Dec 9, 2010

Q&A with Ryan Rowland-Smith

2010 was a tough season for Aussie pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith. The big left-hander came off a very strong 2009 season in which he demonstrated genuine potential to be a consistent performer and solid number 4 or 5 starter at the Major League level. He began the 2010 season as a part of the Mariners' starting rotation, but just couldn't get to the same levels as he did in 2009 and finished with a 1-10 record. He has now parted ways with the Mariners and is looking for a fresh start in 2011. He is associated with the Sydney Blue Sox in the Australian Baseball League and is back in Australia for a few weeks. Ryan recently discovered, and has kindly taken some time to answer a few questions about what he learned last year, and his hopes for the next season.

You have recently parted ways with the Mariners, who have played a massive role in your MLB career over the past ten years. What do you remember as being the highlights of time with the Mariners, and what are you going to miss about the club and the city?
Seattle will always be very close to me - the city and the people. There are so many good people in that organization from top to bottom that I formed great relationships with. The things I'll remember most are things like my debut at Safeco Field, and getting a standing ovation after my last start in '09.

Also the fans are amazing, even through my struggles last year they were so positive and stuck by me. I am going to miss the M fans a lot.

Which player did you learn most from, or most look up to during your time at the Mariners and why?

The one guy that stands out as being a mentor and probably the best team mate I'll ever have would have to be [ex-Mariners first baseman] Mike Sweeney. He is such an amazing human being inside the dugout and in the clubhouse. The guy makes every situation better, he would be the first guy I would go to when times got tough. When I am a veteran guy I really hope I can take on his leadership qualities.

Have you been following the ABL much? Who do you rate as young up and coming Aussie pitchers?

I have been trying to, now that I can follow your website it will be easier [nice plug Ryan - thanks!]. I have looked up the rosters and done some research on the young guys who I look forward to meet. There are a lot of new names which seem to grab some hype so I want to see what they're all about.

2010 was obviously a bit of a contrast to 2009, you seemed to get stronger and stronger as 2009 went on, and fought back well from a couple of set backs. What is your plan to try and reach the same success you did in 2009? If 2011 shapes up the same way 2010 did, would you do anything different, and if so, what?

Sure was a contrast! It's amazing how an experience like the 2010 season can really make you work on changing physiologically. In 2009 I really had trust in myself as far as trusting in my mechanics and trusting that my fastball, change up, whatever the pitch I was throwing would beat the hitter, I had a mind set of going after guys, attacking the strike zone and backing my plan.

In 2010 I lost confidence, I tried to be perfect on every pitch, I listened to way too many opinions and lost what got me to the big leagues and gave me success, [that is] competing and having a screw you attitude.

As for 2011 being the same as 2010, I already know that it won't [happen]. Whoever gets me in 2011 gets the real me and not the imposter that went out every 5th day last year. That is number one on my goal list: to prove a point, and that's what I plan on doing.

You have chosen to do a lot of training with some MMA gyms, is there any chance of you stepping into the octagon? Are you a fan of the UFC or other MMA? Who do you follow? What attracted you to MMA?

HAHA, no Octagon for me. Maybe in a few years. [I will] try baseball out first.

I have tried all different types of training, baseball movement's hitting or pitching is an explosive movement, MMA provides that. I got introduced to the group I am training with last year when I met Randy Couture. Randy told me about a program him and his partner Jay Glazer put together for athletes called MMATHLETICS. So this off season after struggling, I wanted to put myself around some of the most mentally tough people I could, and that was it. Jay Glazer has been putting me through tough workouts four times a week.

As well as being some of the toughest workouts physically I have ever done, which leave you laying on a ground in sweat with your guts spinning, it is a huge physiological boost - which I was in desperate need of. Those guys can't be scared or unsure of themselves in their sport.

I have never felt so in control of my mind when it comes to competing, which through my experience will be huge for me in 2011.

As far as watching the UFC, I am a lot more into after [now] being around MMA. I posted a pic on twitter a few nights ago of Cooper Gibson, who also trains me. [He's] a 20 year old who works his ass off and hopefully we will see him on a UFC card soon.

What are your plans for the rest of 2010? When are you heading back to the States?
I am spending Christmas with my family, my girlfriend Amanda and her parents probably up on the Gold Coast. I will be working out, throwing, and hopfully checking out a few Blue Sox games. [I will] return to LA to continue workouts there on the 10th of January .

Thanks to Ryan for being generous with his time and for offering some insights into his plans for 2011. I look forward to seeing how things pan out over the next few months. It would be great to see him in a Blue Sox uniform throwing down some nasty stuff at the Perth lineup in a few weeks time - I suppose we will have to wait and see what happens.

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