For the second time this winter, the Washington Nationals held a press conference at Nationals Park to introduce a significant free agent signing. Last time it was veteran catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, today it was free agent pitcher Jason Marquis, a 31-year-old right-handed veteran of ten MLB seasons, who put on the white home Nationals jersey, #21, and pulled on the red curly-W cap. In a thick New York accent that's sure to thrill all of the DC Faithful, the Manhasset, NY native introduced himself to the nation's capital's press corps:
Jason Marquis: "I just want to thank the Washington Nationals' organization for bringing me on board, this is an exciting time for myself and my family, you know everything we could dream of...to come here to an organization that has shown, you know, that they're looking to move forward and build this organization into a winning organization, and for me to be a part of this is a special moment in my career, and what I bring to table is someone, you know with a winning attitude, that hopefully could rub off on some of the young talent that they've brought in along with, you know, some of the other talent, myself, "Pudge", and just create a winning attitude here in Washington, and just looking forward to getting ready to start."
FULL Transcript after the JUMP?
• WASHINGTON NATIONALS/JASON MARQUIS PRESS CONFERENCE:
• Q: What is about Washington that intrigued you when all the NY papers had you going to NY?
Jason Marquis: "You know obviously like I said, they'rein a phase where they went out and made the improvements they need to become a winning team, whether it's, hopefully next year, you know, you see down the road in the future with guys like Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, you know, Cristian Guzman, Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn, you know, the list goes on. I think they just need a few more veteran presences, that have been there, been around winning teams, that could bring a winning attitude and just pass down lessons they've learned from each team they've played on, so it's an exciting time, it's something I'm proud to be a part of..."
• Q: How do you see your role on the team? What kind of leader are you in the locker room? Vocal, lead by example?
Jason Marquis: "You know, it's a combination of both. You've gotta know your teammates, who can be spoken to, who comes to you. You know, I've been in their shoes before. I've looked up to the likes of Maddux, Glavine or Smoltz, and learned a lot of valuable lessons from them, not only on the field, but off the field. But on the field, they're going to see a guy who gives it everything they got, there's no let up. I play the game to win. And that's about it. So hopefully they can feed off what I do in-between starts, feed off what I do on the mound, and apply it to themselves. I'm open ears, open arms, and any advice that I could be there for them and give any helpful hints, that's what I'm about."
• Q: How have you changed as a pitcher in recent years?
Jason Marquis: " Well, you know, sometimes in this game there are failures, you gotta learn from past experiences and why they didn't work, and I'm always striving to be better, and I'm still that way til today, always looking for ways to get better, to improve, and you know, that's what I've learned throughout this game, that, you know, either you gotta make the adjustment or not or you won't be around, and I went from a guy that was a four-seam guy back in Atlanta, went over to St. Louis and learned how to throw a sinker and it benefitted my career, but as each stop goes by, you learn what you're capable and what you're not capable of doing and that's what I've been about..."
• Q: Talk about learning that sinker?
Jason Marquis: "It's a pitch that I always felt comfortable throwing, from Little League to high school, to the minor leagues and even when I got to the big leagues, but a pitching coach stressed the importance of it in terms of going deeper into games, lower pitch count, it's a contact pitch...instead of trying to be the guy that's trying to have guys swing and miss all the time it's more of a mis-hit pitch, it allows me to get deeper into games, take stress off the bullpen, and just gives me and my team a better chance to win."
• Q: After a strong first half, you struggled in the second half last year, have you thought about why?
Jason Marquis: "I always sit back and try to see what I can do better when the season ends, and you try to come up with a game plan, it could be anywhere from a physical standpoint to a mental standpoint, maybe doing too much in-season with working out, or knowing when to pick your spots, when to relax and give your body a little more rest and recovery time. I think I've made some mental notes, and wrote them down, I think I've come up with ideas that are going to help me get through the month of September. You know it's a trial by error, I can't say in September I'm going to go 6-0, but I'm going to try to 6-0, I'm going to do everything in my power to go 6-0."
• Q: So it's not a fatigue factor?
