The bullpen must always be Ready

Alfredo Fernandez

The San Diego Padres know how important a strong bullpen is. They employ the same tactics in the minor leagues and the Fort Wayne Wizards were the staple of that success, bridging the gap between the starters and closer John Madden. Randy Ready talks about the bullpen prospects and more in an exclusive interview.

On the pitching front you had a few go to guys as well in the relief corps. Alfredo Fernandez, Jon Link, Brandon Higelin – how nice was it to have that solid pen available to you?

Randy Ready: The bullpen – if you talk to any successful club the bullpen makes or breaks you. Our starters weren't getting us too deep in the first half. That rotation settled after a trade here and some promotions.

Those guys had a lot of appearances. Our policies are setup where everyone has a defined role with opportunities to change. For example, if a pitcher pitched a couple of days in a row he might get cleaned up and another pitcher would have an opportunity to pitch later in the game.

Higgy had a pretty consistent year.

Alfredo had a real nice year and made a lot of progress in his control and his slider.

Link had a nice year going and I think the appearances kind of wore him down. He took a little break in the action and had a hard time recovering. Confidence is fragile at this level. The kids don't regain it you almost have to wait to have a fresh start for the upcoming Championship season.

Steve Delabar – we cut out the walks and we have a star on our hands.

Randy Ready: Stevie has a good arm, no question. Consistency is going to be the name of his game on whether or not he moves up the ladder or not. When I say consistency, consistency with his command, consistency with his secondary pitches, he has developed a nice changeup, and consistency with repeating his delivery. Factor all those things in and this kid has a chance to pitch at the higher levels.

What impressions did you get of Wade LeBlanc in the seven or so starts he made for you?

Randy Ready: Wade came in and threw strikes, pitched off his fastball. Pitchability and location and command are nice things, changes speeds, and he has a couple of different changeups. That is a plus pitch for him. When he keeps the ball down he is very effective.

Someone who surprised me and really made tremendous strides throughout the season from Independent ball was Nathan Staggs.

Randy Ready: Staggs-e, a San Diego product, cuts dust. His delivery is a little inconsistent but there is some arm strength there. He was a work in progress all year long for Tom Bradley and I think Nate responded well to the adjustments. This guy came out of nowhere and has two pretty good pitches – an above average fastball, above average curveball and slider so this guy is going to have an opportunity to see what he can do next spring.

John Madden – your closer had a great season too.

Randy Ready: Obviously the way our games were won or lost by five or seven runs over the first half he didn't get a lot of appearances the first half but John is real methodical. We were looking at pictures of when we got off the bus in April and how we were going out of town in September – there was a lot of maturity not only in John but in all these young men. I think John was one of the guys that really matured. He got in a position where he really trusted his stuff and was very confidence in those situations to close games out.

Talk about your opportunity in the Arizona Fall League.

Randy Ready: I know there were six or seven that are already in the big leagues in the month of September. There were a couple of pitchers that were up and down.

It is an opportunity to work with guys with those kinds of skills and abilities. They all have the same goal in mind to get to the big leagues and stay there. That (was) refreshing to manage these kids.

We talked about the opportunity to coach in the big leagues – is this a stepping stone?

Randy Ready: If you look at the history of the fall league it has opened up eyes for all 30 major league teams for the coaches and manages that had opportunities in the league. It is a nice feather in the cap. I am very content with the Padres organization. I played here. I make my home here. If there were some changes there that would be great. Right now, things are progressing well. I feel confident that those things will shake out and I will find some direction any which way it goes.

That third game of the playoffs everyone was on the same page. If we would have gotten over that hurdle, we had an opportunity to go the distance.

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