Spring Q&A With Brad Holt

It's been a winter of hard work for Brad Holt

The 2009 season was one of peaks and valleys for Brad Holt. Holt, one of the organization's top pitching prospects, breezed through the High-A ball before running into inconsistencies and physical ailments in Double-A. However, Holt arrived in Port St. Lucie renewed, refreshed and ready to show that his initial struggles in Double-A are behind him.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: This is the second Spring Training you're involved in with this organization. What was your offseason like heading into camp and what has camp been like for you so far?

Brad Holt: I think this offseason has been a lot different. Coming off the way my season ended, this offseason has been a lot about learning and doing things differently after ending a season which didn't go exactly how I wanted it to. I got hurt after my first start in Binghamton. I felt pretty good for a while, but then at the end I started to struggle, my velocity dropped off a bit and then I got shut down at the end of the year with arm problems. I think all of that had to do with my conditioning from the offseason before which could have been better.

Last season my body started to hit a wall. My shoulder was getting weaker and that caused my elbow to tip over a little and I think that all was a factor of my conditioning from last offseason. I made sure to talk to a lot of people about how to handle my offseason better because it was an eye-opener of how important offseason conditioning is. My goal this past offseason was to get my body back in shape to where it was my first season and so that I can compete for a full season. Going into my first full season, I didn't really understand how much of a factor nutrition and keeping my body in shape was.

At first I couldn't get after it a whole lot because there was still some down time where I was still rehabbing my arm, but once I was cleared I got a personal trainer in Wilmington (North Carolina) for a while and worked out with him. I worked out with a former Milwaukee Brewer who gave me a lot of useful points. I talked with the Mets staff about training to get their feel of where I should be, and that helped me out a lot to get my body back in shape.

In January, I worked out at IMG Academy over in Bradenton, Florida. I did some of the toughest workouts I've ever done but it helped a lot. I could tell a big difference about my conditioning during Spring Training. My legs are a lot stronger. I'm able to repeat my deliver a lot more and it's been a big difference between this Spring Training and a year ago. The way my body feels has it made a lot easier to pitch. There's less soreness, more stamina in my arm. It's a night and day difference.

Inside Pitch: So after the troubles you had in Binghamton last season, there was an effort to delay the start of your throwing program? Did the organization decide to give your arm just a little more time to get back to full strength?

Holt: Last offseason I was really in the dark from the beginning because I didn't know what it would take to finish out the year strongly. My arm always feels good at the beginning of the year, but when I got down there last year I would really air out my arm in long toss and other workouts and go 100 percent. Looking back, that wasn't the way to go about it. To prepare for camp this year I talked to the coaches a lot about taking the proper steps to getting my arm in the right shape at the right pace for the season.

My throwing program itself was pushed back to make sure my arm was fully recovered which it has been. My arm feels great because I've taken it a lot easier this year. I didn't go 100 percent until the last couple weeks of camp. My first couple bullpens were free and easy, I wasn't letting anything go. My long tosses were aired out but not putting 100 percent into it as far as trying to throw hard. I took it slower.

Inside Pitch: You were invited to STEP (Spring Training Early Program) Camp where you got an opportunity for more one-on-one work with the coaches. What was opportunity like for you? How important was re-establishing your mechanics during that part of camp to get your set for the official start of Spring Training? Do you feel like your mechanics are back to where you want them to be at this point?

Holt: I think I've really figured out what's going on. There was a pretty good amount of work to do from where I was in Binghamton last year with my mechanics to getting ready for this season. What it came down to was repeating my delivery which I wasn't doing enough last year. I picked up a bad habit here and there and it just got away from me.

Coming down to STEP camp and having eyes on me and working with me helped a lot. I really feel like I got out of the bad habits and that my delivery is pretty clean compared to where it was when I got down here. Getting down here early helps out so much because it gave me a chance to break things down one piece at a time and get a feel for my mechanics. I'm feeling good about what my delivery is right now.

Inside Pitch: I know from seeing you and talking to you, you felt like your secondary stuff got away from you. Coming down to the last week or so of camp and getting closer to Opening Day, do you feel like your pitches are where you want them to be at this point?

Holt: My pitches are coming along great so far. It's not just the feel for my pitches, but I'm feeling a lot better about the way I'm mixing up my pitches. Through Spring Training, I developed a real good feel for my changeup and that's going to be a big part of my season. I've had a lot of success with my changeup against the hitters down here. My fastball command is good. I've been throwing it inside to right-handers and I'm improving throwing my fastball away to righties.

My curveball is also coming along too. I've been throwing it for strikes a lot more. There are still times where it will back up on me, but for the most part it's coming along very well. I'd say I've made the most strides with my changeup because I never really had one. It's become close to a plus pitch for me. I've been throwing all three pitches for strikes and that's a good sign.

Inside Pitch: You battled the setbacks last year, but you came out in camp and got drilled on the leg on a line drive from Lucas Duda. Did that take your breath away for a moment?

Holt: Whenever Duda steps into the box against me I know I'm facing a strong hitter who can really put the bat on the ball, and it's not the first time he's buzzed me. He's got a lot power and when he hit, I had no shot of getting out of the way. I tried to play it off like it didn't hurt and wanted to keep pitching, but it stiffened right up on me. It gave me a little bit of scare at first because it hit me right above the ankle. It scared me for a second because I didn't want to be setback again and miss time, but everything checked out and I didn't have to miss any time.

Inside Pitch: We still got a little bit more time before everyone packs up to report to their affiliates. What would you like to accomplish with the remaining time in camp to get you off to a good start in the regular season?

Holt: I just want to keep fine tuning everything. I want to make sure that my pitches are game ready and that I'm locating them. My command is pretty much there, it's just a matter of keeping everything there and that everything is strong enough to get me through the entire season. There's nothing really special left to do or main thing I need to work on. I just want to stay on top of everything I've been working on since I've been down here.

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