In an effort to produce better and more unique content about the Pittsburgh Pirates, Buried Treasure has reached out to members of the Pirates organization for interviews. The response was awesome, starting with our first volunteer, Pirates farmhand and pitcher Michael Colla. Moving into the future, the hope is to have more interviews similar to this one. This particular interview with Michael Colla is after the jump. Enjoy!
Buried Treasure: Okay, looking back at the beginning of your professional career, the Pirates – a organization considered somewhat of a laughingstock – draft you. Were you at all worried about joining the Pittsburgh Pirates?
Michael Colla: No, I definitely wasn't. The Pirates made it clear they were doing everything in their power to rebuild and to bring back a winner to the city of Pittsburgh. I was excited to be drafted by the Pirates organization.
BT: Moving to the subject of you as a baseball player, can you describe to me your pitch arsenal so we have it straight from the horse's mouth?
MC: I throw a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a circle changeup, and a slider.
BT: Okay, with your four-seamer, what kind of heat can you typically bring? Which offspeed pitch is your best?
MC: Typically I range anywhere from 89-93 on the four-seam fastball and I use my changeup a lot.
BT: Do you have a favorite go-to pitch?
MC: Actually, I wouldn't say I have a favorite pitch. I just enjoy the chess match of pitching itself; the competition it brings out between yourself and the hitter. I do love that feeling you get when you execute a change-up correctly or throw a good sinker.
BT: Let's talk a bit about your performance on the field the past few years. The past two seasons, you've pitched for the Altoona Curve. In 2011 you started and pitched well. In 2012, you struggled a bit until moving the bullpen where you were borderline dominant. Have the Pirates indicated where they plan to use you in the future. Do you have a preference?
MC: I like doing it all to be perfectly honest. I would have to say, best guess, that I have more value as a reliever so that's probably the route I will take when it comes to going to Triple-A and beyond. Ultimately, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get to PNC and not just get there, but stay there and help the team win.
BT: Well here's hoping that happens and sooner rather than later.
BT: Pitching in both the rotation and the bullpen, can you describe any differences in approaching both roles, particularly in your mindset?
MC: As a starter you have that one day every five days to go out there and help your time. It's much more about pitching and not getting into any patterns so when you face a hitter for the third or fourth time in a game you still have an advantage. The schedule and routine of it is much more certain. You know when you're throwing, who you're pitching against so you can mentally prepare earlier for who you'll be facing.
As a reliever, you never know when you will get your name called so you go out there with your best stuff that particular day and try and get outs as quickly as possible. You don't hold anything back and you don't worry about pitching five, six, seven innings, so you just air it out.
BT: What have you been doing this offseason to prepare for the season? What are your goals for this season?
MC: I've been working out as hard as I can to get myself in the best shape for the grind of the season. My goals are to start in Triple-A and then at some point break into the big leagues.
BT: Piggy-backing on your answer, have the Pirates indicated to you where you will start the 2013 season? Is so, where? If not, where do you expect to start?
MC: No, nothing has really been said. Hopefully, I have done enough in their opinion to get out of Altoona and take that next step. Guess I'll find out in the next couple of months.
BT: Of the home parks you've played in during your time in the Pirates organization, do you have a favorite?
MC: Altoona's park is the best I've played in. Overall the atmosphere is pretty awesome, the field is great, and the locker room is nice.
BT: The big and potentially overblown story of the past season outside of the major league collapse has been the Hoka Hey “circus.” Can you and will you comment on that?
MC: You know what? I can't. I really wasn't a part of it so I can't comment. I can tell you, ever since I have been in this organization they have gone above and beyond to bring in and do things for us as players to help us win.
BT: Have you ever felt that the Pirates put you in a situation where the risk of injury was unnecessarily high?
MC: No, no, never.
BT: Do you have any stories about playing or your teammates. Here's your opportunity to poke fun at someone.
MC: Haha, I do man, but nothing I can really divulge. Just an unwritten rule in the clubhouse.
BT: Switching to non-baseball subjects, you went to the University of Arizona. How about the football team? They won a bowl game under new coach Rich Rodriguez. Do you have any impressions on him or on the football team?
MC: I'm happy for the program. When I went there, they weren't that good. Being an alum it's pretty cool they got back to a bowl game and could pull off a come from behind win like they did.
BT: How about the basketball team? Ranked #6 in the country and back in the upper echelon of college hoops. Do you have any comments? Do you have expect a Final Four run?
MC: Man, it would be great to see them in the Final Four. I still remember the Elite Eight loss to Illinois. I think they are good enough to make that type of run for sure.
BT: One last question. Will you be watching the Super Bowl? Will you be rooting for either team? Do you have a prediction?
MC: I grew up a Niners fan, so that question is very easy to answer. I am picking Niners all the way. I used to attend games with my grandpa so the Niners are a pretty cool memory for me and definitely a family team.
Buried Treasure would like to thank Michael Colla for being such a good sport and putting up with the interview above. Buried Treasure would also like to wish Michael Colla the best of luck this coming season and add that we expect to see him pitching in PNC Park soon.