What was your reaction when you heard you had been traded to Arizona?
Seeing the trade rumors going around, you never know where about you're going to land. When first found out I was going to Arizona, I was excited. It's an organization that's headed in the right direction, making some big moves to bring in some guys, and trying to get in the winning way. I'm excited to a part of that and couldn't be more happy.
Your name was coming up a lot. With the moves the Braves had been making, were you expecting to be dealt?
No, not really. I never really know. They were trading some guys that had done extremely well, long-term players for the Braves - Simmons - and obviously, what they did last year in the off-season. At any point you can get traded; I found that out with the Cardinals, when I got traded over to the Braves. You never really know what's going on. I can't really say I knew I was going to be traded - but you always have to kinda expect it as well.
That picture you posted on your Twitter, of you in the Diamondbacks jersey. How old were you when that was taken?
I would say I was probably about 12. We actually won state that year in Little League, for the state of Texas, so I thought that was pretty funny. It's actually a picture of me and my dad - he was my coach, pretty much the whole way through my Little League career. My wife actually wanted me to put that on there!
When you look at the package the Diamondbacks gave up to get you, what do you get from that?
That was obviously great. You look at what they give up, a lot of great players; I've faced Inciarte in the past, and he's given me some trouble. He's a great hitter and has done well in the big leagues, and then they get a couple of other big-name prospect. They want me over here, so I'm excited to be a part of it, I really am. I like the direction they're headed, and couldn't be happier about it.
How excited are you to be on a team that can finally give you some run support?
I've faced the D-backs in the past and, like I said, they've given me trouble. They have a lot of great hitters in the line-up, a lot of power. It's going to be a fun team to watch and a fun team to play for. Not only that, they're so defensively sound, have a lot of guys that make plays and lay out, a lot of exciting players to watch. It's going to be fun to be a part of that. I'm excited and stoked, to see what 2016 holds for us.
How do you look at your strong ERA and the fact that it really doesn't add up to wins for you?
The wins and losses come and go. That's a stat that people look at, and it's a great stat to have - a lot of players would be lying if they say they weren't trying to go out there and win that game! At the end of the day, I just like winning in general and going out and pitching for my team. I hope we win that night, and I hope the team wins, but you can go out and pitch just as well and still get the loss. It depends on how you look at it, really.
How do you feel about joining a staff with Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, etc.?
I've thought about that a lot. With the D-backs bringing Zack in,. that was a huge move for them. Once I found out I get to be a part of the staff, with Corbin, De La Rosa and all those huge arms, and Bradley who throws gas: with Greinke and me getting into that, it's going to be a fun rotation to be a part of. I can't wait to meet those guys, learn from them, get out to spring training and start putting some names to faces.
What was the biggest key for you last year, bouncing back from not such a good year in St. Louis?
There were multiple things involved. A lot of it was on the mental side - developing and learning how to pitch. Instead of being the "throwing" pitcher I've always been, going up and trying to strike guys out, being a power pitcher, I used the sinker and tried to get guys out as fast as possible, three pitches or less. I think that helped me go deeper into games, be more efficient. That's what I want: go as deep into the game as possible, let the bullpen have their days off. I think the biggest thing was the sinker, and the cutter I threw a lot more. It was a mix of things, and I think it all fell into place for me last year and I'm looking to build on that coming into this spring and get even better.
Throwing the sinker and cutter more often, was that something you decided to do on your own?
Really, it was just what I noticed I was having most success with. I've got some things I need to work on, even those two pitches need to be a little sharper and got a ways to go. I still have my curveball which I can build some confidence in, and I started throwing a splitter towards the end of the year which really felt good. A pitch like that I won't use a lot, but I think it's something which can be effective if you throw it 10-12 times a game, just to show you have something moving in that direction. I'm excited to get throwing again, which is coming up soon. the off-season has flown by so far, before we know it spring training will be here and we'll see how it goes.
What do you consider your upside, and how close are you to the pitcher you think you can become?
I feel good. Each year I've pitched. I feel like I've become a better pitcher, just my knowledge of the game. Facing the hitters, knowing the hitters, finding new ways to get guys out, working with new pitches. Because you're always having to change: the hitters in the game these days, they're so good, figure out your stuff quick, and if you miss your spots, they're going to punish you for it. So the biggest thing is polish all of that, and I'll be working on that going forward for sure.
What's your relationship like with Tony La Russa?
2010 was my first spring training and Tony was there up until 2001. With all the history he's had, he's one of the best managers in the history of the game, and now he's making his way over in Arizona and it's awesome. He's a guy who has been in the big leagues for a very long time, has a lot of knowledge of the game. I always remember how much he knew baseball and how much he loved it, and I know that's the reason he's back into it. I'm excited to be back with him: I think he's a great guy, great person, a guy who knows baseball. Him and Stewart have got this place heading in the right direction, for sure.
What are your off-season plans and when do you plan to head out to Arizona?
Right now, I work out in Houston, Texas, with a bunch of guys - there's a group of about 10 of us. Matt Albert is a guy that works out there, Michael Walker, couple of other guys in the big leagues. I'll probably be coming out a little early 'cos, like I said, I'm pretty antsy to get out there, put some names to faces and get out there. So probably around early February.