YGY Radio Show Exclusive: Justin Wilson Interview
By Ricky Keeler
On this episode of the Yanks Go Yard Radio Show, brought to you by KNODA.com, we had the privilege to speak with one of the newest members of the Bronx Bombers. Last week, the New York Yankees made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates as they sent Francisco Cervelli to Pittsburgh. In return, New York received a 27-year-old lefty reliever back by the name of Justin Wilson.
Last season, Wilson made 70 appearances, pitching to a 4.20 ERA, striking out 61 batters in 60 innings of work. Wilson was the fifth Round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 MLB Draft out of Fresno State Bulldogs. During his time in college, he was on the Bulldogs’ team that won the College World Series in 2008 in a three-game series over Georgia.
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In 2013, Wilson made 58 appearances with the Pirates and went 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA. While the walks are a tad high (28 and 30 in the past two seasons), he is a pitcher who can rack up the strikeouts with his mid 90’s fastball. Last season, he had a 9.15 K/9 IP. The one thing that stands out about Wilson during his 2014 season is that the lefty had a better batting average against vs. righties last season (.201) compared to lefties (.253).
While most Yankee fans are probably not familiar with Wilson, he did make an appearance at Yankee Stadium last season against New York, pitching a 1-2-3 eighth inning back on May 18 in a 4-3 Yankees win. This includes Wilson being able to get Derek Jeter to ground out to second base during the game.
Here are some of the topics that I discussed with Wilson, including the high praise he gave Russell Martin as a teammate, who signed a five-year, $82 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday:
- Where was Wlison when he found out he was traded?
- The decision by him to go out and buy a Yankee hat after he was traded!
- His experience playing with the Pirates as they have made it to the postseason each of the last two seasons
- Did winning the College World Series help him during his development as a player?
- The adjustments that Wilson made from 2013 to 2014: keeping fewer hitters off the bases and mixing in offspeed pitches
- Confidence growing from more appearances with Pittsburgh this past season?
- Off-season adjustments that might help him in his transition to the American League involving his changeup
- Does his mindset on attacking hitters change depending on if it’s a lefty or righty?
- Who were his favorite players/favorite teams as a kid?
- What was the moment like for Wilson to face Jeter at Yankee Stadium last year, including Jeter signing some things for Wilson.
- His message to Yankees’ fans: “Everything’s better when you win.”