Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Interview with Kevin Jarvis

Kevin Jarvis, opening day starting pitcher for the Padres, sat down with Marty and talked about his road to success in 2002. Check it out in Marty’s Corner.

ML: Marty Lurie here with Kevin Jarvis of the San Diego Padres, and I say it’s one of the good stories in baseball, Kevin. You were with the A’s, you got released, and you’ve worked hard to come back; and now opening day starter for the Padres, and maybe the veteran on the staff.

KJ: It seems like I’ve had a bit of an odyssey, especially after the year I spent in Japan, and then coming back and signing with Oakland. I’ve had a stop in Colorado, and now this is my second year with the Padres. I really feel comfortable here and very appreciative that they’ve included me in the core group of players that they’re going to keep together and move forward into their new stadium in a couple of years.

ML: What was the turnaround for you? Was it simply a matter of maturing as a pitcher, or did you change your game?

KJ: The year I spent in Oakland, I spent the majority of that year in Vancouver, and it wasn’t something that I was particularly pleased about; but the one thing it did for me was allow me to pitch every fifth day, which I hadn’t done in a couple of years at that point. I proved to myself again that I could pitch and that I had the skills needed to succeed up here, and I really didn’t get the opportunity in Oakland. Then moving to Colorado the next year I got into a situation where I did get the ball for about 20 starts. If you can survive a year pitching in Colorado, it’s going to make you stronger, and it’s going to make you a better pitcher. Some of the things I learned there I carried forward last year, and things fell into place. There are two factors to playing. You need to have the opportunity, and you need to take advantage of it. Fortunately, I was able to get both of those done last year.

ML: Pitching in Colorado for many pitchers, is the end of the line. Look at Mike Hampton or Denny Neagle, the struggles they’ve had. Daryl Kile has had struggles there. You did have success there, so what is the secret for you, and what did you take from Colorado that enabled you to make the move to San Diego and now, truthfully, the number one guy on the staff?

KJ: I think more than anything, Marcel Lachmann, the pitching coach I had in Colorado, really hammered with me the point if you make your pitches over the long haul, if you hit your spots, you’ll be all right. I was always in a situation where I made some pitches, but yet there was a jam shot, or a ball was hitting the hole, or something; and I didn’t get immediate results. Sometimes my opportunity was fleeting. He didn’t go back and look at the film. If I did my job by throwing the pitches and hitting my spots, no matter what the batter did with those pitches, he was going to be in my corner. So it gave me the peace of mind to know that I had control over my own destiny, and it wasn’t a matter of having a ball fall in and runs scored that maybe I didn’t have as much control as I wanted to. That allowed me to go out and have a longer-term perspective with the peace of mind that I was going to get the ball every fifth day. I just carried that forward.

ML: How old are you now, and did you ever have the feeling that possibly you wouldn’t have the success in the major leagues, because you did go to Japan, and you did have the odyssey to get here?

KJ: I’m 32, and I guess it’s a testament in perseverance or stubbornness. I’m not sure which, but I always felt that I could have success and was always puzzled that it didn’t come sooner than it did. I didn’t give up and just kind of ground it out. You never know. You keep getting opportunities, and you keep working hard maybe something will click, whether it’s physical or a mental type of approach that will make the difference for you.

ML: Today with the globalization of baseball, you find many younger players going to Japan, playing in Korea, other places, then coming back to the United States, and having success in the American League or National League of baseball here in the states. What did you learn from Japan? What was your experience like in Japan?

KJ: It was a very educational experience. It was frustrating, though, to some degree because the job I went over to do was to pitch, and I ended up not getting the opportunity to throw over there a whole lot. I think I only pitched in three ball games for the team over there because of a certain set of circumstances and the fact you can only have two Japanese pitchers per team. After winning my first start, we acquired a second pitcher from Korea, so there were three of us; and I ended up being the odd man out for political reasons more than anything. I threw a lot of bullpen sessions over there, and ran a lot, and worked on my change up over there and that got to be a more consistent pitch for me. I just tried to make it a positive in that I was getting a lot of side work. That was all I could do, and then when I came back to the states, I had a pitch I was more comfortable with.

ML: It’s funny. I talked to people who played in Japan. What you do in pre-game practice for hitters and pitchers dictates if you’re going to play in the game, which is obviously quite different than here. Here you look to see what you do in the game, but over there you have to shine in pre-game workouts.

KJ: There’s a different structure to your day over there. There are morning workouts. There’s a morning walk when you get up at the hotel. The team gets up and walks around the hotel together to greet the new day, and then you have breakfast together. There are morning workouts. There are early afternoon practices before the game. It’s a good league. It’s good competition. There are good players over there, and I think we’re seeing that with the players that come over here and play with us.

ML: If you had to tell me the strength of your game right now as a pitcher, what is that strength?

KJ: I think I’m aggressive. I throw strikes with several different pitches and different speeds. I’m mentally focused and mentally strong out there. I keep the ball club in the game and in a position to win most of the time I go out there.

ML: As I said, when we started this, this is one of the good stories of baseball, Kevin Jarvis.


There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.