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Spring Interview with Braves Relief Pitcher Blaine Boyer

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The interviews are back after a two week hiatus of opening week distractions and computer breakdowns. I caught up with Braves reliever Blaine Boyer during the middle of spring training in the Braves clubhouse before a game. Blaine's a great guy to talk to because he'll ramble on and on with every question you ask him, which makes his answers all the more interesting. He's also extremely nice and always has time to answer every question. He wears a small wooden cross on a string around his neck and seems like he's a very spiritual person, but still humble in his spirituality -- you'll see some of that come across in this interview.

Martin Gandy:  Talk about the last couple of years with the injuries and what you've gone through.

Blaine Boyer:  I had surgery in 06 and I came back and got injured the last day of spring [07], my oblique. I rehabbed that for the first month, came back, went to Richmond, pitched there for two, three weeks, called up to Atlanta, pitched in Atlanta for a little bit and then they wanted me to start down in Richmond, so I went down to Richmond to start and finished up there in Richmond last year.

MG:  How is it going back and forth between starting and relieving; you actually led the Southern League in innings several years ago as a starter.

BB:  It's a different animal for me, and for some people it's not, but for me it was different because I didn't really want to, but I changed my mentality when it came to starting and relieving. I think I tried to pace myself too much as a starter, and that's something you really just can't do. You could be throwing four scoreless and I'm always thinking, "gotta get to the seventh inning." I wish you could just go max out every time, every pitch, kind of like I feel that I can relieving. Just being able to go in there and just trying to blow people's doors off. As a reliever that's kind of more my mentality. I wasn't able to perfectly harness that when it came to starting.

MG:  So you almost prefer relieving, is that what you've come to realize?

BB:  I honestly will do whichever one, I don't really care. I don't necessarily prefer one over the other, I just know that I'm kind of more geared towards relieving right now.

MG:  How would you describe yourself as a pitcher?

BB:  Fastball, change-up, curveball guy. I've got a good fastball, good change-up, good curveball on any given day. I like to go after hitters and just attack the strike zone -- don't really give into anybody. That's really kind of how I gear myself as a pitcher.

MG:  How disappointing was it getting injured right there at the end of 2005?

BB:  It was pretty devastating, especially going into the playoffs -- you know, that's what you dream. I contribute it a lot to what God had in store for me, and I was really able to go through an interesting time where He taught me a lot of lessons through the downs and some of the ups as well. But right now I feel better than I did in 05. I feel like I've got more pop in my fastball, and I'm able to throw my curveball and change-up for more strikes now. So I'm super-blessed to be where I'm at right now, so I wouldn't change it for the world. I hate the fact that I had to miss out on 06 and have that surgery, but you know what, He had His plan, and His plan is certainly better than my plan.

MG:  Did you do any special rehab this off-season to build yourself back into top playing shape?

BB:  This past off-season I got together with Frank Fultz, our strength coach, and I absolutely crushed my legs. I just wanted to get my legs as strong as I could possibly get them to take some pressure off my arm and really just get my body in good shape, or where it was, and I've gone beyond that point now. It was a great off-season workout -- something I'm certainly not going to change here in the future.