April 29, 2008
With less than a month remaining in the regular season, sophomore Matt Fairel hopes to guide the Seminole baseball team back to Omaha for the first time since the 2000 season. Fairel has been a solid force in the Florida State rotation posting an 8-1 record with a 2.81 ERA in his first season as a starter. Fairel recently sat down with seminoles.com to discuess his move from the bullpen to the starting rotation as well as some of the things he worked on during the offseason to prepare for this year.
By Chuck Walsh
Florida State Sports Information
1) When you were growing up as a child, did you want to be a baseball pitcher? If not, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“When I was growing up, I did not necessarily want to be a pitcher, but I always wanted to be a baseball player. Throughout my career I have worked hard to do well in school so I could continue to play baseball. I never really thought of having a career other than as a baseball player.”
2) What’s the biggest difference between being a starter and a reliever?
“There are many differences but the biggest one is that as a reliever you have to ready to go everyday. As a starter you only pitch once a week so you have that time during the week to prepare. There is also a different mental approach in being a starter and being a reliever. As a starter, I try to stay busy when I’m not playing. On the day that I am scheduled to pitch I try not to think about pitching at all. I like going out to eat with my friends and maybe play Nintendo instead of waiting around the house waiting to pitch.”
3) Did you approach this season differently knowing you would be in the starting rotation?
“I did approach this season differently because I knew I was in the starting rotation. I knew I was already in the rotation so I came in ready to work and not trying to over throw and worked on hitting my locations, worked on my change-up. I think I paced myself more entering this season than I did any other season.”
4) Is there a different level of conditioning that you must keep up with as a starter as opposed to being a relief pitcher?
“As a starter, you only have to work one day a week so you have the extra time to run. Being a relief pitcher you can’t run that much because you have to throw everyday. It’s a lot easier to stay in shape as a starter because you have to work everyday.”
5) If you had to choose one of the following, which one would it be: to throw harder or have the ability to hit your spots on every pitch?
“I would like to throw harder because I like fastballs. I would like to throw harder because you can always work to hit your spots but you can’t always get the speed you want.”
6) Is there anything (besides the essentials) that you have to take to the mound with you when you pitch?
“I go out there by myself and kick the rosin bag around making sure it’s not in the same place every inning. But, no, I don’t take anything else out there besides myself and my team.”
7) What is the strangest thing that has ever been yelled at you while you are pitching in a game? Where was it yelled?
“Last year at N.C. State a fan started having an entire conversation with me and answering the questions like I was sitting right next to him. He had this whole conversation about me at the pool. I didn’t know the guy was talking to me until the end of the game. It was the first time I had pitched in a real road game and the guy just kept going on and on. We won the game.”
8) What is the best atmosphere (besides Howser Stadium) to play in for a college baseball player? What makes that stadium so unique?
“The best atmosphere (besides playing at home in Howser) was in Jacksonville last year against the Gators. It was the best road game besides playing at home. It was a 50-50 (Seminole fans to Gator fans) crowd and it is the biggest crowd I have ever thrown in front of. It was also the first big game I had pitched in my Florida State career so it was very special.”
9) If you were not a pitcher, what position would you play? Why?
“If I were not a pitcher, I would be playing right field because I can throw and I like to hit. I have passion for hitting. I still miss hitting a lot. I played right field my whole life growing up. I’ve thrown my whole life but you can only pitch once a week. Once I came here I tried to do both but it didn’t work out. I had hit all the way through high school and hit in the summer sometimes. Pitchers batting practice are the best days of the year.”
10) How often do you take batting practice? How good a hitter are you?
“As pitchers we have taken batting practice only once or twice this year. It’s still fun to go to the batting cages to mess around.”
11) What is your ultimate in-game baseball fantasy?
“I dream about getting the last out in Omaha at the College World Series and becoming the first Florida State team to win out there.”
12) Is there a pitch that you would like to learn how to throw and why would you want to throw that pitch?
“I would like to throw my change up better. The key to throwing a good change up is being able to throw when you want to throw it. It’s equalizing. You have to have confidence and have trust in your throw.”
13) You pitched a no-hitter in high school? How difficult is it to get through a game without giving up a hit?
“Throwing a no-hitter is a pretty good feeling. You just can’t think about it. It’s bad if you loose it late. Throwing a no-hitter takes more energy out of you because you have to worry about every pitch. You try to be a little cute or more perfect than you would usually be. You have to put more emphasis on every batter. You don’t really think about giving up a hit going through the game. It’s very honoring to throw a no-hitter.”
14) Did you collect baseball cards when you were growing up? If yes, who was the favorite card you might still have?
“I did collect baseball cards until I was 12. My most favorite card is a Chipper Jones rookie card. I got it out of the pack my self and I still have it. It’s still somewhere in my bedroom at home. I was a Chipper Jones growing up and still am a Braves fan.”
15) What is the significance to you wearing uniform No. 32? How long have you worn that number?
“I wear No. 32 because it fits. When I was growing up I always wore number 10 or 14. When I was growing up I wore No. 10 for Chipper Jones. I wore No. 14 in high school and No. 10 when I got to Florida State. This year, it was open and No. 32 was the largest jersey they had so I got it.”
16) What hobbies do you have? Why do you like those activities?
“I like fish to and I love to play golf. When I am back home I play golf a lot – probably two or three times a week. But when I am here I play only once or twice a month. It’s hard when I have school and baseball. When you play golf you are competing against yourself. The other guys are there playing their own game and they can’t do anything to stop you. It is you playing yourself to see how good you can be. It helps you as a pitcher because you have to be good on every pitch in baseball and you have to be good on every swing in golf. They count the same no matter what.”
17) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
“I want to go to Yankee Stadium this year. I want to go to the old Yankee Stadium before they tear it down. I went to Fenway earlier in the year. There are other places I would like to go but they are going to be there for the moment. There is a lot of history and they’re about to tear it down.”
18) If you could bring only one cd/have one cd on your IPOD on the next road trip which one would it be? Why?
“I just hit shuffle the songs on my Ipod and it goes. The cd that comes up would probably be a country cd so it could put me to sleep.”