Collin Balester is on Twitter, (@ballystar40), (where he raced DC left-hander John Lannan (@JLannan31) to 500 followers and kept fans of the Washington Nationals updated on his offseason activities this winter), he used to write Bally's Blog at the Nationals' official site, and this past weekend he launched his own blog, CollinBalester.com. I've been following the Washington Nationals' 23-year-old right-hander's progression through the DC system since Montreal made the then-18-year-old pitcher out of Huntington Beach, California, the Expos' 2004 4th Round pick, (taking him 114th overall as part of the last Expos' draft class after having selected left-hander Bill Bray, catcher Erick San Pedro and infielder Ian Desmond in the previous three rounds), so I was thrilled when he agreed to take part in the email interview which follows:
Federal Baseball (FB): Do you want to join the chorus of voices calling for Orlando Hudson to sign in DC? How would you sell Washington to any free agents who asked about playing for the Nationals?
Collin Balester: "Yeah, I mean to have a chance to get a player like the O-Dog would be awesome, I mean he is a sick player and he would fit in our clubhouse real easy, he's a good guy, funny, loose and easy to get along with. I wouldn't have to tell him or sell the Nationals too much. Players see how we play and they know that we are very close to turning this around, and I'm sure that he would love to be a part of it when we do turn it around."
FB: Are you excited about getting to work with Pudge Rodriguez? Is it at all intimidating to pitch to a future Hall of Fame catcher?
Collin Balester: "Yes. Definitely. I mean its going to be an awesome experience to be able to work with a future Hall of Fame catcher. Not only is it going to be awesome for him to call the pitches but also he is going to help the catchers we have and make them better and give them tips that they need to become the catchers they want to be."
FB: As someone who has been a part of this franchise since 2004, what are the biggest differences you've noticed over the last few years since the move from Montreal?
Collin Balester: "I have been lucky enough to be one of the last players that has been around since 2004 and it feels good to be able to stick around with a team this long when in today's day and age so many people are getting traded around everywhere. This Org has had lots of people in charge that make it easy to be a player and they just let you play and they take care of everything off the field, there have been many changes and everyone has done a good job of keeping it the same."
FB: Are you sentimental at all about the Expos since you were a member of their last draft class? I'd like to see the Montreal years represented in DC somehow...What do you think of an Expos Day, where you don the powder blues and the tri-color caps?
Collin Balester: "Yes. I always say that, I like being the last draft class in Expos' history. Makes me feel pretty cool haha, and that would be awesome If we had a couple days of throw back and kinda give some love to Montreal seeing that it is where we all started, I am a big fan of that idea."
FB: I definitely had you penciled in as part of the '09 rotation before Spring Training last season, have you given any thought to what you think went wrong? Are you planning to do anything different this time around?
Collin Balester: Last year I think I went in with the mind set that I had the spot and nothing could get in my way, which is not a bad mind set, but I kinda just let one bad start get to me and it messed up my whole spring. This year I have the best attitude going into spring and I feel like last year only made me stronger and better on and off the field, I will be ready to compete when I get to Melbourne.
(to be continued)...
Coming up this morning at 11:00 am EST: Collin Balester Interview - Part 2 of 2: Topics - A possible switch to the bullpen; a new pitch; baseball as a job; getting #40 back; the new blog; and offseason goals...