After an introductory press conference at Nationals Park in which new DC closer Matt Capps was officially handed his home white #55 Nationals jersey and his red curly-W cap, the 26-year-old right-hander took a few minutes to participate in a conference call with members of the internet media. What follows is the transcript of that phone call: (ed. note - "I had to record this while on the road, so since I thought it was hilarious when Washington Post writer Chico Harlan said it a few days back, I think I'm about 93-94% accurate in this transcript, with any sound issues noted where they occured, worst of all was the fact that my phone kept chiming with Twitter messages from the Twittering class of Nats fans out there...")
Q: How important is it for you to be the closer in Washington?
Matt Capps: It was something that was important in my decision, I'm not opposed to throwing more than one inning, if that's what you were alluding to, coming in before the beginning of the ninth inning, I'm not opposed to that at all, I've done that a few times in my career, I don't have a problem doing it, it goes back to if Jim Riggleman wants me to play shortstop, I'll play shortstop and do the best I can at it. If they want me to throw the seventh inning and two innings, or three innings, I'll give it everything I can. Obviously, people have their preferences, but my preference is to win, to help the baseball team, and if that's the best way for me to contribute towards that, that's what I'll do.
Q: What do you think you have to offer a young pitcher like Drew Storen in terms of advice.
Matt Capps: "Just how to prepare everday, it's a long season, 162 games, it's a grind, what a lot of people overlook is, it's 162 games but it's played in 180 days, so there's not a whole lot of time off. Not only to physically be prepared but (mentally?) be prepared every day. It’s a learning curve, it’s something that I, of course, had to go through, and had to learn on my own, had some people helping me along the way, but there’s things you pick up on your own and figure out for yourself, how to be aggressive...big leagues is the same as the minor leagues, it’s the same as college baseball, high school baseball, it’s the same game, same rules, a lot of the same principles are applying, and I feel like a lot of times, when you get to the big leagues at a young age, you’re put on a pedestal and you’re treated differently, and if I can pass along, ‘Look, this is the same game, it’s the same game you played your whole life, just go out and compete, be aggressive and compete,’ I had somebody, Roberto Hernandez told me that my rookie year and that’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget...and he was right, it is the same game, guys are just a little bit better."
Q: Have you talked to former Pirates’ teammates Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett about playing in DC? Are you excited about playing with them again?
Matt Capps: "Very much so, I haven’t talked to either one since making the decision, I’ve text(ed) back and forth with them quite a bit, I’m very excited about being here, being a part of what they’ve got going on here, you know, they both made it very clear that they wanted me to be here, and told me I would fit in, it’s a win-win situation for everybody involved, so, I’m very much excited, and looking forward to the season with those two guys again and getting to know everybody else on the team..."
Q: Is there anybody you're excited about seeing up close and getting to work with in DC?
Matt Capps: "Well, I think it’s going to be cool, you know, with a lot of guys. I’ve always, from across the field, admired guys like Adam Dunn and Willingham the way they play, Jason Marquis, the way he pitched...(inaudible)...and then to have the opportunity to pitch to a future Hall of Fame catcher, you know, I’m excited about that to pitch to and play with Pudge, you know, there’s a lot of positives going on around here and I’m excited to be a part of it..."
Q: How surprising was it to get non-tendered by Pittsburgh? After one bad year? One year doesn't make a pitcher?
Matt Capps: No you're right, and I feel that way too, last year was a season a lot of things just didn't work out...and it did, it surprised me, I knew it was a possibility from a couple weeks prior, and even at the end of the season it had been rumored that it was a possibility that I would be non-tendered, but it still was quite a shock to me, but after the initial shock, I came up and saw the interest from teams, for me, and after doing some research and looking into these teams, I became very excited about the possibilities here in Washington."
Q: How important was geographic location in choosing a team for this season?
Matt Capps: It didn't really play that much of a factor. You know obviously it's kind of a win-win here, being on the east coast, with me living on the east coast and my family being in North Carolina and Atlanta, to be closer, it worked out very well here in Washington, but with that being said, if the right opportunity was elsewhere, I don't think geographics would have played a big part..."
Q: Was there anything in particular that DC GM Mike Rizzo said to you that convinced you that Washington was the place for you to play this year?
Matt Capps: "There's not necessarily anything that he said, you know, all the moves that he's made here and everything he's done here over the last several months, kind of spoke for itself, and then the opportunity to come in here and compete for the job to close, I think this was a no-brainer decision..."