Back with the Wilmington Blue Rocks to start the 2017 season, lefty Foster Griffin is looking forward to it. You can catch him in action tomorrow night (weather permitting), as he gets the Opening Day nod.
“It’s a huge honor. They told me with a few days left in spring training,” Griffin said when asked about getting the Opening Day start. “It’s a huge honor to start out the rotation.”
Does he think returning makes things easier in that he is used to the environment and knows what to expect from the league?
“Yeah, a little bit. My first full season, I went to Lexington and I started back in Lexington last year and starting back there after a year under my belt was a huge advantage. So I’m looking for that again this year and I think it will be, knowing certain team’s approaches will definitely help. But having that year of experience under your belt is definitely an advantage.”
“Going from Low-A to High-A, I gave hitters too much credit,” Griffin said in terms of what he learned from his time in Wilmington last season. “It’s not that big of a difference that I made it out to be. They’re still getting themselves out in BP. I gave hitters too much credit and I pitched a little scared. So I’m looking to change that and pitch more aggressively and try to pitch deeper into games.”
Known as a control pitcher, Griffin struggled with his command (43 walks) and he allowed a ton of hits (130 hits in 95.1 innings) in his 20 starts in 2016 with the Blue Rocks.
Was that part of giving hitters too much credit? “No doubt,” Griffin said. “That was so much a part of it. Pitching scared, trying to hit the corners too much, just trying to be fancy with it. Just getting ahead and getting that advantage of strike one, strike two and getting them into defense-mode where I can still be in attack-mode is huge.”
Manager Jamie Quirk mentioned in the media day press conference that Griffin seemed like a whole different pitcher in spring training than what he showed last season. “We made a couple mechanical changes. I am getting more in line, which was the big one. I was stepping a lot across my body and that was causing me to get my arm slot out of place, so getting more in line was key. Also, just a mental approach to it. It was something I really worked on this offseason and continued to work on throughout spring training and the season. They say mental is the biggest part of the game and once you get that figured out, it helps a lot.”
Griffin was a first round pick in 2014 (and teammate Scott Blewett was a second round pick that same year). Has he felt any pressure to live up to the hype? “A little bit of added pressure. There shouldn’t be, but I kind of put it upon myself, but I kinda like it. The added pressure makes you go out and focus a little more and pitch a little better.”
“Trying to help this team win” is something Griffin wants to do in 2017. “Trying to get through five, six, seven innings to give them a good chance to win and get it to the bullpen and have them close it out. Instead of only getting to three, four innings and have the bullpen try and give five, six, seven innings in a game would be the best part.”
What is the one thing Griffin is looking forward to with this team in 2017? “This new group of guys is going to be a lot of fun. We’ve got a really good clubhouse. The guys are already real meshed together and that keeps going. It’s just a bunch of fun and we haven’t even started yet. I’m looking forward to see what it’s like when we start winning some games.”
The Blue Rocks 25th season begins tomorrow night at Frawley Stadium against Potomac.
*If you would like to watch the Griffin video, click below: