Kyle Lotzkar was one of the Reds first round draft picks in 2007 and is coming off a season where he struck out nearly 30% of the batters he faced before suffering a broken elbow that ended his season. Kyle was kind enough to take the time to talk with me during the offseason. Obviously, RML=Reds Minor Leagues and KL=Kyle Lotzkar.
RML: First thing’s first, hows the elbow feeling and whats the outlook for 2009 as far as the elbow is concerned?
KL: To be honest it is feeling really good. I was fairly lucky to avoid surgery but I was determined to do all I could to steer clear of having it pinned. The game plan for 09 is to be healthier and stronger than 08 and be ready to make a team right out of Spring Training.
RML: Being a young Canadian, what was it like to be away from home for a prolonged period of time in a different country?
KL: Despite what many of people may think the transition from Canada was relativley painless. The differences between the US and Northwestern Canada for the most part are so subtle that its very easy to become accustomed to the American lifestyle.
RML: What is your current pitch repetoire and how do you feel about each of your pitches?
KL: I throw the basic fastball, breaking ball (not really sure if it’s a curve or slider), changeup trio. I am becoming more comfortable throwing to contact with my fastball, because in the past I would try to avoid contact by throwing my breaking ball which would result in too many walks and pitches thrown. I have a good idea of where my breaking ball is going and how to use it effectivley, unfortunatly the breaking ball was the pitch I broke my elbow on and seemingly put a lot of stress on that elbow. However I am confident myself and the reds will find a way to eliminate that stress. Finally the change up is a work in progress, it will may one of my main focus points this offseason but it will definatly be improved for the 09 season.
RML: As a pitcher, what do you feel are your strengths and your weaknesses?
KL: I think my biggest strength is being able to make adjustments but constantly trying better myself as a pitcher both mentally and physically. My weaknesses as a pitcher revolve around the mental aspect of pitching I am still trying to learn how to effectivley slow down the game in my head and focus pitch to pitch. I think so far though, my prevaling weakness is being patient and only trying to control the things that are in my hands.
RML: Working off of that, how do you go after hitters? Do you go more with your strengths or with their weaknesses?
KL: Well as the season went on in Dayton and my stuff became more consistant my game plan in terms of attacking hitters wasn’t necessarily to work off of they’re strengths and weaknesses but work to my strengths (being the hunter not the prey in other words). I think a lot of my success came about because I really simplified things for myself, my plan of attack pretty well consisted of getting ahead, quick, with my fastball and finish hitters off with my breaking ball.
RML: Do you have any goals heading into the 2009 season?
KL: I would say the biggest thing is limiting my pitch count by being aggressive in the zone with my fastball, therefore cutting down on walks and improve the consistancy of my changeup.
RML: Who was the best hitter you saw this year (either on your team or an opponent) and why?
KL: I would say the best hitter I faced in the MWL was Brett Wallace with the Cardinals he had no apparent holes in his swing and drove everything hard. The best pure hitter I have ever played with or seen so far however was the Brewers first rounder this year Brett Lawrie so hopefully the Reds can pick him up somwhere down the road.
RML: Do the Reds have you on any type of offseason plan other than what you are doing for the elbow?
KL: Just resting the elbow at this point there really isn’t much you can do to rehab a broken bone.
RML: What is your routine on days that you are scheduled to pitch?
KL: I like to keep loose well before I step out of the clubhouse so I am constantly doing different things like riding the stationary bike, doing tubing work, going over mechanics in front of the mirror ect. Just stuff to help me get physically and mentally prepared for the game. I will start warming up 30mins before the game at home and about 25mins before on the road. Then I will go through a basic stretch and warmup routine before for 10 mins, throw for around 7 minutes, then go off the mound for about 25-30 pitches.
RML: What is some of the stuff you enjoy doing in your off time?
KL: I like fishing, most outdoor activities, ping pong , watching baseball, UFC and the odd Hockey game, I’m a big movie fan, eating, sleeping, and just relaxing.
I just want to thank Kyle again for agreeing to do this