Kyle Gibson: 'Hopefully I can live up to (fans') expectations'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Thursday afternoon marked the first time that Minneapolis media got a look at Minnesota Twins starter Kyle Gibson in his home digs, as the lanky righty joined the active roster on the off day preceding a two-game series in Miami.
Gibson was appreciative that the Twins let him get his feet wet with the club nearly a week in advance of his major league debut, as it not only allowed him to get his personal items in order, but also allowed some of his extended family to get time off to make it to Saturday's game.
Here is the transcript of Gibson's media session:
On getting the call well in advance of his first start... "I'm definitely thankful that I got up here in Miami. I was able to spend a couple days (with his teammates), play a little catch, get used to the team, and feel the atmosphere of a big league stadium. I think as the days get closer, I'm going to get a bit more nervous. It's been nice to have enough time to get family a bit more time to get up here, and to get them a couple days in advance."
On just going out and 'pitching his game' on Saturday... "Yeah, I've heard that a lot. It's the same game, just go out there and be me. Go out there and trust my stuff. It'll be fun, but you always think coming up from Triple-A that the game changes quite a bit, and it does. The players are better and faster. Everybody says be you and go out there and throw your game, and I guess that's what I'm going to try do."
On if he's worried about the hype surrounding him as a former first-rounder... "I don't really think so. Having four years in the system -- they've had a lot of first round picks after me -- those guys have a lot more hype than me anyway."
On what it means to finally be in Minneapolis... "I mean it's a dream come true; there's no doubt about that. I've worked hard for four years, and especially over the last 18 months coming back from Tommy John to be here. Obviously I realize that I haven't made it, and that the work just starts now, but actually getting here is a big hurdle."
On how he feels his arm has rebounded from surgery... "I think strength-wise it's better. I think over the last couple months I've finally gotten the control back that I had before surgery and when I was in college. I kind of feel like my stuff is getting back to where it was then."
On if he was worried about having Tommy John surgery... "I think really I was more relieved, because I spent four weeks thinking I had a muscle strain. To find out that there was something structurally wrong, and that it could be fixed, I think was a huge relief."
On if Saturday will be a culmination of his efforts to become a big leaguer... "I don't know that there's that feeling just quite yet. I'd really like to get established and feel that. It'd be a little bit naive of me to think that I've done it, and gotten here, and reached the pinnacle without throwing a game. We'll see how Saturday goes, and hopefully the rest of the year. (I'm) just going to try work hard and stay here the rest of the year."
On what the Twins' long-term plans are for him... "I haven't heard anything. They just said I'm throwing on Saturday, and that's really about it. Hopefully I throw well enough to get another chance five days after that."
On what he expects to be different from Triple-A to the major leagues... "I really have no idea honestly. I'm just going to try get a plan here with (pitching coach Rick) Anderson, and Mauer or Doumit or whoever catches. I'll watch these next couple games with P.J. (Walters) and Sammy (Deduno) and hopefully get a good scouting report, and just try to execute pitches. Ultimately that's what it's going to come down to. If I'm out there executing, hopefully I'll do well. If I don't execute, I'm probably going to have trouble."
On what it means to hear how much Twins fans wanted to see him promoted... "It's definitely an honor and pretty cool to know that. Hopefully I can live up to their expectations and go out and throw well and give the team a chance to win. That's really my job when I go out there."
On how he'll know he's finally comfortable on the mound... "I think after I throw the first couple two-seamers I should know. When I'm overthrowing and I'm cutting it, then I'm not keeping it in the zone. That's one thing I've been working on down in Rochester is not overthrowing, and staying closed and not flying open. So if I'm able to keep my emotions in check, and not feel too pumped up, hopefully I can throw a couple two-seamers on the glove side of the plate and get them to run back over and get that feeling."
On keeping his emotions in check... "I wouldn't say that I have trouble keeping them in check. I think any time you take the mound, whether it's a quality Division I opponent in college, or the Futures Game, or anything that's a big stage, you always have make sure to take a couple deep breaths, make sure you stay up on yourself, and once you get the first couple pitches out of the way...that's why I think strike one right down the middle is going to be important on Saturday."
