FutureBacks Q & A: Jason Bulger

FutureBacks Q & A: Jason Bulger

FutureBacks.com talked to Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders reliever Jason Bulger shortly after an outing where he gave up three earned in just one-third of an inning, easily his worst outing of the year. Then Bulger went on a tear. In five straight appearances Bulger threw 5.2 scoreless innings, giving up only one hit during the streak and striking out six. Could this kid be the answer to the Diamondbacks' bullpen woes?

You've only had a couple bad outings, but it is a big deal for a reliever to have a short memory, and you bounced back, how do you accomplish that?


It's a mentality you have to have or you're going to have a short career as a reliever.  For me a bad outing is motivation to pitch even better, to work even harder, so that I know I'll make good pitches next time.  For some guys it comes easier, comes naturally, some guys can develop that mentality, but the bottom line is if you're going to let those things weigh on you you're going to have a tough time. 


You never want to give up runs, but is it almost a good thing that you have a bad outing now and again so you can show the coaches that you'll come back strong after a tough day?


You never want to have an outing like I had last week, but I guess I do think that looks positive for the future for the coaches.  They get to see that I'm going to bounce back.


Were you surprised to be named to the Triple-A team, or is that what you expected after having such a good 2004?


I went into camp the same way I go to any camp, I wanted to make the big league roster.  I knew it was going to take an exceptional spring to get that done, and when I realized I wasn't going to make the big league roster, I definitely wanted to make the Triple A team.  In the back of mind I just knew that the bullpen situation up with the Diamondbacks was crowded.  It would've taken a remarkable spring, so I can't complain, I'll get an opportunity if I make pitches.


Last time we talked you were working a lot on your changeup, how is it coming along, and do you have the confidence to throw that pitch in tough counts?


I sure have, it's been one of the best pitches I have.  In fact just last week I got a big out, a big strikeout on that.  I had to work on that pitch quite a bit, because to throw it you have to have total confidence in it.  You're always tweaking things, even your fastball, nothing ever feels 100% on the mound, but right now I'm very comfortable with my change, and I've been using it a lot.


Is the slider still your out pitch?


It is, that's the one I'm most confident in.  My slider really came along after I had Tommy John surgery.  It's funny that one of my pitches, my slider, got better after surgery, but that's what happened.


So are you suggesting to young pitchers trying to develop a slider that Tommy John is the way to go?


[Laughs] Absolutely not.  Stay away from the operating table if you can, but it worked out for me.


With the big league club's bullpen struggling a bit, is there more pressure or just more incentive for you to pitch well, knowing a call could come any day?


That's something I don't worry about, I look to get guys out at this level.  All I want to do is just continue to get guys out down here and everything else will work out.  I can't worry about what the big league club is thinking, I've got to worry about what I'm doing.


A lot of the guys in Tucson have had time with the big league club, do you pick their brains, talk to them about what it is like there?


Definately, I know all those guys, Michael Gosling is a good friend of mine.  They've all given input, not even necessarily about the Major League level, but about this level.  So they help all the time, and I'm grateful for their help, because it really helps me out.


Any major adjustments since last year?


Not really, little mechanical things like working quicker to plate.  At the end of last season I was very comfortable.  I got to go to the Arizona Fall League which was great for me, and a good league to play in, but it also really didn't give me a chance to get out of sync.  It was almost like I didn't have an offseason.


Would you go back to the Arizona Fall League this year?


I wouldn't mind going back there, but hopefully by that time I'll have moved to next level.  It's a great league, if you look at the number of guys who came from there last year and are in the big leagues now it's obvious it is a good thing to go to.  It wouldn't be terrible situation to go back.


Struck out at least one in 15 of your 18 appearances, are you a strikeout pitcher?


I think I could classify myself like that, but Roger Clemens is a strikeout pitcher.  I don't think I'm there yet, but the stuff I have is strong enough.  I just try to make pitches, I believe in my stuff.  I have a plus fastball, but I don't go up with the mentality to strike every guy out.  Nobody's struck every guy out, but I'm fortunate, because when I need I strikeout I believe I can get it.

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