PORT ST. LUCIE FL - FEBRUARY 24: Michael O'Connor #50 of the New York Mets poses for a portrait during the New York Mets Photo Day on February 24 2011 at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie Florida. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Listen in for a quick chat I recently had with Mets LOOGY-candidate Mike O'Connor. O'Connor figures in as a dark horse along with Taylor Tankersley behind clear leader Tim Byrdak. There are also lefties Chris Capuano and Pat Misch to contend with though both look to be vying for other roles. But don't overlook the 29-year old O'Connor who posted a sterling 2.67 ERA after switching to full-time relief work in 2010.
Click on the 'Play' button below to listen in as Mike and I discussed initial reactions of his first in-game appearance, the LOOGY battle, playing for Ken Oberkfell and more!
Read beyond the break for the transcript:
Rob: We’re just coming off the first intra-squad game of the year and you were out there throwing today; how did it feel?
O’Connor: I felt all right the first time, a little up with the fastball but after that I felt like the second inning I started throwing more strikes. I felt a lot better in the second inning. I felt like I threw OK.
Rob: And in general, how has camp been for you so far?
O’Connor: It’s been good. I think at this point we’re ready to get started with the games. We’ve been working out and I think everybody’s ready to move on to the games and start getting ready for the season.
Rob: Now I wanted to get into your 2010 a bit because you spent the year with Buffalo and you ended up having a really good year. What was that like for you spending the year down there?
O’Connor: It was a good season. I was kind of…last year was the first time I’d been a full-time reliever for the whole season for a few years. So making that transition, I think the first half was getting comfortable and then once I got in the routine of things, things started going a lot better and the second half was really good for me.
Rob: Again speaking about this camp, there’s a bit of a competition as far as the lefty relievers go. The team lost Pedro Feliciano, their old lefty reliever and now that job is kind of open; is that something that you’re keeping in the back of your mind as you go out there and pitch every day?
O’Connor: I mean I’m definitely doing everything I can to try to make this team, until they tell me differently. I feel like if I go out there and pitch, everything will take care of itself. I don’t put anymore pressure on myself than I would doing anything else.
Rob: One thing that I wanted to ask you, with the big club this year is your Manager from Buffalo, Ken Oberkfell. Now you spent a whole year with him last year, what can you tell us about him and his style?
O’Connor: He’s pretty easy going. I think he’s laid back and the thing he did, he really did a good job last year of putting me in chances where I was comfortable. He knows everybody on this team, he’s managed everybody…a lot of the guys that have come up through the system here. So I mean he’s familiar with everybody and I think that’s going to be a plus for this team.
Rob: One more, I just wanted to ask you if you’ve got any expectations or goals coming into 2011 that you’ve set for yourself? O’Connor: Just continue to work hard and that’s it. That’s all I can do as a baseball player is really just focus on yourself, not what other people decide and what happens. Just do everything I can to help
Rob: One more, I just wanted to ask you if you’ve got any expectations or goals coming into 2011 that you’ve set for yourself?
O’Connor: Just continue to work hard and that’s it. That’s all I can do as a baseball player is really just focus on yourself, not what other people decide and what happens. Just do everything I can to help