Jason Marquis: "No, my arm feels just as healthy in April and May as it did in September. I think it came more down to a location, pitch selection type of situation, and you just have to go back and watch film and try to have mental notes about how you felt with the combo of everything..."
• Q: Have you had a chance to talk to any of the other DC starters?
Jason Marquis: "Well, not yet. I did speak to John (Lannan) last year, after a game here, a couple of players just met out afterwards, and he was saying how he felt...he loved it here, obviously John's put up (two pretty) good seasons here the last two years, you know, obviously his first two years in the big leagues, and...he was looking for a veteran to be around to help him lead his staff, you know sometimes it's asking a lot for a first-year, second-year player to lead a pitching staff, but he's done a great job of it, and hopefully I can add to that and get these guys, you know, make them better, get them to where they need to be, and just learn more about the game and winning games."
• Q: With all the young arms here, how good can this staff be?
Jason Marquis: "You know, there's a lot of potential, you know, there's a lot of potential around baseball, a lot of guys with ability that just haven't learned how to use it. I think sometimes people get stuck on numbers, ERA, instead of losing sight of winning ballgames, and that's something that i've learned that, whether you win the game 10-9, 2-1, 1-0, whatever it might be, the ultimate goal is to win ballgames, and that's how you get to the next level, get your team to the playoff which is the ultimate goal, and sometimes people lose sight of that."
Q: You were part of the Braves' 1990's roster, what was it like then?
Jason Marquis: "It was an exciting time, I was real young, and thought I'd never get a chance with the names of the pitchers on that big league staff, but you've got to stick to what you believe in, work hard, and uh, you know, in the minor leagues they preach development, you know really to get you prepared for the big leagues, but once I got up there, like I mentioned the names before, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Millwood, ah, Steve Avery was around, guys with experience, with history of winning, you know, they were there to help you win ballgames, help you to get over the hump, and become a great major league pitcher. You know, they really taught you to be yourself, don't try to be like them, you know, be yourself, try to find who you are, more on the mound, but also the preparation it took in-between starts, to become a great major league pitcher, and that's going from working hard in the weight room, working hard with the trainers, watching film, coming up with scouting reports, so I learned a lot from these guys, and that's one of the reasons I'm here today."
• Q: Do you pride yourself on being an innings-eater?
Jason Marquis: "I take pride in taking the ball every fifth day. I mean "innings eater"? I wouldn't say that, I want to throw quality innings, I don't want to just go out there and get beat up and throw innings at the same time, I want to throw quality innings and give my team a chance to win every single day or every time I take the ball, and it's a pride factor, not allowing my self, my body, to break down and not give my team a chance to win, I feel like I let my team down if I'm not there for them, so uh, that stems back from when I was a kid, the competitive edge that i've always had, you know, not wanting to lose, not wanting to give in, not wanting to be on the field drives me to work hard and do better day by day."
• Q: Was there any one thing someone said to you that convinced you to come to the Nationals?
Jason Marquis: "You know, I follow baseball, I'm a baseball fan, I follow teams, what direction they're going, what moves they make, what needs they...what they're looking for, but ultimately, Mike (Rizzo) and the Nationals showed the interest that they want Jason Marquis, and that's a huge factor that goes into it, being in a place where you feel wanted, where they have your back from day one, and that's one of the many reasons why I came here..."
• Q: Did the fact that you're a good hitter make you want to stay in the NL?
Jason Marquis: "A little bit, I mean Mike (Rizzo) threw a few clauses in there for plate appearances, no, I'm joking. I feel like, it's another dimension to the game that can help you win a ballgame. I take pride in my hitting, I take pride in my baserunning, I take pride in my bunting, and those are just one of many things that can help you win a ballgame, you know I could, over these last six years, I could say seven or eight times maybe, my bat or my legs have helped me win a ballgame, or a team win a ballgame and that little difference on my end as opposed to somebody who doesn't take pride in that, and even if you get the other four starters on board, that's the difference of winning 70 games to 80 games, 80 games to 90 games, and like I said, that's the type of attitude that I'm going to try to bring to this team."