Matt Hobgood Talks After Rehab Start
2009 Baltimore Orioles first-round pick Matt Hobgood joined us on the Aberdeen IronBirds pregame show this afternoon to discuss yesterday’s rehab start with the IronBirds, his shoulder injury, the pressures of being a first-round pick, and much more. The full transcript is below.
Towney Godfrey: You skipped over Aberdeen on your ascension up to Delmarva, so this is the first time you’ve gotten to play in Aberdeen. What do you think of Aberdeen and of Ripken Stadium?
Matt Hobgood: I love Aberdeen. Like you said, I’ve never been here before but the first couple of games the stands were full. So, the atmosphere is great and we ended up pulling out an extra innings win right before we left (for Vermont). So, so far so good.
TG: How nice is it playing in front of fans again after making some rehab appearances in the GCL?
MH: Yeah, I think down in the GCL we averaged about four fans per game. No, but it’s nice to get back up to playing with a team now. And to get out of Florida. I was there for almost five months rehabbing, so it’s good to get out.
TG: Last night was your first rehab start with the IronBirds. How did you feel?
MH: I felt good. My stuff felt good. My arm felt great. I was just having some trouble getting the ball down, which Scotty Mac (IronBirds pitching coach Scott McGregor) said will come with getting the shoulder stabilized and strengthened from not throwing that much. Other than that, it felt good and I hope to build on that next outing.
TG: What do you think has progressed the most from your first rehab start to last night?
MH: Velocity a little bit. Last night I was 88-91, hit 93 a couple of times. So, that’s something they told me would maybe come back at the end of the year. I’m really just looking forward to me ending the year healthy and looking forward to 2012.
TG: So what other things do you need to work on to get back to 100%?
MH: Just keep working, doing everything I’m doing. I’m focusing on running and doing all the things I need to do, and like I said, I’m excited to build on the next couple starts. We have six or seven weeks left in the season, but I’m looking forward to it.
TG: Talk a little bit about the injury. It was a strained rotator cuff, right?
MH: Yeah. They just decided to rehab it. No need for surgery or anything crazy like that. So down there they just wanted to take precautions, take my time, and just make sure I’m feeling good and feeling healthy and the time came so they decided to bring me up here.
TG: How did you first notice the injury?
MH: My arm slot was dropping a little bit. My arm felt a little weak and tired, and that was in the beginning of my throwing. So, I wasn’t really sure what to do and I ended up talking to them and that’s the conclusion we came to.
TG: What was the rehab process like?
MH: It’s different. I’ve never gone through rehab and I’ve never had anything like that before. So, it was different. All the guys down in Florida did a great job in getting me back on the road to throwing again. I didn’t realized how much I missed it until it was a two- or three-month period where I wasn’t doing much. I finally got back on the mound June 20th in a GCL game and threw an inning. It felt really good to get back out.
TG: What’s the biggest difference between pitching in a game versus rehabbing and throwing bullpens?
MH: I couldn’t tell you, I mean obviously when fans are out there you get a little more into it, a little more competitive. I’m really, really competitive. So, like I said last night I would’ve liked to do a little bit better. Fans, atmosphere, team, just everything. It’s great getting back out there and doing what I love to do.
TG: You’re in your third professional season. What have you thought of your time in the Orioles system so far?
MH: They’ve been great. Everything hasn’t worked out the way that I would’ve liked it to, in terms of progressing through the ranks so to speak. I would’ve liked to be at least to Frederick by now, as would a lot of other people expect me to. You know, sometimes people don’t shoot through the ranks. You have some setbacks, you got a lot of learning to do. I’m a high school kid. I’m still 20. I’m trying to learn things from a mental side of it as well. So, I think I have a lot of growing to do but I’m excited for the future.
TG: What did you learn most from your first year in Delmarva?
MH: It’s a long season. 142 games, compared to 30 in high school, is long. And I’m not even playing in all of them. The travel is a lot different. Last year in Greensboro we had a 13-hour bus ride. The way up here, me and (Ryan) Berry had a nine-hour bus ride. We got in yesterday morning at 9:30, slept for about six hours, then we went out and pitched. I think a lot of people don’t realize the ins and outs of playing minor league ball. I know it’ll all be worth it once I get up to the big show.
TG: As a former first-round pick do you ever feel any added pressure?
MH: I like pressure and pressure situations. I don’t really look at it as pressure. I always wanted myself to succeed at a high-level. I wouldn’t say I’ve really done anything significant since I’ve been drafted, and I’m aware of that. But, like I said before, some things take time. I know (Matt) Holliday and (Ubaldo) Jimenez and some of those guys who had great years had their struggles in the minor leagues, so I just have to keep working and keep grinding.
TG: What’s your ultimate goal for the 2011 season?
MH: Just to stay healthy, finish healthy. I’m not looking for numbers or anything really. Just to finish the year healthy, finish strong, get some innings under my belt, and I’m looking forward to 2012.