SoxProspects News

July 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Q&A with Stephen Fife


The Red Sox drafted Stephen Fife out of Utah in the third round of the 2008 draft. Fife was a middle reliever to start his career at Utah but moved into the starting rotation for the 2008 season. As a starter, Fife developed a reputation as a work horse and gained a lot of draft momentum late in the summer. He came down with some weakness in his throwing shoulder to start the 2009 season and was held out of game action to start the year, but upon returning, he had a very successful stint with Greenville before moving up to Salem where continues to excel. Aaron Schwam of SoxProspects.com recently caught up with Fife to ask him a couple questions.

Aaron Schwam: What was your draft-day experience like?
Stephen Fife: I went home from college at Utah and spent draft day with family and my closest friends. We all got together at a local sports pub and watched the first round on ESPN and the rest via the internet on a big screen TV. I wasn’t sure where I would fall in the draft, but I thought I would go on the first day. We waited for names to pop up, and just before my name was announced my phone blew up with texts from my coaches at Utah and a few others. I reached for my phone and as I did, my name was anounced in the resturant and everyone went nuts. It was a day I will never forget. There were plenty of emotions from laughter to tears. It was a great day.

AS: Were you surprised when you were picked by the Red Sox?
SF: No, I was not surprised the Red Sox drafted me. (Red Sox Utah area scout) Matt Mahoney was my scout and he called me the day before the draft and we talked seriously about (the Red Sox selecting me in) the draft. When the third round started, I had a feeling that it was about my time and thought I would be selected by the Red Sox or the White Sox with the eighth or ninth picks in the round. I was ecstatic about being drafted by the defending World Champions and the Red Sox organization.

AS: What are your developmental goals for this season? Have you set any for yourself or have the Red Sox laid out any for you?
SF: I want to prove that I am a true 3-4 pitch starting pitcher. I worked really hard this off-season getting strong and working on my pitches, especially my change-up. The Red Sox want to see me improve my change-up and become precise with my curveball before I throw my slider. I am still working on those goals, and feel like I might be able to introduce the slider by the end of this season. My goals are the same as the organization's goals for me. I just want to develop by doing what they ask of me and I want to win. I think if I keep working on reaching their goals, promotions and success will come.

AS: How would you describe each pitch and how you use them?
SF: Yeah, as I was saying, they want me to throw three quality pitches and have command of those: a fastball (mostly a two-seam fastball with good sink), a curveball, and a change-up. I usually only throw my four-seam fastball off the plate to the glove side and when I want to elevate out of the zone. In a normal start, I use all three pitches and I have been pleased with my progression this season, especially with my change-up.

AS: Which pitch do you feel is your best? How do you go about sharpening the pitches you need to work on?
SF: Everything I do on the mound is based off my fastball and I feel that it is my best pitch, although my curveball and change-up have been great this year. I have been surprised with the success I have had with my change-up. I feel that I have developed a second strikeout pitch to go along with my curveball. I work on my fastball and change-up everyday while playing catch and doing flat-ground work. I throw my change-up from 90 feet with a crow hop after throwing my fastball from 90-120 feet. It helps me keep my arm speed up and find a feel with my front side. In side sessions, I just try to find a rhythm and pitch. Different days force you to make adjustments, so it's just a matter of recognizing the result you are getting with each pitch and making minor adjustments without over-analyzing. It can be difficult, but it comes down to me trusting myself to do what I know I can do.

AS: What kind of MLB pitcher do you see yourself becoming and why?
SF: I see myself as a starter. I like the five-day routine and feel that I have the mental and physical ability to get through a line-up multiple times in a game. I have heard from scouts and analysts that I could become a number three or four starter. That's what I strive to become, but I have also heard people project me as a closer because I have a good curveball. Only time will tell, but I see myself starting for a long time.

AS: What has been the easiest/hardest part about transitioning to pro life in the minors?
SF: The hardest has been adjusting to throwing everyday. In college, we had a couple days off and more days of rest. Getting into a strict five-day routine has been the biggest adjustment for me. The easiest part has been enjoying what I do. I love this game and enjoy everything about the Red Sox organization. My teammates and coaches, as well as the front office staff, have been awesome and made my experience great. The easiest thing to do for me is come to the park everyday and enjoy it.

AS: Has any member of the organization made a positive impression on you and helped you get better?
SF: Coach (Gary) DiSarcina and (Tom) Goodwin in Lowell have been great. We have talked a lot and I have learned countless things about this game from them. Bob Kipper in Greenville was a tremendous help to me as a pitcher. I try to listen to anyone who has done what I am doing and to take something from them that I can use at some point in my career.

AS: Who is Stephen Fife? What do you like to do off the field?
SF:
I am just a hard-working kid from Boise, Idaho, who has been given a gift and is trying to make the most of it. I love this game and am very driven to get to the highest level. I am very competitive, but I enjoy having a good time with teammates and friends. Off the field I like to fish and golf and spend time with my buddies and family. I love the outdoors and don’t like to sit idle too often.

AS: Bonus question: We've noticed you like to sport glasses on the mound. Is there any particular reason or story there?
SF:
I don’t have great vision due to astigmatism. I never had good luck with contacts and don’t mind wearing the glasses. I see 20/12 with them and that makes me want to keep them around. It’s nothing crazy, I just find them more comfortable and better than contacts.

 
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