Q & A with Twins' Jesse Crain

Q & A with Twins' Jesse Crain

Right-hander Jesse Crain has emerged as one of the game's top setup relievers over his first two seasons for the Twins. The Toronto native, who can reach 100 mph with his fastball, won 12 games to go along with a 2.71 ERA over 75 appearances (sixth in the AL) in 2005. He recently answered a series of questions from MLBPLAYERS.com.

MLBPLAYERS.com: How would you evaluate your performance this past season?

Jesse Crain: I'm happy with the results. I gained a lot of confidence in the last year or so. I feel comfortable every time I do get the call to go out there.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Upon your first taste of the big leagues last year, you had success. Is that what you expected your first year to be like?

Crain: I wasn't really surprised. I expect a lot out of myself. I set high goals for myself. I am not surprised and I am happy with everything going on with me.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you think your job as a setup guy gets its just due around the game?

Crain: I think the people in baseball respect it. They know how big of a role it is. The fans may not realize it as much, but as the position becomes more popular, it certainly plays a key role. It's important to get that lead to your closer in the last inning.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Having done your job, how comfortable do you feel handing the ball over to Joe Nathan after the eighth inning?

Crain: I definitely feel like the game is in good hands at that point. We know we're in good shape when he's out there. My job is to help bridge the gap from the starter to him as the closer.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Have you always been a pitcher?

Crain: I didn't focus solely on pitching until I was drafted. I had always played shortstop throughout college (University of Houston) as well. When I was drafted, I was asked to be a pitcher. That's when I really started to focus on it. Heading into this year, I only had three years of pro experience. I'm still learning a little bit.

MLBPLAYERS.com: How did you feel when they asked you to switch to pitching?

Crain: I wouldn't say that pitching is my first love. I liked playing the field as long as I could, but I sort of always figured I had a future in pitching because I had a strong arm. I knew it would be hard to let go of the fielding but, little by little, I've gotten over not playing every day and I've gotten used to pitching. I love pitching now.

MLBPLAYERS.com: If you had remained at shortstop, how far do you think you would have progressed?

Crain: I don't know how far. I don't think I would be here today and having the same amount of success I have right now as a pitcher.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Why do you think you rose to the big leagues as quickly as you did?

Crain: I rose quickly, but I was able to go through some times where I was not doing too great for a while. Those times helped me pick it up. I think they wanted me to fail at times to see how I would come back. I think that helped me get to the big leagues as quickly as I did. Failure happens every day in this game.

MLBPLAYERS.com: On the day you signed your contract, did you imagine being a big league pitcher by 2004?

Crain: No. I didn't think I would get here so quickly. It's sort of surprising, but I've stuck with it. In pro ball, I was finally able to work on one position and one position only. That helped me along in the process.

MLBPLAYERS.com: In 2004, you got your first chance to pitch in the postseason. Did you see a huge difference between the regular season and the playoffs?

Crain: Obviously, it was the playoffs and it was make or break, but I did my best to take it as just another game. I was out there to get outs. If you put too much pressure on yourself, that's when you're going to struggle a little bit. There were more fans and all that, but I tried to think of it as any other game.

Jeff Moeller, a freelance writer for MLBPLAYERS.com, is based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.