- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007

Micah Bowie served as the lone left-hander in the Washington Nationals bullpen for most of last season’s second half.

He opened last season at Class AAA New Orleans and surprised everyone with how well he pitched with the Nationals. Bowie posted a 1.37 ERA in 15 appearances with the Nats, but a back injury ended his season in mid-August.

Bowie, who has had major-league stints with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Oakland A’s and the Nationals, has spent most of his career bouncing around in the minors. Ken Wright caught up with Bowie this week:

Q: When you were healthy last season, you pitched well. Can you talk about what arguably could have been your best season in the majors?

A: It was good to be healthy and get an opportunity to throw a little bit. I got a little sore there towards the end, so they decided to give me a little rest there and try and make sure we didn’t do anything permanent to it.

Q: Was it your back or your shoulder?

A: It was the lat muscle. It feels great. It just needed a little bit of rest. Last year was my first full season back in about three full years with the Tommy John [2004] and some other stuff. Once we got up around the 65-inning mark, it was pushing it a little bit considering what I had been through the last few years.

Q: Can you compare the Nationals with the other organizations that you have played for? What’s different about them and what’s similar?

A: We’ve got a great young core group of players here with [Ryan] Zimmerman and you’ve got Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, we’re going to have a really exciting team out there. It’s unique. Back in Oakland when I was there and went to the playoffs a few times with them, we had something very similar. We had a great core group of positions players out there. Guys that were young and exciting to watch. It was a lot of fun. It’s new. We’ve got a unique opportunity here with the new stadium coming around and let some of these guys go out there and do their thing on the field. With the good lord willing, the pitchers will keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.

Q: The Nationals bullpen is arguably one of the team’s strengths, perhaps its greatest strength, and you’re a part of that. How do you feel about the club’s bullpen?

A: If we go out and do our job and keep our team close, our hitters are going to score some runs for us. The main thing is to not go out there and feel you have to be perfect, but to go out there and keep us in the game and keep us close. We did a lot of that last year. We’ve got [Jon] Rauch, we’ve got [Luis] Ayala coming back all the way and right away and [Chad] Cordero. We’ve got some guys down there that can get the job done and that can pitch a lot and really do a lot of things for our team. So, we’re very fortunate with that and hopefully we’ll build off of that.

Q: With so many relievers that came through last year and that are in camp, does it make your job more difficult to try and win a spot on the Opening Day roster?

A: The only thing you can do is pitch. You can do what you can do or you can pitch and try and control where the ball goes. And after that, they’re going to hit it where they hit it and you just want to make sure you make enough good pitches that the majority of the time they get themselves out.

Q: Is the competition for those bullpen spots pretty fierce?

A: I think there is always a lot of competition. Baseball is a game that can change in a heartbeat no matter what your fortune is. You always go out there and just give it your best and do what you can do and let chips fall where they may.

Q: What did you do this offseason?

A: I worked out a lot. I came down here, I actually came down here Jan. 1, to be here working out with the trainers and with Kazu [strength and conditioning coordinator Kazuhiko Tomooka] and stuff just to do everything I could to make sure I get the most innings I can get this year.

Q: Wow, you were here real early then?

A: Well, ya know, it’s one of those things where you have an opportunity and you want to give it your all and let the good Lord take care of the rest. You get down here and get your work in and feel that you prepare yourself as best you can and see what happens.

Q: Where do you live in the offseason?

A: San Antonio, Texas

Q: Is it a nice place? I’ve never been there.

A: Oh, it’s a beautiful area. We’re a little bit north of San Antonio and I love it there. It’s great. It’s tough on the kids leaving early this year, but it’s one of those things where you make a decision. This is a career. You can only do it for so long. You give it all you got while you can and let God handle the rest.

Q: Have any of these new guys opened your eyes during camp?

A: You don’t really get a chance to see other guys throw. While they’re throwing, we’re throwing, we’re in other groups. There’s some great, young arms in here and they brought in a lot of guys. There’s some young guys from other teams from some trades and things that have happened. So, it should be very exciting.

Q: What do you dislike most about the Washington area?

A: You know what, I loved D.C. when we were there. My family had a great time and got a chance to go to the Smithsonian Museum. It’s a beautiful city with a ton of history, which is awesome. Probably, the parking. It’s tough moving a car around up there, but I love the Metro and made it real easy to get around.

Q: How much longer are you going to keep playing?

A: As long as I can. This is my 15th season of playing baseball, and you’re blessed to have one or two, and to be able to play this long is a tremendous blessing from above. I’ll play as long as I can play and do what I can do. I love the game. I love playing it, the competition. Right now, we’re on a team that’s not picked very high. That’s a challenge for us, to go out and prove people wrong, and show them that we can do things that they didn’t think we could. As an athlete, as a player, you take that challenge and you run with it. You want to give it your best and prove everybody wrong.

Q: Who is the toughest hitter that you’ve faced in your career?

A: Mark McGwire took me deep. He was a tough out and he always hit the ball a long way. To me, he was a great hitter with tremendous bat speed and he was tough to get out. He was probably one of the toughest I’ve faced. Barry Bonds is an extremely tough hitter to get out. I’ll probably go McGwire as one of the toughest hitters that I’ve ever faced.

Q: How deep did he take you?

A: He just hit it into the bullpen, but then he hit the next one almost hit it out right to the wall in centerfield. I was thankful that that one didn’t go too because any time he touched the ball it could have gone out of the park.

Q: How many pitches do you have in your arsenal?

A: I’ll throw three or four. I’ll throw fastball, cutter, slider and a split.

Q: Of those, which is your best one?

A: Fastball. Fastball is always your best pitch.

Q: How hard do you throw?

A: I don’t know. Last year I was in the range from 90 mph to 95 mph. So, stay in that range consistently and make some good pitches.

Q: Is this camp going well for you?

A: Yes. It’s going great. Manny [Acta] has come in and done a great job. We’re moving, there’s no standing around, and it’s hustle, hustle, hustle. Guys get in, get their work done. It’s been great so far. I love the atmosphere and the attitude the coaching staff brings and it’s really “get in, get your work done. Work hard, don’t stand around, be doing something.” It’s a good attitude.

Q: You’re a family man. How do you deal with having a wife and kids playing this sport when you’re gone so much?

A: I have a tremendous wife who loves me a lot and she is awesome. We ended up home-schooling our kids a lot so we can be together and she makes a tremendous amount of sacrifices so that I can play the game I’ve always wanted to play as a kid. I get to fulfill my dream and she really allows that to happen. She’s great with the kids. The kids sacrifice a lot with friendships and their friends at home. It is tough on them at times, I’m not going to lie, but you can only play the game so long and they’ll have an opportunity to be in one area for awhile whenever I’m done. I’m just very thankful that God gave me a great wife.

Q: Do they meet up with you on the road during the season or do they stay at home?

A: Last year they were out to D.C. two or three times with the travel. It was kind of tough last year, but they’ll come out with me wherever I’m at D.C. Hopefully, they’ll get to come on a couple of road trips, too, which is a lot of fun for the kids to see the new cities and do something different that they’ve never done before.

Q: Will they also do that if you’re in the minors?

A: They come with me. We made a commitment to be together as a family and that’s something we believe very strongly in. We’d rather be together than have money and that’s kind of how we’ve taken our whole career.

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