Sunday, March 16, 2008

Q & A with Caleb Cotham

Shortly after picking up the win in the Commodores’ 10-4 victory over South Carolina in the rubber game of a three-game series, redshirt freshman Caleb Cotham sat down with The Sports VU to talk about a number of topics, including his impressive X-Box skills and impressive repertoire of pitches. You can also check out my column on Cotham from here.

Q: Knowing that it was the rubber game of the series, what was your mindset coming into the start?
A: I was just trying to come out with an edge. We got beat pretty bad last night and I wanted to come out and make a statement early on, just compete and show them that we weren’t going to give in.

Q: How do you go after such talented guys like Justin Smoak, especially after the way they hit yesterday?
A: You’ve got to be fearless going after big hitters like that… You have to forget about (yesterday) and you can’t give them too much credit. You can’t come in today saying “Oh, they’re so great. What am I going to do?” I was aggressive, and it paid off.

Q: Talk about the pitches that you throw and how comfortable you are with each of them.
A: I’m a fastball guy. I like to establish my fastball both sides of the plate and once I do that, I like to throw a slider for a strike and then have a slider that I can throw in the dirt as a chase pitch. I also show a change up to keep them in check.

Q: What can your fastball get up to?
A: 91-92.

Q: How cool was it to walk off to a standing ovation in the sixth in your first SEC start?
A: I was just glad that I could put together a pretty good performance for my team. Of course it’s nice to come off to a standing ovation. Everyone loves that.

Q: How nervous were you before the game?
A: There were some butterflies, but I kind of took them more as motivation. I wanted to show them I am ready for this.

Q: What’s the biggest difference in your game from this year to last year?
A: From this year to last year, the biggest thing is confidence, knowing that I can hang with these guys. Last year I was just trying to fit in, got a little timid.

Q: How gratifying was it to win your first SEC start?
A: I was excited to get my crack at SEC. Watching all last year, I had a feel for what it was but it’s a big step up. I had thrown midweek up until now to so to step in and do well for my team, it’s a great feeling.

Q: What pitchers do you admire?
A: I’d have to say David Price last year. I used to come to the games and watch Jeremy Sowers and all those guys pitch growing up. I was a big Vanderbilt fan. I also like Roger Clemens a lot – his competitiveness.

Q: Talk about your redshirt year. I’m sure it was frustrating not to be out there when you’ve played baseball your whole life, but at the same time, I imagine you learned a lot.
A: It was a humbling experience because I really hadn’t sat out before, and being able to learn the game and watching guys like Price and (Casey) Weathers go about their business, how they competed and worked hitters. I just had my notepad out, taking notes, and it’s paid off.

Q: What’s it like throwing to guys like Pedro and Flash (Ryan Flaherty) in practice? I’m sure it prepares you well.
A: We have a great lineup so I feel like if I can get them out, I can get anyone out in the nation. I get (Pedro) out, so when Smoak comes up, I know it’s not going to be hard.

Q: Pitchers tend to love shagging fly balls in practice. Who’s the best at it?
A: I am. We like to shag them and make a game of it, and I’d like to say I’m the best.

Q: How do you keep busy on days you’re not pitching?
A: Being a Sunday starter, I was on every pitch Friday and Saturday, picking up tendencies, where they were in the box, what pitches worked to what guys, and charting. To more you’re on every pitch, the more successful you’ll be.

Q: Favorite movie?
A: Blow.

Q: What’s on the iPod these days?
A: John Mayer. And I just got the new Herbie Hancock CD.

Q: Are you into video games?
A: Oh yeah, I’m a big X-Box guy. I played Halo competitively a little bit when I was in high school and won a couple tournaments.

Q: Impressive. Still have time to play?
A: Down time in my room, I’ll play “Call of Duty” online.

Q: Anyone else on the team play with you?
A: Pedro plays, and I play with Price a lot. He’s in Spring Training and has a lot of down time.

Q: Do you have a pre-start routine?
A: I like to eat a good breakfast and then just throw on my iPod and relax in the locker room until it’s time to warm up.

Q: Funniest player on the team?
A: I’d have to say David Macias.

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