BRADENTON (93-7 The Fan) — Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke sat down with 93-7 The Fan’s Dan Zangrilli at Spring Training this week for an interview that aired on Wednesday’s edition of “The Fan Morning Show.”
Locke certainly had a whirlwind 2013 season, posting an All-Star first half before regressing in the second half, while battling a back injury. He was eventually shut down before the playoffs began.
“I mean, I really can’t sit here and say I didn’t see the best the big leagues has to offer and also the worst the big leagues has to offer,” Locke said. “I learned a lot from the struggles.”
He sees his back issues as the primary reason that things began to go wrong for him last season.
“How I handled myself when things were great and how I handled myself when things were tough – really, I feel like they were very similar,” Locke said. “After I tweaked my back a little bit, I changed some of the things that I was doing just to make myself capable to walk out there every fifth day.”
He feels that the injury didn’t hamper his actual delivery so much as it affected him over the days leading up to a start.
“It was really just modifications in preparation,” Locke said. “Everything physically changed. My work during the week changed. We got to the point where what was important was that I could take the ball every five days. When I hurt my back, some things got modified a little bit to take some stress off that, and by doing that, I think I got away from a little bit of what made me successful during the week, everything from the way my bullpens feel to the way my body feels on a daily basis.”
Locke started preparing for the 2014 season all the way back in November in order to move past that bump in the road.
“I’m just excited this year to really close that book on last year, and just look forward for a healthy ’14,” Locke said.
He feels much better now and believes that he’s in a position to bounce back this year.
“Everything feels great,” Locke said. “[I was] able to get myself in here a little earlier this year and really just keep continuing building strength. I think maybe the reason my back did hurt last year is because I lost a little strength, or I got tired down in the end and the fatigue kicked in. If I can keep my body in the best shape I can for 162 games, then I feel like I’ll put myself in a great position.”
As for A.J. Burnett, Locke talked to him a lot over the course of the offseason, and the two even spent some time together at Burnett’s home.
Locke knew that Burnett was going to do what was best for himself and his family, but that motive didn’t manifest itself quite the way that Locke had expected it to.
“We all knew that A.J. was going to do what was best for A.J.,” Locke said. “We all thought that, really, that it was going to be coming back to Pittsburgh. But it goes to show you that we don’t always know everything, either.”
Locke is happy that Burnett will have the opportunity to spend more time with his family while continuing to play, and he told the guys that Burnett is definitely going to be missed around the clubhouse.
“He was a big part of everything I did last year,” Locke said. “As long as A.J. was around, there was a chance for you to gain some knowledge and to get some tips from him. He’s a really extremely big part of the progress that this organization has been able to make over the past few years.”
The interview can be heard here: