Blue Collar Closer Bulger Likes the Work

<i>Bulger works at being 'nasty'

Jason Bulger is just one of the many young D'Back arms being groomed to close in the big leagues, and he knows it. How does one stand out from the crowd? By working, all the time, everywhere he goes. Managing Editor James Renwick talked to Bulger about when he wants to be in games (always), and how he plans to get there (did we mention the working?).

"It really doesn't matter who I'm facing in this league, when you're at this level everybody can hit."  Jason Bulger says this with almost no emotion.  There isn't a cocky attitude, there isn't fear, it is a matter of fact, bottom line observation.  Make your pitches, or you will pay.

It has been pretty rare that Bulger has not made his pitches.  In 49 innings pitched in 2004 Bulger posted a 3.26 ERA splitting time almost equally between (Hi A) Lancaster and (AA) El Paso, while notching 19 saves.  As another one of the young arms in the Diamondback's system being groomed as a closer, Bulger knows when he's coming in, and he's comfortable in the 9th.

"Second inning, ninth inning, it really is the same to me.  You have to get outs.  I got to make a couple starts, I've pitched as a set up guy and I've closed.  I guess I'm most comfortable closing because that's what I did in college, but I think pitching in all those different situations is really beneficial."

Calm, cool and collected.  Those are the words most often used to describe Bulger by teammates and coaches.  Opposing hitters tend to use a different set of adjectives, many we can't print here, one we can is 'nasty.'

Aware could be another.  Bulger knows an invitation to the Arizona Fall League means he's caught the attention of the Diamondbacks, and he knows an invitation to Spring Training is the next step.  "I'm looking forward to it," Bulger says of a potential invite in late February.  "That's the ultimate test, and it is what I'm working toward."

The invite is almost assured.  With so many young arms in the D'Backs bullpen, Bulger is sure to know more than a couple of guys he's working out with.  "You see the organization put the trust in these young guys and it really is a testament to the Diamondbacks, and to us."  It appears though that Greg Aquino has nailed down the closers spot, and at just 21, Aquino may be there awhile.  "That's why I'm happy I've gotten the experience pitching in so many different situations.  It just means I can handle any situation they put me in."

For Bulger the real work is now.  "I've got to keep working, and I do.  The off season is where guys like me can really improve.  The coaches down here are always ready to help me, and I take advantage of that.  I worked hard all year, I'm working hard down here, and I'll work hard when the Fall League is done in the off season.  That's the best way for me to get to the Majors, is just to keep working."

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