Washington Nationals LHP Matt Purke Ready to Get Started

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, August 18, 2011 | , , , | 0 comments »

"Right now, I'm ready for about two or three innings of work." Matt Purke, on how his arm feels.

"That's the way East Texas people are." Purke's agent, Peter Vescovo, about consenting to pre-signing medical exams.

Exuding a quiet confidence, one of the Washington Nationals newest recruits met the D.C. media today and explained why he felt the Nats were the right team for him and why he consented to an invasive medical procedure, even before he signed a contract with the team.

Left-handed pitcher Matt Purke, late of Texas Christian University, spoke with a deep, respectful voice as he addressed Nationals beat writers.  Accompanied by his family, his agent Peter Vescovo, the Lerner family and Nats GM Mike Rizzo, the 21-year old pulled on his red Curly W cap and crisp, white home uniform No. 47 (for Tom Glavine), then answered several questions revolving around his draft status, how he decided this was the place for him to be, and about the health of his left arm, which limited him to just 11 starts in his sophomore year.

Below is a transcript of the press conference Q&A.

What was it about the Nationals that convinced you to sign here?  
I came up here. They come highly recommended. I've seen the things they've done the last few years with the prospects they've brought in and the Major League players as well. This organization is going to be very strong, they're building, and they're going to be a serious team to deal with in the years to come. I knew I wanted to be a part of that and hopefully to be a helpful piece in the puzzle.
How is your arm, and why did you consent to the physical, MRI and arthogram? How were the last couple of days, excitement-wise? How much have you been throwing this summer?
I just knew that, the only thing I could do was lay it out there and say 'Do what you want to do', do the test, look at it, get your own assessment of it and then we can talk. I knew that I was healthy and I was fit again. I just had to prove it so I said 'do what you have to do' and then we'll talk from there.
How have the last couple of days been?
Big relief. It's been nice. It's been a long, seems like two weeks but it's only been three days. But they've been very enjoyable and I'm very excited for the opportunity that I have here and to come.
How does your arm feel?  Have you been doing a throwing program this summer?
Yes, I've been throwing all summer and I've been been in bullpens. I've been able to build my stamina up now. Since my last bullpen I've been ready, right now I'm ready for about two or three innings of work. That's what I knew I needed to do all summer is to get built back up and get my strength and everything that I kinda missed throughout the year.
Was it difficult being hurt in college, not being able to be on the field with your teammates? How frustrating was watching the draft?
It pulls on you. You want to compete for your guys and your teammates and I loved TCU and the opportunity I had there and everybody, the staff, Coach Schlossnagel and those guys. But I sat down with them and he said, 'I've seen you work all year. You've done what you need to do for this team' he said, 'But you need to take care of yourself because you have a bright future and a long career and that's what you need to do.' So we were able to work with that.
How frustrating was watching the draft, with each pick going by and your name not getting called?
It was different from everything, but I was very honest and open in the beginning with everyone and throughout the year. I was not worried or concerned where I got picked. I just wanted to know who it was going to be. I knew that at some point I would get picked and this was the right team and the right situation that I needed. So I was very fortunate and excited when it happened.
Was going back to school ever really an option? When did you know this was the right situation?
You always have options. Bu tI knew that once everything had started here and that I'd gotten up here and gotten a feel for this organization I knew that this was a good fit for me and the right situation that I was looking for. And so I knew I was ready to play and move on, and I was thankful enough to get the opportunity.
When did you know the Nats was the right situation for you?
I think it was pretty much right away once I had seen and heard about the things that are going on here and how this organization, the Lerners and Mr. Rizzo, run things around here and I knew that was something that I was looking for and value a lot. So I knew this was a really good spot.
How did you know DC was a really good spot? Can you describe your repertoire and maybe who you pattern your pitching after? To Rizzo, about the plan for Purke going forward:
When I did all my college recruiting I took a lot of visits and I went to a lot of places. When I got to TCU, I kinda got the sense that 'This is home', this is where I could call home and I can fit in with these people and be a part of this group. Throughout the days I was here before the All-Star break, I got the same, similar feeling, when I was able to talk to the owners and be around the stadium and see the fans and stuff. And I said, 'I know this feeling.' And it was a good one and that's why I felt that way.
Can you describe your repertoire and maybe what pitchers you model yourself after?
Pitching repertoire is simple. Fastball, curveball, change-up. I say someone I emulate myself off of is kind of a cross between Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels. I have the same build, similar style. So I've kinda watched those guys and I've been fortunate enough to meet both of them and talk to them and learn about their careers and what's been successful for them.
To Rizzo, about the immediate plans for Purke the rest of the summer:
Matt's going to stay at the stadium for a day or so and go down to Florida and we're going ot have our pitching coordinator, Spin Williams down there. We'll assess where he's at as far as his readiness to pitch, and as Matt said I've seen him pitch recently and he's well on his way to pitching in a game so when we make that assessment we'll put a plan together to get him on the mound.
To Purke's agent, Peter Vescovo, about the difference between this negotiation and with the Rangers in 2009, and the MRI: To Purke, did you have any concerns about the arthogram?
I just think there was more dialog between the two parties and we're just more open and up front. That's the way Matthew and his family wanted it to be, to be straightforward and honest. Some people might say, 'Why would you shoot the dye?' why would you do this, but it's the way East Texas people are. They're gonna put everything out there and show you what they're about. So I think Mike and I kinda agreed that we were gonna move forward with it and luckily it worked out.
To Purke, about consenting to an invasive medical procedure before being under contract:
I knew that's what needed to happen. Obviously when you talk about investing in someone you're going to want to know what your investment is all about. I was comfortable and confident in the results I had gotten from everything throughout the year and so I said that's fine,. I had no objection. They're looking to protect their investment and I understand that and understand that it's business and it's not personal and so I was open to do it and I was thankful that I did it early. I really was glad to do it early and get it out of the way, that way talks would be able to continue then and we wouldn't have anything pending on what happens in the end.