July 31, 2012
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Former University of San Diego All-American AJ Griffin has been red hot for the Oakland Athletics since being called on June 24, 2012. He has had seven starts, is 3-0 in these starts, and bolstering an impressive 2.51 ERA in 43.0 innings of work. USDToreros.com sat down and had a Q&A with the righty from El Cajon. Here is a brief transcript from that conversation.
(USDToreros) - AJ, you are off to a great start. Talk about how it feels right now.
(AJ) It's awesome man, I am having the time of my life right now. It's a dream come true. This is everything I imagined it would be and more. The guys are great, I'm doing the best I can, and it always helps when your winning, and as a team, we are playing great ball right now.
(USDToreros) - Talk about the day you got called up.
(AJ) Well I was in Las Vegas, we got there around 10-11, and I remember I lost money at the casino, really quick, and I was upset with myself for doing that, especially since you don't make a lot of money in the minors. So then I was chillen at the field. My manager called me in the office, and says "Griffin we are tired of the problems you cause on twitter, facebook, and all other social media." I didn't have a twitter account at the time so I knew something was off. Then he said there was also a problem at the front desk with me, then a pause and he said...naw I'm messing with you. Then he said, your not pitching tonight, and I was like what? Then he said you are pitching in Oakland tomorrow." So I was excited and then went off to Oakland.
(USDTOREROS) Talk about your first start, what was going through your mind.
(AJ) I don't think I was nervous, I was more pumped up, like I am here, lets do it! I was more excited than nervous. After a few pitches, it was like we are here, we are playing baseball like always. It's supposed to be fun, so I am having a blast.
(USDToreros) There was a rumor going around that after you gave up the first two runs against San Francisco, that you came in the dugout and said, I am not allowing another run to cross the plate. Was this true?
(AJ) Yes it is. I always believe that is going to happen, you have to be confident, even if your not, you have to look like you are. I truly believed I wasn't going to give up another run. Might sound arrogant, but you have to have that mentality or you are setting yourself up for failure.
(USDToreros) Most memorable moment so far in your major league career is...
(AJ) I don't have one that sticks out, the entire accumulation of moments have just been awesome. Its funny, I used to have an A-Rod poster in my room, and now I'm pitching against him. It's surreal. Pitching against Derek Jeter, A-Rod and all those great Yankees, as well as David Ortiz, and the Red Sox...pitching against Josh Hamilton and the Rangers, I mean the list goes on and on. But it is nice to be able to play against them at such a high level. This really is a dream come true.
(USDToreros) Did you think you would be here at this point in your career?
(AJ) I didn't expect it to be here this early, I was hoping for it, but I thought maybe next year. You know I just try to take it one day at a time, live in the moment, just like Coach Rich Hill always said. I am taking that mentality of one pitch at a time, and forgetting about that one bad pitch, and just being confident. You know I learned a lot from my coaches at USD. I also learned a lot from just playing in the minors, that experience has helped me a lot as well. I just try to work on getting better every day to just improve, and I am still doing that today. I think of this as an opportunity to get better, and cease every opportunity you get.
(USDToreros) So your time at USD helped you prepare for the Major Leagues?
(AJ) Yes! Man I was would have been way too immature for pro baseball without USD. I really value my time at USD and I can honestly say the coaching staff helped me mature, and prepared me mentally and physically for the pro's. So yes, without USD I would have been just another immature kid in minor league baseball.
(USDToreros) Talk about the most challenging batters you have faced so far.
(AJ) Wow, there have been so many great ones. Buster Posey, man he frustrated me, he just about fouled everything off I gave him, then I make one mistake and he goes yard. He is one of the more pesky outstanding hitters that I have ever faced. He gets the count where he wants it, and then executes. Josh Hamilton, man I felt like we had a good plan against him, and I felt confident we would do well against them. He did only got one hit off me, and he didn't beat me on that pitch, but he is a great hitter, you have to respect him. But the list goes on and on, so many great hitters out there, its hard to select just one.
(USDToreros) What is the biggest difference in minor league and major league ball?
(AJ) The travel, much more comfortable travel up here. The treatment when you are on the road, we are treated well, staying at nice hotels, the list goes on and on. I don't even think I am in the big leagues to be honest. I just feel like I am playing baseball. It's all just so surreal to me and I can't give you a clear-cut biggest difference. It's all just so amazing.
(USDToreros) How have you changed?
(AJ) Well one difference is I don't let things get to me. Like say if I give up a home run or the other team scores, I don't dwell on that anymore. I just forget about it and go on to the next pitch and seriously take it pitch-by-pitch, inning-by-inning, and live in the moment just like coach Hill always talks about. I say that is the main thing that has changed.