As spring training approaches its end, I have had the opportunity recently to speak with a few Phillies prospects to talk about their status and how the exhibition season has been going. A trio of hurlers took time to speak on various subject and those pitchers are Mario Hollands, Tyler Knigge and Nick Hernandez.
Leading off is last year’s opening day starter for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Mario Hollands. The left-hander, was selected in the 10th round of the 2010 draft. Last season, with the BlueClaws, Hollands posted a 6-6 record with a 4.24 ERA in 28 games. Hollands improved his efforts after a switch to the bullpen. Read ahead to learn what Mario told PhilliesNation writer Jay Floyd about the dreaded spring training “walk of death” and plenty more.
JF: How would you assess spring training to date? What have you taken from these past few weeks?
MH: I’m really happy it’s almost over. It’s a long road for everyone. But besides that, with all the changes in personnel, I’m happy to come out with a job.
And I’ve been able to work on different pitches and just being able to improve them. Fine tuning some pitches before the season starts….just the little things that I’m able to work on each day has really helped out.
JF: You mentioned being happy to still have your job. With guys who seemed to have a firm lock on their spot, like Eric Pettis, getting cut, it really seems like almost anyone could go at any time. I spoke with Brian Gump, a player that was released last week by the Phillies, and he described entering the facilities each day as “a walk of death”, as guys are unsure if they’ll be requested to go talk with the brass and receive bad news. How stressful is it for players to walk into that on a daily basis?
MH: That “walk of death”, as Gump called it, is easily the scariest thing I’ve ever faced, or anything I’ve come across. It’s so intimidating and the walk is so far and you can see (the coaches) ahead of you and for 45 second (as you walk), you don’t know if they’re going to ask you to come off to the side or if you’re going to get to just keep walking by them. It’s absolutely terrifying. I’d have to say that applies for everyone. From first rounders to recently drafted kids, it’s the worst thing. It just makes for a horrible morning. It actually just turns into horrible days because (when guys are cut), you have to say your goodbyes to all these guys that you might not see again maybe, ever, or for a long time. It’s just a horrible time of the year and I think…there’s still one more cut and everyone’s just dreading that morning. Continue reading Spring Training Check In: Hollands, Knigge, Hernandez