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A pregame interview with Joe Blanton

A pregame interview with Joe Blanton

Prior to this year's playoffs, what was the biggest game you pitched in? And can you draw on that experience in any way for tomorrow night?

JOE BLANTON: I threw in a playoff game in '06 but it was in relief against Detroit in the ALCS. But I think other than that it would probably be, as far as that goes, it would be this year, Opening Day in Japan with the A's. That's pretty big. A lot of people, a lot of media, being an overseas deal and just a different event rather than a regular season game.

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Obviously the Phillies have voluminous scouting reports on Tampa Bay, but you've got a lot of experience against Tampa Bay from your time in the American League. How do you weigh your experience versus the new information you're getting now in forming your plan to pitch against them?
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JOE BLANTON: Well, I think scouting reports can be helpful, but I have the feeling that you do how you do against a person, not necessarily a scouting report can help you. So I think personal experience can help a little bit. Obviously players change from even early in the year or past years, whatever it may be. So I feel like you take a little bit of both.

You definitely remember from personal experience maybe what a guy had success off of, and also the scouting lately, as well.

Could you talk about how the two starts you've had in the postseason has helped your confidence?

JOE BLANTON: Well, anytime you put a couple of starts together where you have success, it definitely builds your confidence. It's almost like building blocks for confidence. You get one good start under your belt, you feel good about it. You have another decent one, you feel a little better, and you get a little more comfortable as you go along and you do definitely start to feel confident and more comfortable on the mound.

With the way the postseason kind of throws you off your normal routine, you'd be in every fifth day in the regular season. What have you done to keep sharp and stay effective when you've had so much time off between starts?

JOE BLANTON: Well, mentally you just kind of relax on those days off. And then me not throwing the first game, kind of throwing in the fourth game I have three games to get under my belt mentally, go out and watch the games. But physically it's just try to keep it as much routine as possible. I've thrown a lot of bullpens, I threw a simulated game just one day just to have hitters in there, and that feel of a batter standing in and throwing different pitches to him.

But just trying to keep that routine of just throwing a lot of bullpens, just keeping your body in shape and your mechanics in sync as best you can.

You just mentioned that game in Japan that you pitched. What was your experience like in that game? And do you think or how will it affect or help you tomorrow?

JOE BLANTON: I think it helped just because just from the way I was thinking about the game. It was the first game of the year, by a week, I think. So I was the first one going out, so I was throwing the first pitch of the entire season. For me that was kind of a big deal. They had a lot of media over there. It was a big experience. It was a great experience. There was a lot of things you had to deal with, as well. We had to travel, I forget how many hours it was, in an airplane and then go over there and it was just a lot of different things going on, kind of similar to this.

What have you noticed about the Rays hitters from your previous experience facing them this year?

JOE BLANTON: They're good hitters, they've got a great lineup. I've always thought of them as athletic hitters. They can really beat you with their legs. And this postseason they've shown a lot of power, as well. They really have a lot of different ways to beat you, which makes it tough. From what I've seen this year, they're top to bottom good. There's no breaks and that's one of the reasons they're here. You usually don't get here unless you're pretty strong throughout your whole lineup.

How would you characterize your year before the trade here? And has the trade energized you?

JOE BLANTON: It's been a rough year, personally, just the ups and downs, for whatever reason. Over there it was almost like I couldn't catch a break the first half of the year. And sometimes that's the way things go. I kind of let myself get in a rut, which was an experience I'll take, and hopefully I'll learn from and not let it happen again.

And then the trade happens, it almost is like a, I guess, a new breath, because I was going to a new league, new team. It was almost like getting to start over. So it almost made me think, all right, I can start over here, a team competing for the playoffs and try to put some good starts together, and help out any way I can to hopefully get to the playoffs.

Again, getting back to the Japan thing, I haven't checked the roster, you may be the only guy still playing who was in that series. Seems like a long time ago. When the Red Sox season ended, a couple of guys said it felt like a long season for them. Do you physically, mentally, does it feel like it has been a long season?

JOE BLANTON: When did we start? Like March 22nd or something like that was our Opening Day. So it was a little bit earlier than everybody else, plus all the travel. And it does make it feel long, but like I just said, the trade kind of makes it feel long and short in kind of a weird way, because when you're traded, it almost makes everything move quick and you're trying to learn a new city, new players and everything. So before you know it, it was like the second half is over. And like I say, it was almost like starting the season over. So I'm sure if I had been in the same city the whole time it would have seemed a little longer. But coming over here with the trade it probably, like I said, it gave it a little fresh breath or something like that, to where it doesn't seem so long.

What's your first memory of watching or following the World Series? And how does it feel to be in this position tomorrow night?

JOE BLANTON: Oh, my first memory? I don't know if I can remember one exact moment. From what I can remember just the whole playoff experience when I was younger, not necessarily the World Series. Being a kid, staying up late, getting to watch it. And just the excitement in the games. It brings a new intensity. Baseball can be a long season with 162 games, but once you get here, it's like those 162 don't matter anymore; everybody starts over. And it's definitely a fight to the last pitch every game. Like I said, full of intensity the whole time.

You've got several sacrifice bunts since you came over here. How comfortable do you now feel with the bat, especially, bunting?

JOE BLANTON: I don't know if I'd say comfortable, I hadn't hit in like nine years, I don't believe. And coming from the American League you don't ever pick up a bat, it wasn't like I got Spring Training to practice, I got thrown in the middle of the season, just had to go. But I put in a lot of work with Jimy Williams. He's been a lot of help and he's always there coaching, trying to help me along as best I can.

It's definitely small strides. Bunting right now I just feel like I focused on it quite a bit. It takes a lot of concentration. If you're not going to hit you kind of being a pitcher, it's not like necessarily your job to go out and hit .300, but you can do little things to help yourself, getting down sac bunts and getting the runner over. I've seen a few times this year where guys have got down a bunt to move the runner to second with two outs, and then a big hit happens. So you can do little things like that to get yourself a run here and there.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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