Red Sox prospect Stephen Fife took some time out of his schedule to answer some questions for Fire Brand.
Fife, 22, was drafted in the third round of the draft out of Utah. In 14 relief appearances for the Lowell Spinners, he posted a 2.33 ERA while participating in the Futures at Fenway doubleheader.
What was it like to pitch in Fenway Park for the Lowell Spinners?
Fenway was unbelievable!! I like to call it a moment of a dream come true. It was like a dream for the first bit of that experience. After the previous couple weeks of missing tjree appearances, due to weather, it was extremely rewarding to get to throw three innings in the best ballpark in the MLB.
It was the first time in my life that before the game the butterflies in my stomach ALMOST made me nauseous. BP was awesome!! They opened up the Green Monster for all of us to see, surreal, and watching guys I play with smoke balls off the monster and out of the park was surely something I will never forget.
As game approached I just couldn't stop thinking that I was sitting in the bullpen that I have watched on TV since I was a kid. After the first inning I settled down and just enjoyed teammates and the atmosphere of the stadium. As I got the call at the end of the 4th that I would be throwing the 6th I had to remind myself that the game was the same game between the lines.
Outside the lines it was the biggest crowd I have ever been in front of. At the beginning of the game there was probably about 10,000 fans and by the time I stepped off the mound it was almost a full stadium.
Warming up was calming and when I stepped out for the sixth I focused up pretty well. I didn't have my best stuff that day but I did my job and kept the score where it was when I entered the game. I remember in the 7th inning I came out and the wave was rounding the seats. I have seen the wave and been a part of it in the stands, it's a completely different experience to be standing in the middle of it and to hear the intense roar of the crowd.
The density of the seating let me know where the wave was between each pitch. Quieter above the monster and ridiculously loud when it came down the lines, so cool. After the outing I got to see the game from the dugout and just take in the magnitude of "The Fenway Park." The dramatic fashion that we won in couldn't have made my first game in Fenway any more memorable. The experience of being there was phenomenal!!
What have you done this offseason to prepare for spring training/the upcoming season?
This off season has been work, work, and work. I went to a strength camp for 12 days in October and a five day camp in December, both of which pushed me and made me understand the extent at which I need to push myself daily. I just picked up a baseball [Monday, Dec. 29] to throw for the first time since my last outing in September. So this off season has been a steady dose of lifting and conditioning which should pay off coming down the stretch of the upcoming season.
You said that you didn't really pitch at all until you were 17. What made you realize that you had an ability and how did you hone it?
I didn't pitch until I was 17 mostly because I never had the interest. I was a quarterback in football and always wanted to be a D1 QB. After some trials in football, I started to take serious interest in baseball.
I broke my thumb my sophomore year playing 3rd base for our varsity baseball team and had to sit out until the upcoming summer when I knew I would play again. I would go to high school practice everyday and help as much as I could. In the down time at practice I would take a bucket of baseballs and throw into the bullpen net in order to keep my arm in shape for the summer season.
One day, I decided to play around a bit and pitch off the mound. I set a beat up, old metal folding chair on top the plate and started throwing. After many fastballs, I thought "let's see what its like to throw a breaking pitch." All the while I didn't think anyone was watching me do this, but my pitching coach was.
I broke off a few curveballs and my coach saw what he liked. He came over and said "throw that again." I did and it hit directly atop the seat of the chair. He looked at me and said "you are a pitcher now." I looked at him in somewhat disbelief and said "no way." My coach won the battle and my first appearance that summer was a relief appearance that I threw well in. From there it just took off and I tried to become a student and learn as much as I could. So here I sit today. Thanks coach!!
What would you say was your biggest baseball-related success of 2008? How about the one thing you realized you needed to work on the most?
Biggest success this summer was being able to locate my fastball, for the most part, and having good secondary pitches. I would say the biggest realization of the summer was that it's a long season and that I have to come to the park everyday ready to work.
There was a stretch, about 10 days, where I was just going through the motions and those 2-3 outings in August was where I struggled the most. I learned I have to be steady in my work habits to be successful at the professional level.
Which pitch in your arsenal do you have the most confidence in and why?
I am a fastball based pitcher and therefore my fastball is my best pitch and the one I have the most confidence in. I also have a lot of confidence in my curveball which is my out pitch and a pitch I can throw in any count.
What's your goal for the 2009 season?
My goal for the 2009 season is to have a steady and consistent work ethic and to pitch with all my pitches effectively throughout each outing. Also to be as good of a teammate to all of my teammates as I can possibly be and doing that to win games often. I would like to move up the system as the Red Sox determine that based on my performances.
So far in your short pro career, which of your teammates have you been really impressed with and how come?
The first guy who comes to mind is Kyle Weiland [Ed. Note: Kyle answered some questions at Fire Brand here.] because he has a consistent demeanor and pitches very effectively, great hammer!!
Mitch Denning is another guy who comes to mind who plays hard every game and never enters the locker room clean, always dirty after the game. Both of these guys are great teammates and very reliable guys.
Get anything good for the holidays?
My holidays were full of family and great times. The best gift I got was the time I got to spend with friends and family.
What's the one thing everyone should know about you?
IEnter text here. hope everyone learns that I am a genuine guy who works as hard as I can and that I will settle for nothing less than success as far as my talent will take me. I will strive to find my ceiling and hope that I don't until I reach the ultimate level of the major leagues.