Gregorian Chants

Jeremy Guthrie dishes on college, Salvador Perez, pitching in the National League

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie practiced his bunting during practice on Friday.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie practiced his bunting during practice on Friday. The Kansas City Star

Because of his thorough and colorful answers, Royals’ pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was a popular media topic after his news conference on Thursday in advance of game three of the World Series tonight.

At one point, he offered an approximately 825-word response to a question from The Star about the perspective he gained from missionary work 15 years ago that we delved into in today’s column.

But with first pitch still a few hours away, here’s some of what we had to leave on the cutting-room floor.

▪ On once pitching 13 innings for Stanford in a game against Cal State Fullerton: Stanford’s way, he said, was “you get the ball at the start, and it’s your game to lose or win. I think that taught me a lot about myself both in the good games as well as the struggles.

“It teaches you to have a goal to finish the game, and to get deep and understand the impact that can have on your team. So those have been foundations for whatever I’ve been able to accomplish as a professional as well. …

“I had thrown nine innings and coach (Mark) Marquess looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to keep going.’ It was the 10th: ‘You’re going to keep going.’ It was the 11th: ‘You’re going to keep going.’

“Twelfth, 13th, at which point he said, ‘I think you’re done.’ And we ended up scoring a run. So I threw a 13-inning complete game.

“Four days before the draft. Scott Boras my agent, or advisor at that time, was there, and I don’t think he was anticipating or hoping for 13 innings that close to the draft. But it was 147 pitches.

“Again, it was a reflection of competing to the end, it’s yours to win, and watching kind of the pitchers pitch by pitch, and seeing how they’re doing versus kind of letting the number dictate when they were going to be taken out.”

▪ On the notion that playing under National League rules at AT&T Park might create the opposite impact … getting pulled earlier than he normally would if the need for a pinch-hitter arises: “That’s something that none of us (as pitchers) wants, but we’ll all accept. Whenever you’re taken out of the game, for the most part you’re wanting to go through it and you’re wanting to push further.

“So the big thing will hopefully we can hold them to zeros on our end, and get a few runs that will allow (manager Ned Yost) to be a little more aggressive with what we can do with as starters.

“My goal is to put up zeros. If I put up zeros, I have a chance to stay in. If I don’t, I’m going to be taken out, whether it’s a National League ballpark or not. So that’s got to be the focus for me is, what can I do to put up zeros against a good hitting team?”

▪ On the value of catcher Salvador Perez: “I think his No. 1 unique attribute, aside from his talent, which I think puts him with the elite catchers in the league, is his energy and his excitement, his demeanor. Always very happy-go-lucky, no matter the situation, men on base, cruising, not cruising. He’s always very positive. Has a smile on his face. ‘You can do it, pop. You can do it.’

“That builds confidence in the pitcher when you know he believes in you, and he’s pushing for you to get over whatever obstacles are in your way. I think his talent speaks for itself. I anticipate he would win another Gold Glove this year, and I anticipate he’ll have a lot of those by the time he’s done playing.”

▪ On dealing with the fickleness of critics, particularly in the wake of his two-year mission to Spain: “I remember a number of articles saying, ‘This kid’s very mature, this kid is this, this kid is that because of his mission.’ And when I pitched poorly for three years, (then) I was not a good pitcher, and ‘the two years off hurt me, and baseball wasn’t important to me and church was more important.’

“So I’ve seen that. So when I pitch and there is something written or something said or there is a perception, I understand … a lot of those reactions just automatically flip over even though nothing has really changed except the result.”

▪ On why he didn’t feel like his career was in jeopardy in Colorado in 2012, when his ERA was 6.35 in 15 starts before being traded to Kansas City, where he cut is ERA in half (3.15) in his last 14 starts: “I didn’t feel like I was at a crossroads. I just was not pitching very well, at least at home. Really struggled to get people out and get into any rhythm. But I felt like my velocity was there, and I felt like the pitch quality in terms of the action on the pitches was going to be more than fine, if I could just get into a rhythm and get some momentum going on my side.”

To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to vgregorian@kcstar.com.

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