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Interview with Pitching Prospect Matt Wright

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Many thanks to Braves right-handed pitching prospect Matt Wright for taking the time to talk with me. I caught up with him before the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year Awards ceremony several weeks ago at Turner Field. We spoke in the Braves dugout during batting practice, and instead of going to hang out around the batting cage with the rest of the honorees, Matt stayed behind in the dugout and was happy to be interviewed.

Martin Gandy: Are you happy with the track you are on towards the Major Leagues?

Matt Wright: Yeah, it feels good to have this honor. I went through some injuries the past couple of years and to get back on track right now like I have I'm very pleased with that.

MG: You did have some injuries; you had an arm injury didn't you?

MW: I had a stress fracture in my right humerus in my right arm. I had it at the end of two years ago, and last year it came back, because I didn't give it long enough to heal.

MG: What kind of player are you? What should the fans in Atlanta look for should you make it up here?

MW: To me I'm a guy who's going to go out and compete every game, and give you all I've got. I'm a guy who's never going to quit out there on the mound, no matter the score or the inning or anything - a guy who's going to go out after people, and hopefully give us a chance to win every start.

MG: What hitter has been the hardest to face this year? Does anyone stand out as being particularly tough for you?

MW: I don't know, that's a tough question. To tell you the truth I don't really remember anybody that every time they come up I said "I really don't want to fact this guy." There were some hitters in triple-A, some new faces for me. Young, Ernie Young he was a good hitter, an experienced hitter - you had to pitch him good. He got a lot of homeruns in the Minors, I think he's got 300 homeruns in the Minor Leagues, so he was probably one of the most experienced hitters I've ever had to play against.

MG: Talk about some of the guys you've played with. Which of your teammates has impressed you most?

MW: I've grown up playing with Thorman, McCann, Davies, Lerew, all those guys who've played a little bit up here. In 2003 we all played on the same team, and everybody's just done outstanding since then. Every one of those guys, Blaine Boyer was another guys that was on the team, everybody's played and really done well.

MG: You seemed to finish pretty strong this year, are you getting used to the long seasons of pro ball?

MW: Well, I'm used to long seasons. I threw a lot of innings this year, and it starts to wear on you, but it's something that you've got to do because the only way you're going to get better is if you're out there on that mound pitching.

MG: Do you feel that you're all the way back from the injury?

MW: Yeah. I got a little tired just because last year I only threw 40 innings, this year I got like 160. But as far as the injury, I'm back from that. You know I feel great, my arm feels great.

MG: Who was your favorite player growing up?

MW: Nolan Ryan when I was younger, but since I've really got to know baseball, Roger Clemens. Growing up as a pitcher from Texas that's a guy you idolize.

MG: Do you pattern yourself after him or anyone in particular?

MW: I don't know, I don't try to pattern myself, I try to look at little things that he does and how he prepares himself for every game, and try to use that maybe to my game plan. Seeing a guy like that, there's a reason why he's pitched for so long and had the success he's had, I think that's something that people, especially a guy like me, needs to look at and see what it is that he does on a day in day out basis to prepare himself - that's a big key.

MG: Got any plans for this off-season? Are you playing any winter ball?

MW: No, I threw too many innings to play winter ball. Not a lot, going to hang out with the family, and work out - that's really about it. I've just got to get ready for this next year - it's a big year.

MG: Do you think you've got a good chance of making the Majors next year?

MW: You know, I hope so, I wouldn't be playing otherwise - that's my goal. If I feel like I didn't have a shot, then I'd probably hang it up. I feel good, and I feel real strong and confident about coming into this year.

MG: Do you think of yourself as a power pitcher?

MW: Yeah, at times. That's what I've always been considered, is a power pitcher. I don't throw just harder than anybody, but I usually have the strikeouts...

MG: That's one thing they need up here.

MW: Yeah, well I hope I can help `em.