?

HO: I was hit with a line drive right above my left eye brow. I was behind the net on the bucket, so I thought I was safe. It was a freak accident. It was a line drive that they say went about three inches over the net and it sunk down and just got me because Iím tall. I was bending over to pick up a ball and when I came up it just knocked me right in the head and I went straight down to the ground and had no idea what happened. The trainers thought I was joking. They thought it hit the net and I was faking it. They were like, ďThereís no way that could have hit him.Ē I thought someone threw it. Fortunately, no concussion or concussion-like symptoms. I got a hard head I guess.

OD: Did you require stitches? What was the extent of your injuries?

HO: I was wearing glasses and it hit my glasses and they kind of exploded off of my face. So, I had a couple of cuts on my nose, but no stiches or anything. I had a black eye. Probably an inch or two lower and it would have squared me up in the eye. That wouldnít have been a good situation.

OD: Do you feel alright and are you seeing okay now?

HO: Yeah, everything is perfectly fine. I was fine the next day, just a hematoma on my forehead, a big old bump.

OD: Overall, how are you feeling at this point in the season, your first full in pro-ball?

HO: I feel better starting off the second half, just based on the fact that Iím getting used to the routine in my first pro season. The first half was kind of a learning process. I had to learn how to pitch a little bit. I tell you what, it ainít anything like high school ball. Now Iím limiting my walks and going deeper into games, so I feel better than I did at the start of the year.

OD: What are some of these things that youíve had to learn regarding your routine here on this level?

HO: First and biggest is developing an angle. Thatís what me and Suchy (pitching coach Dick Such) have been working on since the beginning of the year. Iíd get ahead of batters and then Iíd nibble around the strike zone and would try to throw it to the perfect spot, then would be falling behind 3-2 or 2-1 after getting ahead 0-1. That was getting me hit because I would then try to reach back and blow it by them and I donít throw 98-miles-per-hour so Iím not going to really throw it by anybody unless itís elevated. Unfortunately at the start of the season it wasnít elevated enough and Iíd give up late-inning doubles with runners on because I was walking guys, or one home run an outing. Now Iím getting ahead of guys and trying to finish them earlier, even forcing contact, letting them get themselves out and itís been working out for me so far.

OD: What are some of the major changes you have encountered in making the jump to this level?

HO: You can definitely tell throughout the game which hitters are comfortable and not. If Iím charting the first couple of games and pitching the third of a series, I get two games to see which hitters are locked in, which hitters are hot, which hitters are not. There is a lot that goes into it, but Iím just learning that you canít just blow it by guys. Iíve been saying for a couple of weeks that 94-miles-per-hour at the waist isnít as good as 90 at the knees.

OD: Talk about your pitches. Are you working with anything new or refining anything already in your arsenal?

HO: When I was drafted I had a slider, but they completely shelved it because they want me to work on command of my changeup and curveball. So far this year Iíve been able to command by change the best, which is really good when I fall behind a guy 2-1 and theyíre sitting on a fastball then I can drop in a changeup and theyíre either going to take [the pitch] or take a bad swing. My curveball has been a good out pitch also, and I change speeds with it a lot throughout the game.

OD: Any one pitch that you are feeling more comfortable with than you had been coming into the season?

HO: I had confidence with all of my pitches, but in high school I was unable to throw my changeup because all I was doing was speeding up the bat speed of the hitters. So now I am able to showcase my changeup a bit more and itís working out for me this year. Itís been a really good pitch for me.

OD: Have you been given any limits on your innings or restrictions for the season?

HO: Not that I know of. Iím sure itís probably itís somewhere between 100 to 120 innings, but itís not my call, so weíll see what happens. But I feel good right now, my body feels good. Other than getting knocked in the head, everything is going good.

OD: At what point did you realize that you had an opportunity to become a professional ballplayer?

HO: My freshman year was when I was getting letters from colleges. My sophomore year I was getting invitations to scout ball. My junior year was when I was meeting with professional scouts and theyíre coming to my house to talk to me and my parents. So Iíd probably say that junior year I was getting the realization that I had a shot to play professionally right out of high school.

OD: What was your reaction like to be selected so high and by an organization with a rich history like the Red Sox?

HO: It was a surreal feeling to say the least. I had no idea the Red Sox were going to take me. They didnít call me or contact me or anything, they just picked me. So I was there with a bunch of family members at my house, and a bunch of friends, and when they picked me we were all going crazy. We were having a pool party and my buddy threw me into the pool and then everyone started jumping in. Then all my family and friends starting singing ĎSweet Carolineí, so it was pretty cool. It was one of the best moments of my life.

Craig Forde can be reached via email at cforde@globe.com and you can follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway.

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About the author

Craig Forde covers baseball talent as it develops into the next big thing. He has covered high school and college sports for the Boston Globe, and the minor league teams More »

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