FutureBacks Q&A: Dan Pohlman

FutureBacks Q&A: Dan Pohlman

What happens when a pitcher shakes off his own sign? That's a question Dan Pohlman might just be able to answer. Drafted as a catcher out of Northwestern University in 2004 by the Diamondbacks, Pohlman has now officially made the switch full time to the mound, and flourished in his new role as closer. In a candid interview Pohlman talks about learning the game all over again, the difference between starting and closing, and how Big 10 baseball was the best thing for him.

FutureBacks:  You were drafted as a catcher, now you've been moved to the mound, did the Diamondbacks let you know that was the plan right from the beginning?

Daniel Pohlman:  It was kind of funny how it happened, I pitched late in a game last year when we were getting blown out, and I think I got two more appearances and then the coaches said, "You know you're going to spring training as a catcher, but don't be surprised if they ask you to throw a few bullpen sessions."  So I went into the offseason not really thinking about it, and I didn't hear anything all the way through the offseason.  Then I got a call and they invited me to mini-camp, and that's for pitchers and catchers, and I didn't really think about it at all, until they said, "Well you're not going to need your catcher's gear any more, you're going to be pitching full time now."

Honestly to tell you the truth I'm just going to do whatever they tell me, I had a good time catching, but I'll do whatever they ask me.

FutureBacks:  You pitched a little in college right?

Dan Pohlman:  A little bit, yeah.  I was exclusively a pitcher my freshman and sophomore years in high school, and then I didn't pitch at all my Junior or Senior year.  In college it was an off and on thing, I'm pitch sometimes, but never consistently.

FutureBacks:  Are you comfortable up there on the mound?

Dan Pohlman:  I feel fine, I guess because I pitched so much when I was younger.  I know there are probably going to be times when I'm not 100%, but right now it's comfortable.

FutureBacks:  What do you throw?

Dan Pohlman:  I'm throwing a fastball, curveball and a slider. 

FutureBacks:  What's your 'out' pitch?

Dan Pohlman:  It really depends on who you ask.  I just throw what the count dictates right now, but I feel like my slider is becoming better every time out there.  I think that's the one that's going to end up being that 'out' pitch for me.

FutureBacks:  How hard are you throwing, I've heard rumors that the fastball is close to triple digits?

Dan Pohlman:  Wow, I wouldn't say it gets that high, if I throw two or three days in a row it sits right around 90-93 miles per hour, and if I have a couple days off, it'll sit at 91-94.  Every pitcher gets lucky now and again, you really get behind one and it'll amp up a little bit for you, get a few extra miles per hour, but I'm not throwing 100, no.

FutureBacks:  What's been the toughest thing to learn now that you've moved to the mound full time?

Dan Pohlman:  For me it's really been the mental part of going after hitters that's been the most difficult thing for me.  When I was younger and pitching you didn't really learn how to pitch, because I threw harder than anybody, so you just threw your fastball by guys, but here everybody can hit a fastball, everybody can hit a breaking ball, so I've really had to learn how to mix pitches, and especially to hit my spots, hit my locations.  You've got to know the hitters, know what they are looking for.

FutureBacks:  Do you feel like you've got an advantage, a little head start, because you were a catcher?

Dan Pohlman:  I kind of got a little taste of that as a catcher, working on a game plan and executing it, but this is still the hardest part of the game, and I was only really catching for nine months.  I didn't start catching until my Senior year in college.  I was still learning there, so I didn't spend that much time looking at hitters yet, but that little bit of experience helps, it all helps as a pitcher.

FutureBacks:  You began the year in the starting rotation, but since you've moved to the bullpen, you've really come on, are you just more comfortable in the closer's role?

Dan Pohlman:  I'm not sure to be honest, I hadn't pitched in so long that in the spring the coaches told me I'd be starting because they wanted me to get as many innings as possible.  They really wanted me to work on developing my offspeed stuff, because I had a little bit of a curve ball and absolutely no slider at the beginning of the season.  The only real way to work on that stuff is to pitch, that's how pitchers develop, by pitching, but when I was out there as a starter I didn't have much success, I think I was 0-3 with an ERA of like seven or something.  Then after the draft they got an influx of starting pitchers in the rotation and so I moved into the pen, and I really think it suits my personality.  I like to get out there and go after hitters, and that's your job as a closer, you don't walk anybody, you want to put the pressure on the hitter.  As a starter it is a little different, there are times when you really are pitching around guys and not necessarily going after everybody, so I think the bullpen might be a little better for me, I've certainly had more success there.

FutureBacks:  Northwestern University has had its share of good athletes, but it's certainly not considered the power school that some of the guys are coming from, do you think that's a disadvantage?

Dan Pohlman:  That's a good question.  From a competitive standpoint it's best to go to a bigger school, because when you go to an Oklahoma State, Florida or Florida State you're going to be playing against the best players every day.  That's not to say there aren't any good players in the Big 10, but the reality is that it's not one of the better baseball conferences in the country.  The thing is though that if I'd gone to a bigger school I might not have gotten to play as much or had the chance to develop.  So you might not get the recognition you get at one of the bigger schools, but you get the time to play and work and develop.

FutureBacks:  You've been pro for like a year and you've already switched positions, and you switched right at the end of college, where are you going to play next year?

Dan Pohlman:  [Laughing] I'm looking for middle infielders gloves as we speak.  Spring training is right around the corner, so I guess I should be working on turning two and my footwork right?

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