On when he first thought a big league career was possible... "I don't know, I'm not really sure when I started thinking it was realistic. But I've always dreamed of doing it. It's been one of those things I've always wanted to do. My dad played baseball and coached baseball, and ever since I was a kid this is what I was working for."
On how he feels he pitched in Rochester this season... "I feel like there were times I was throwing well, and times I wasn't throwing well. Whether I got away with it, or I didn't get away with it, there was clearly plenty of times I didn't get away with throwing balls down the middle and missing spots. I got hurt. For the most part, when I was executing and following the scouting report like we talked about down there. Whenever I executed that, I definitely liked my chances going into a game. I think most of it hinged upon my fastball command. If I had my fastball going, and they were hitting groundballs and not squaring it up, then I feel like I was throwing pretty well. But there were times I was leaving it up, or it was flattening out and those were the games I got hurt."
On if he was 'consistent' in Rochester... "I think it's always a constant battle honestly. Maybe in the last 10 games I could probably say I found that, but I think being consistent and constant consistency at the major league level is going to be a different thing. I'm going to have to make sure I'm always attacking the zone and always getting ahead of hitters, because for the most part whenever I struggle it's because I'm getting behind and I'm having to throw balls over the middle of the plate rather than staying on the halves."
On if the Twins discussed Gibson's handling of his promotion with him... "No they really didn't. I just got told on Sunday night that I was heading up on the off day. I was pretty excited, and thankful honestly because the last couple days have been really good to get acclimated and not having to rush around getting your gear ready and like I said making sure family can get up here and organized and everything."
On his preparation for Saturday's start... "I threw (a bullpen) today and one on Tuesday. Today's went well. It was good. I was going to throw one long one on Wednesday, and Andy said it would probably be a good idea to go out there on Thursday and throw a shorter one as well so that I could get used to the mound so that Saturday wouldn't be the first time touching it."
On Target Field... "Yeah, thankfully it's not the first big league stadium I've played in. Whether it was in college or the Futures Game. I mean it's cool to be able to walk out there and look around and suck it all in, and imagine how it's going to be when a lot of people are there. But I'm sure on Saturday it's going to be a little different feeling, being out in the middle of the diamond."
On his mental preparation for Saturday... "For me it's going to be important to get the first guy. And after that get the next guy, and hopefully finish up the first inning clean. Just try to focus on each pitch, really. If I have the seventh, eighth, or ninth inning in mind when I take the mound, it's probably not going to be good for me because I'm going to let things speed up."
On staying in Minneapolis for the long haul... "Oh yeah, I think that's everybody's goal when they come up here. I'm just going to work as hard as I can and try to be the pitcher the Twins had in mind for me to be. I honestly don't think it's necessary for me to try and be a No. 1 starter or anything. I think they brought me up here to be a fourth or fifth starter, and throw six, seven, eight innings every time out and try give them quality starts every time out."
On how many family members he's expecting in attendance Saturday... "You know what, I don't think there's a number I can put on it, because I think there's people coming up that haven't even told me and I'm not leaving tickets for. I think on the pass list there'll probably be 25-30, and another 15 outside that which I know of. It'd be a pretty good group. I wouldn't say it's calming, but it's encouraging. It's pretty cool to have five days in advance to give everybody time to get work off to get up here and so they had the chance to do it. It's going to be pretty fun."
On his big league experience so far... "I think i've been able to watch a couple games from the dugout, which i've never done before obviously. Tonight to get to see Sammy and PJ throw tomorrow against the team I'm going to face is definitely going to help. I learned a lot from PJ down in Rochester when he was down there because we were normally throwing back-to back days. Being similar pitchers with similar stuff, being able to watch how he attacked hitters is definitely going to help."
On his familiarity level with his current teammates... "Spring training 2011 and 2013, that's about it. They're a good group of guys. They're really welcoming. Everybody made sure to come up and say hello and congratulated me. It was pretty cool."
On having Joe Mauer catching him... "Never hurts, that's for sure."