EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 14, 2013

Weaver talks ballparks, nerves and Scioscia

By Christopher Smith
csmith@eagletribune.com

---- — Angels ace Jered Weaver dominated the Red Sox last Sunday, pitching 6.2 scoreless innings to earn the win and lower his ERA to 3.38.

The 30-year-old Weaver posted an American League-best 20 wins and 1.018 WHIP in 30 starts last year when he finished third for the Cy Young.

Weaver, who has finished in the top five for the AL Cy Young the past three seasons, went one-on-one with Eagle-Tribune baseball reporter Christopher “Smitty” Smith.

Smitty: Did you get more nervous the first time you pitched at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium?

Weaver: I always get nervous no matter what game I am pitching in. It doesn’t matter if it’s at home or on the road. But I like coming to old baseball parks. It’s kind of a thing of mine. Going into old Yankee Stadium was awesome. I don’t think the feel of the new one is quite the same.

I’ve always liked going into old parks — Wrigley. I like coming here. At the same time, it’s kind of a tough atmosphere to pitch in as well. I kind of like the challenge.

Smitty: Does the mystique of the parks outweigh the small clubhouses at Fenway and Wrigley?

Weaver: It’s kind of a pain in that regard but you can kind of look past that and just realize what kind of guys walked through this locker room back in the day. The history of it washes out the size of the clubhouse, I think.

Smitty: What was the first major league game you ever attended?

Weaver: Dodger Stadium. I was really young so I don’t remember who they were playing. I went with my family. And I went there a bunch of times with my Little League teams. That was my home team growing up — the team we always rooted for.

Smitty: Who was your favorite Dodger?

Weaver: Actually, at the time, it was (Mike) Scioscia (now Weaver’s manager with the Angels) just because I was a catcher and he was, too. Kirk Gibson obviously — and Orel Hershiser was a good one to watch as well growing up.

Smitty: Do you study a lot of video of opposing lineups?

Weaver: I just go off of feel and how a hitter gets into the box and what kind of set-up they have. I get a feel for what I think they are doing at that time and that moment. So I don’t really do a lot of video. I just kind of pitch to my strengths until they make adjustments and that’s when I adjust back.

Smitty: What is it like pitching to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera?

Weaver: I mean, he’s hitting .400 right now with 400 RBIs and 400 homers and he’s only halfway through the season! No, I just think he’s an unbelievable hitter. His stature when he gets in the box is ridiculous and he’s smart at the same time.

He always changes his approach each at-bat. It’s kind of hard to get a feel for what you think he’s doing at that time. He’s got power from the right field foul pole to the left field foul pole. So you can’t really make mistakes to that guy without him hurting you. He’s pretty intimidating when he gets to the box.

Smitty: If you could chat pitching with anyone in the league now, who would it be?

Weaver: I think Roy Halladay would be a good one. He’s just got a bunch of different pitches that he can control all for strikes. He can throw them all in the strike zone. And obviously he’s had some pretty good success so it would be kind of nice to chat with him and see what his approach is.

Smitty: Which retired or deceased pitcher would you have liked to have chatted with?

Weaver: Probably Cy Young. I think that would be kind of cool. Obviously, they named the award for best pitcher after him so he must’ve been pretty good at his craft.

Smitty: Do you remember the first home run you ever hit in Little League?

Weaver: I didn’t really hit too many of them. When I did it was pretty exciting. I couldn’t even tell you my first one. I think it was a field that didn’t have a fence and I ran around the bases and it counted as a home run.

Smitty: How much do you talk pitching with your brother Jeff (a former major league hurler)?

Weaver: We talk on the phone a bunch. He watches the games and kind of likes to go over it the next day. But I think he realizes that I kind of know what I am doing out there nowadays. When I was younger, he’d like to obviously tell me what I was doing wrong and such.