Derek Holland on MLB Network Radio: “I know what I have to do”
As the Texas Rangers and their fans prepare to celebrate what to be thankful for, left-handed pitcher Derek Holland joined Jeff Joyce and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio’s Power Alley. On top of discussing Thanksgiving plans (he’s cooking the turkey…for the first time ever…with no backup plan) and Michigan football, the Dutch Oven chatted about a couple of things he’s knowledgeable about – namely, the game of baseball.
One of the first things asked by Joyce and Duquette was how his off-season has been going. Hope and expectations will be different for Holland going into this season, as he looks to complete a full 162-game season for the first time in two years.
“I feel great. I’m starting my workout as soon as I finish Thanksgiving. I’ll start Friday. Other than that, everything’s been going really well, it’s time to get ready for Spring Training…it’s obviously don’t get hurt, stay healthy, I know how to handle all that stuff. I’ve gotten to 200 innings, so I know what I have to do and what it’s going to take. The training staff is going to do a good job of keeping me in control of my innings and making sure my workload is good, but overall, I know how to prepare myself for it, it’s just a matter of executing it.”
He says he hasn’t had any interaction with Rangers’ new pitching coach Doug Brocail since he joined the team, acknowledging the busy time around Thanksgiving. Holland said that their paths will likely cross before Christmas, however.
When asked if there was anything different he was doing to strengthen the shoulder (he missed around three and a half months with a subscapular strain of his right shoulder after throwing one inning in his 2015 season debut), Holland basically said that all systems are go. He has been working on maintaining his strength and saw a doctor to have a check-up to make sure all was good for him to begin workouts.
With trade deadline acquisition Cole Hamels fronting the rotation, along with the pending return of Yu Darvish from Tommy John surgery sometime in May, Holland was asked about his thoughts on the starting five arms for 2016. He mentioned how great it is to have Hamels on board and is curious to see how Darvish responds to coming back from TJ surgery. As Darvish has spent a lot of time so far in Dallas, Holland has been able to be around for his workouts and believes that the way he’s been training will have him ready to go when he returns. As for himself, Holland said that his goal was to re-establish himself as a top of the line pitcher and wants to get out there to show what he’s capable of.
Skipper Jeff Banister was the recipient of the BBWAA’s Manager of the Year award. The guys from Power Alley asked Holland his thoughts on the first-year manager. He responded by saying Banister is a guy with great leadership skills who is good with his words and very vocal. He called Banister a player’s coach who controls the clubhouse and interacts with each player based on his personality.
The bullpen became a small point of discussion, and Holland gave credit to the defense as well, saying that the guys in the field would make the plays needed as long as the pitchers kept them on their toes. Of new bullpen acquisition Tom Wilhelmsen, Holland says that he just adds to a bullpen of “shutdown guys.”
Holland was asked on what kinds of things he picked up from his fellow rotation mates and what he would work on with their help. Dutch said that when Matt Harrison was with the club (before he was traded to Philadelphia in the Cole Hamels deal), he would be Holland’s go-to guy for talking about preparing for games and working on pitches. He specifically mentioned working on his change-up with Harrison, and then when he was shuttled to Philly, picking up change-up talks with Martin Perez and Hamels. Holland said he has been working on getting his change-up back to where it was when he was first drafted by Texas in 2006, and he feels it’s at that point now where he can use it with more frequency and more confidence. During the season, he would play with a few different grips on the pitch, some of which worked for a time and then didn’t, which he acknowledged can throw a pitcher’s confidence off. As far as Hamels goes, Holland calls him a very funny guy in a very quiet way, but also a very smart, very hard worker.
Before the talk turned to college football, Holland was asked how teammate Elvis Andrus, as well as the rest of the team, was handling the disappointment of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS versus the Toronto Blue Jays. Holland says that the team, and especially Andrus, has moved on. For Andrus, Holland says that the shortstop knows that he will always have his “haters,” and that there will always be constant reminders of the error-filled inning that ended the Rangers’ improbable post-season run. Andrus’ teammates, however, have been constantly talking to him and throwing their support behind him, making sure that his motivation stays high, and Andrus has done a great job of dealing with everything.
Derek Holland will be entering the final guaranteed year of his contract extension with Texas, as the team holds two team options for 2017 and 2018 on the lefty. He will be looking to bounce back from two injury-plagued seasons, the most recent of which saw the 28-year old make ten starts in the regular season, amassing a 4-3 record with a 4.91 ERA. One of those victories included a dominant complete game shut out of the Baltimore Orioles; after that game on August 30th, Holland’s season took a downward turn, marked by inconsistencies and problems with command. Barring an off-season pick-up, Holland will enter the 2016 as the #2 starter behind Cole Hamels.