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Home » 2006 NewsJune 2006 » Interview with Phil Seibel

Interview with Phil Seibel

The year 2004 was not only momentous for the Red Sox, but also for Phil Seibel. The left-hander out of the University of Texas made his major league debut against the Orioles that season, and a few days later pitched three and two-thirds hitless innings against the Yankees. Unfortunately, the year also saw Seibel undergo Tommy John surgery after the World Series, which caused him to miss the 2005 season. Now back on the mound, the 27-year-old Seibel began this season at low-A Greenville before being promoted to Portland where he has appeared in six games for the Double-A Sea Dogs. I sat down with Seibel after he notched his first win since coming back from the injury.

JH: So, you got your first win this year yesterday. Congratulations.

PS: Thank you. It’s been tough to get wins because I am only on the mound five innings at a time because of pitch count. But when I’m out there I do my best to give the team a chance to win.

Since I’m rehabbing, I have to be stretched out gradually. Since the surgery, I’ve had stiffness and the cold makes it trickier.

JH: Describe the rehabilitation process you are going through.

PS: There’s overcoming mental barriers, like regaining confidence in my arm and getting used to its limitations. But it’s also physical. I have to learn trust my arm more and how do I attack a hitter.

In a way, it keeps things fresh and interesting since preparing for a game can be so routine. It has also helped me mechanically. I have cleaned up the things in my delivery that led to the injury in the first place. I’ve worked out the kinks.

My velocity is back to normal and I feel stronger. I feel that when I need to rear back it’s there. It’s been a roller coaster ride to recovery, but soon I’ll be more accustomed to the grind of pitching every fifth day.

JH: How was your injury diagnosed?

PS: It happened after I had gotten called up in September of 2004. One day I threw out of the bullpen and I knew something was wrong. It took me five days to get back to normal and even then something was amiss. We tried all sorts of rehabilitation procedures, but finally I got an MRI that revealed a torn ligament.

I was beating my head against the wall for so long trying to figure what the issue was; it was a relief to know what the problem was at last. Once we knew the diagnosis, we could get to the solution.

I have no regrets, no qualms about what I had to go through because it has helped me know myself and my pitching better.

JH: Has this injury impacted your career path? Do you still aspire to be a starter?

PS: I’ll do what they tell me to do, start or relief. My resume is bigger now that I have both starting and relieving experience. I’d prefer to be a starter, but if they ask me to relieve, I’ll do it.

My ultimate goal is to make the majors. Going from the majors and back down is like going from the best steak from Ruth’s Chris Steak House and then having to return to burger and fries.

JH: You graduated from the University of Texas. Do you still keep in touch with guys from your program and do you still follow Longhorns?

PS: I enjoyed Austin. I loved the atmosphere, people, and food so much that I live there in the off-season. I definitely still follow every aspect of Longhorn athletics.

The Texas football program is like a smaller version of Red Sox nation. We have a pride and the passion about the game and we have lost in heartbreaking ways. I can totally relate to the Boone homerun.

JH: You must be thrilled at the result of last year’s Rose Bowl. There was a lot of hype over USC.

PS: I saw all that hype and I thought, “This is good.” We had lost some games that we shouldn’t have, and the national championship game was our chance to prove ourselves. I believed that Texas had a better chance of stopping USC from scoring than vice versa. It was one of the highlights of being a Longhorn. That, and being in the stands when Ricky Williams broke the NCAA Division I rushing record.

For baseball, Augie Garrido can get the recruits. He brings a swagger and arrogance to the team so that his players know that they can win. He tries to bring the school’s football philosophy of “We’re supposed to win” to the baseball program. That’s why you see strong competitors come out of the Longhorn program. I’m still in touch with Huston Street and Brad Halsey; we work out together in the off-season. University of Texas has great facilities and I would love to pitch in Disch-Falk Field again, since it’s a pitcher’s park.

JH: You spent some time down in Greenville. Did the kids there look up to you?

PS: I’m no veteran by any means, but to them I have a lot of experience. It’s their first year in pro ball, and it’s never easy. I tried to teach them game preparation and how to attack certain situations. I tried to get them to think about their approach by asking them questions so they’d think about their game plan.

Since many are transitioning to pitching to wooden bats, I told them they could be more aggressive and pitch to contact.

This interview originally appeared in edited form on the Royal Rooters message board.

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