Inside Pitch Live with closer Matt Capps
Matt Capps has been everything and more for the Nationals this season. He has provided stability at the back end of the bullpen and when he enters the game, you can put a Curly “W” in the books. He is 13-for-13 in save opportunities and sports a 0.98 ERA with 17 strikeouts. He was named the Delivery Man of the Month for April. He spent 20 minutes on Saturday in the PNC Diamond Club fielding questions from MASN Commentator Rob Dibble as well as fans for the second installment of Inside Pitch Live.
How are you enjoying your stay in Washington?
“I’m enjoying it. We’re still trying to get used to the city. It’s a little bigger city than what I’m used to, coming over from Pittsburgh and then I grew up in a small town. It’s a big city but I’m enjoying it.”
It’s Pups in the Park today and you have a few dogs right?
“I have three golden retrievers. Two of ours are English Cream so they’re as white as my pants. But they’re awesome dogs. I love them.”
How much fun is it to be on a team that is winning?
“It’s been a lot of fun. And the most exciting part about it is I don’t feel like we’re playing good baseball yet. We were a couple of games over .500 a couple of days ago. And the exciting part about that is we’ve played how many games without Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup? And Adam Dunn is not hitting like we know Adam Dunn can hit. And our starting pitching hasn’t really stabilized itself yet. We’ve had some good performances, but as far as consistency with the guys we have and what they’re capable of, I don’t feel like we’ve hit our stride yet.”
Have you had the chance to see fans outside of the ballpark?
“My wife’s family was in town last homestand. We went out to dinner. Don’t tell the guys downstairs but we walked into an ice cream shop. Got some ice cream and I had some people recognize me… a lady recognized me, and I ended up talking to her and her family, what have you and just had a good conversation. They’re excited to have the team back in Washington. They’ve been following the team. From what everybody seems to be saying, everybody’s excited. You can kind of see the writing on the wall of what the Washington Nationals can do, with the guys who are coming and the guys who are here. Like I said, we hit our stride and start playing the way I think everybody here’s capable of playing and this could be a fun place to be.”
What’s it like throwing to Pudge?
“It’s pretty cool. I called my high school coach after the first bullpen [session] I threw in Spring Training just to tell him. This was my fifth Spring Training and I think that was the most nervous I’ve been all year was that first day when I got up on the mound… I look up and there’s Pudge Rodriguez standing there with a mitt. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was like, ‘Oh, man…’”
How nice is he as a teammate?
“He has confidence in you. When he comes out to the mound, I can tell by the way he talks to me, he knows we’re going to get the job done. But the most impressive part about him, there’s a reason why he’s played so long. The guy’s in phenomenal shape and the work ethic that he has, you kind of look at him when you walk into the clubhouse or the weight room, and you see a guy working like that, you think, ‘this guy’s been catching for 20 years in the Big Leagues and he’s working like that?’ He’s, what, 38 years old? I’m 26 years old. There’s no reason for me not to work harder than this guy. So he kind of pushes you in what he does away from the field, and the confidence he has in himself, and the confidence that he shows us, as pitchers–it’s a lot of fun to work with.”
You are the papa bear in the bullpen, how did that start?
“It actually started in Pittsburgh my rookie year. I got called up in 2005. ’05 was a fun year for me. I went to low Single-A ball to the Big Leagues in one year. So when I got to the Big Leagues, I was kind of overwhelmed. I’d never been to a Spring Training. I didn’t know many people on the team. One of the few guys I did know was Sean Burnett. He was on the DL at that point in time, in September of ’05. Part of his duties being on the DL, he wanted to come sit in the bullpen, well anytime somebody warmed up he had to bring them two cups of water. That just kind of carried over. My next year, Burnett wasn’t on the DL. He was done rehabbing. Me being the rookie, that was my job and it’s just something that’s kind of carried over. I know when I’m warming up, a lot of times I don’t want to leave the mound and go to the water cooler, so I kind of felt like if I did it for them, maybe they’d do it for me. So a little bit of selfishness in there. I’m not that nice of a guy (laughing).”
How are guys in the bullpen getting ready for Stephen Strasburg?
“We got a chance to see the guy in Spring Training. He is a phenomenal talent. Anytime somebody can throw 98, 99 miles an hour with a hammer of a curveball and a great changeup and a good feel for everything, you’re a little bit jealous .But we’re excited for him to get up here. I think he’s going to be an impact player from day one. There are a couple of other guys that get overlooked because of all the attention on Strasburg. But the most impressive part about him is the person he is. He’s in the weight room, he’s out running, he’s doing things in between starts. It’s not something you see every day. It’s kind of refreshing. Like I was talking about with Pudge, there’s a reason why he’s so successful. There’s a reason Stephen Strasburg is Stephen Strasburg. He works hard day-in, day-out. And he’s got the physical tools to go along with it. We’re very excited about him getting up here and kind of hoping that when he does get up here we can go to a more traditional seven-man bullpen.”
How do you turn it on when you enter the game? Do you have a trick?
“No, I don’t. If anyone has any advice, please let me know. I try to be the same guy every day, no matter what happened the night before. If you walked into the clubhouse this morning, I don’t want you to see any difference in me whether I had a six out save and struck out six guys or if I blew a three run save the night before. I want to be the same guy every day. I try to do that with my routine.”