Foulke: ‘I feel great’

Red Sox closer Keith Foulke was sharp in his first outing of the spring today, fanning all three Triple-A batters he faced on 13 pitches. What follows are comments he made after the outing:

  • How did it feel?:

    “It felt pretty good. I made some good pitches, you know, trying to get out there and kind of try to impress some people and, you know what, I was happy with the pitches I made. Fastball’s still a little up in the zone but I guess I kept them off balance enough.”

  • When will you pitch next?:

    “Tomorrow. As far as after that I’m really not sure. I’ve talked to Nip about that but definitely tomorrow and several times next week.”

  • How encouraging was your outing?:

    “It makes me feel good. Kind of settles me a little bit, you know, no matter the strikeouts or if they’re ground balls fly balls I felt I made some good pitches for my first time out and as a pitcher that’s all you want to do you want to make good pitches and hope good things happen.”

  • What was your velocity?:

    “I have no idea what my velocity was. I probably got a little more in the tank. It’s kind of one of those things my first game type action. I’m kind of still thinking about a lot of mechanics. I could definitely throttle it up a little bit more but that’ll come as we start getting in the groove a little bit.”

  • More confidence, a little hurdle?:

    “Yeah it makes me feel better, you know. I’ve made some pretty good pitches in my live BP sessions and in the bullpens but until you get in there in a game situation and until I actually get in there tomorrow and next week against the big league clubs we still got some stuff to prove but today was definitely a step in the right direction.”

  • How are your knees?:

    “The knees feel good. The knees are at this point a non-factor now it’s all about getting mechanics. I’ve already been through a couple of different deliveries this spring but now it’s just trying to find out what’s going to work for me.”

  • Will it be 2-3 months to get the full effect of the knee injections?:

    “They definitely talked about that and the way I feel if it continues to get better I mean that’s just money in the bank. I have no doubt in my mind that the way my legs feel right now I can go out and pitch in big league ballgames so if they continue to get better, great.”

  • Anxious to get in big league game?:

    “Yeah. That’s what I love to do. I love to pitch. I mean I’m definitely excited about tomorrow and the days to follow there and I’m really excited about the season starting.”

  • How satisfying is it that Tito said you are his guy, sight unseen?:

    “Tito’s seen me throw. Although this is my first game type situation I’ve thrown a lot of pitches in live BPs and stuff like that so I’ve been making my pitches I’ve been off the mound I guess it makes me feel good but you know … I enjoy making closer money. But I’m here to pitch and I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team and if they want me to be the closer so be it.”

  • On Schilling’s comment (“He was phenomenal”):

    “It’s nice its nice to come in the dugout and see that Curt stayed out and watched that and it’s definitely one of those things I think I have to do I have to prove myself to my teammates. Most of them know that I am a pretty good pitcher and last year was just something in the past. But it’ll be nice when they have that confidence in me again, when I come running out on the mound you can almost put it in the books.”

  • Do you have something to prove to opponents?:

    “I don’t need to prove anything to opponents. Hopefully if I go out and do my job and I’m the pitcher that I’m capable of being I don’t care if they take notice or not. They don’t have to like me, they don’t have to do anything but they do have to face me and respect me.”

  • How does your arm feel?:

    “Arm feels great. Once I kind of get in a little better sync I think my velocity will come up but my arm feels pretty good.”

  • First and third strikeouts were changeups?

    “Were you even watching the game? The first one was a high fastball. There’s an ophthalmologist down the street if you need one.”

  • More on his outing:

    “… I was happy that I threw two good changeups to the first guy. It’s one of those where they’re right on the edge of the strike zone they’re moving down they’re good offspeed and hitters reacted how I want them to react to my changeup. They don’t recognize it ‘til the last second and that’s encouraging to me.”

  • Did Tito tell you you’re the closer?;

    “That’s the first I heard of it but you guys know me, it’s like I don’t need him to come to tell me that you’re the closer Keith and go get ‘em. I don’t give a [expletive] if I pitch in the fifth inning or the ninth inning, I’m still going to go out there and do my job.”

  • Will you look over your shoulder if the first two weeks are bad?:

    “I don’t want people to think the wrong thing but … I have nothing to look over my shoulder about. When this game’s finished with me or I’m finished with this game I’m going to walk away from it but I never look over my shoulder. If there’s someone out there who can do the job better than me, good for the team, go ahead but I’m not going to put that pressure on myself worrying about someone else taking my job. I just got better things to worry about than that.”

  • What did you learn about last year?:

    “I better think of my words carefully here. It’s one of those deals where you learn a lot from yourself after the ’04 season. I learned a lot about myself after the ’05 season. It’s one of those things where you see the highs and lows. One season I was to the top and the very next season I was Public Enemy No. 1. But I learned about myself. It’s one of those deals where I’m going to fight. I fought all winter to get back. I’ll continue to fight for the rest of my career. I want to kick this game out of my life instead of the other way around.”

  • Last time in Texas:

    “Oh, I remember very vividly. Was it Kevin Mench or was it the three guys in front of him that got me in trouble? Whatever. Like I told you guys before, last year was last year. If we never mention it again, that would be fine with me. What I learned about last year is that I can put last year behind me. It’s done. It’s over. It’s not going to have any effect on this year. I’m smart enough and have been around long enough to know it’s not going to do me any good to worry about that.”

  • Stronger mentally this year?:

    “I’m not going to say I’m stronger mentally. I’ve always been very mentally strong. That’s one thing that’s helped me get by going on nine years now with mediocre stuff, being able to go out there and compete and think under pressure and make your pitches.”

  • Better to handle failure?

    “I’ll never be equipped to handle failure. I’ll come in kicking, screaming, throwing stuff, cussing and breaking stuff. I don’t handle failure well at all. The day you handle failure too well is the day you should be sitting on the couch.”

  • Sound like yourself?

    “I feel better. I don’t like to make excuses — I hate to throw that in there — but last year I wasn’t healthy. It’s like you can’t do your job is your hand is broke. It’s like trying to write with your left hand. It’s not easy. It’s just one of those things that stuff’s been accumulating over the last few years and it finally came to a head it finally caught up with me. As unfortunate as the situation is, I think we finally got it fixed. That chapter in the book is written and we’ll go on to the next one.”

  • What percent of that stuff catching up to you is physically/mentally?:

    “Believe it or not, actually I was pretty encouraged after the ’04 season to come back for the ’05 season. So the mental part of it is absolutely zero. What do you do for fun? Imagine playing golf with a bad back. You ever have your back tight where you
    can’t rotate? It’s having a key part. If I don’t have my legs under me, I’m a Tuesday night softball guy. Without being able to bend my knees and drive, I was nothing. I proved that I can’t pitch on arm alone. If my knees are better, hopefully when we talk in seven months or so, I’ll say, ‘See, I told you so.’ ”

  • Opening Day?

    “Oh yeah. I feel great right now. Though I haven’t been in games, I’ve thrown a couple hundred pitches in live BPs and stuff. With another week of refinement, I’m going to be just fine. We’ll find out how the conversation goes tomorrow. That’s the first step.”

  • Is pitching back-to-back games a hurdle? :

    “I’m sure it’s a hurdle. I don’t think it’s very high. I don’t need a ramp. I’ve thrown back to back and my arm actually feels pretty good right now. We’ll see tomorrow.”

  • Cramming:

    “Let’s call it a controlled cram. When I start sweating or if I’m nervous about not having very much time, that’s when you guys can be nervous. But I’m very confident, I’ll probably throw three times next week. I think after that I’ll be just fine.”

  • Will he pitch in Philly next weekend?:

    “We’ll see how that goes. I’ll have to check out the weather forecast.”

    “One tomorrow and three next week. Probably Monday, Wednesday,
    Friday, Monday Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday.”

    “We’re up until tomorrow. After that, we’ll sit down with Nip and Tito and figure it out.”

  • Bullpen mates?:

    “We’ll find out. We got the next seven months to spend together, so I’m sure we’ll get to know each other.”

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