What is it like for you to come back to Chapel Hill for this event?
“It is always fun to come back. I loved my time here and any opportunity or chance, I will be here. It is fun to see the guys and to see the buildings and the stadium is incredible that they have now and the changes in the football stadium is impressive.”
Can you discuss your decision to re-sign with the Red Sox and compete for a spot in the starting rotation this season?
“To be honest with you it was not a tough decision. Once that option was on the table I was going to take it. I enjoyed my time there last year and would love to make it a long term kind of thing. The opportunity was there and I am happy to have it. My goal is to go down there and pitch well and earn a spot and help the team win.”
What advice did you have for Daniel Bard in his transition from relieving to starting?
“Honestly he did not ask me and I did not expect him to. Daniel has started before and Daniel started here at Carolina. I think he will come up with his routine and if he asks me questions I would love to help him out and be there for him but he knows what he is doing. All in all you have to get the hitter out at the plate and he is pretty good at that.”
What is it like from your perspective seeing the current players at this event looking up to you all as Major League players?
“I don’t think they look up to us. I think that is fun coming in here seeing big Carolina fans and getting to talk with them and hearing their memories and sharing my memories and seeing the footage from the College World Series on the TV's. Some great memories and I love this place.”
What is it like coming back to Chapel Hill and seeing the new Boshamer Stadium?
“Coming back to Chapel Hill has been a great experience. It has been a while since I have been back so a lot of things have changed. The new Bosh and a lot of new buildings on campus and the Blue Zone. Everything I experienced when I was here as a student and a baseball player was incredible and very fond memories. Now to come back and see everything how it is a few years later and how things have changed for the better 20-fold - it is awesome.”
How was the experience of finding out that you were traded from the Rockies to the Angels?
“This offseason getting traded - when it first happened I was a little unsure just because it was the first time that it happened. The Rockies were all that I knew and I had a lot of good friends there and made a lot of good relationships there. But I got traded to a team that is a perennial winning program playing for a manager who was a catcher in Mike Scioscia, who has the reputation that he has. And the opportunity in front of me to play as much as they want me to and to hit in a spot in the lineup that is not behind the pitcher - I am excited.”
Can you discuss the Angels other off season moves?
“When I got traded I knew that I was going to a good team. Then they bring in one of the best hitters if not the best hitter in the game in Albert Pujols as well as a Gold Glove first baseman, then they bring in C.J. Wilson, who is one of the top free agent pitchers on the market, to complement to a staff comprised with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana. It was all a dream and extremely positive.”
How about seeing some of the pitchers you caught your final season in Chapel Hill being here?
“It is great. My junior year I had Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller on the staff as freshmen. You could see how talented they were. They were immediate impacts on the program and you knew that in a few years they would be some of the top pitchers in the country. Then seeing what they have done since then has been great. Obviously I got a chance to catch Alex White in the big leagues for a couple of months last season, that was great as well.”
What's been your take in coming back to Chapel Hill for the sold out First Pitch Banquet in the Blue Zone of Kenan Stadium?
“It has been great so far. First class. They have treated us a great as we can imagine - just taking care of all of the details on us getting here fine and putting us up in a hotel. It has been great. Just seeing how much this event has grown since when I was here. I think there was maybe a hundred people that showed up and very few former players at that time. Now you have upwards of 500 people and 30 or 40 former players. It is awesome. Guys want to stay involved in the program.”
What was it like getting a chance to pitch with your former college teammate in Boston last season with the Red Sox?
“It has been great having Andrew [there]. Last year before they signed him one of the assistant GM’s called me and asked what I had on this guy and I told them everything I knew about him. How dominant he was in college and how he had enormous potential just waiting and ready to come out. They said, 'Well that is exactly what we thought.' Three hours later they announced that they signed him. So I was pumped as he is a friend of mine and we go way back. It was fun and our wives have become good friends and everything. So it is good to have someone who has taken the same path as you.”
What has your offseason been like with the opportunity to compete for a starting position in the rotation this season for the Red Sox?
“I am excited about it. It is something I brought up to the team and they kind of liked the idea of it and we ran with it. My preparation has not changed a whole lot, just more mentally just getting the thought processes going with starting. I think it is a great opportunity for me and I am confident that it is going to work out or I would not be doing it. It was my idea and I told them we would make it work.”
Have you been working on featuring any more pitches in preparing to start?
“I already throw four pitches as it is -- four seam, two seam, breaking ball and a change up. I think if I can locate those four and move them around in the zone that is going to be enough for me. I think I will use the change up a little more going through the lineup two and three times a game. It will be fun. I am excited to get a chance to play with it.”
How's the manager transition been from Terry Francona to now getting to know Bobby Valentine?
“Well Tito is very respected and a great player manager from everything I experienced as far as I got to know him. I don’t know Bobby well but I have talked with him twice on the phone. He seems like an easy guy to get along with and seems like he has great energy in everything he does. I am sure that will translate to the Red Sox. I am excited to get to know him and it will be a new page for the Red Sox but Tito will be missed as well. It is a new regime for the Red Sox.”