Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tim Redding, 30, is a right-handed pitcher who was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 20th round in 1997 but wound up a top prospect in the organization.

However, after three seasons with the Astros and short stints with the Padres and Cubs, Redding signed a minor league contract with the Nationals last year.

After a slow start and some time at Class AAA Columbus, Redding came up and pitched well in Washington, posting a 3-6 record but with a 3.64 ERA in 84 innings.

Redding, who lives in Texas in the offseason, signed a $1 million deal with the Nationals this winter and is competing for a spot in the starting rotation this year.

Thom Loverro caught up with him recently.

Q: Anything interesting for you this offseason?

A: I took my first cruise, but that was about it. It was pretty normal.

Q: Since you are away from your family so much during the season, do you feel like you have to make the most of your time with them during the offseason?

A: Anybody who has kids, during spring training and if you make the playoffs, you are spending anywhere from seven to nine months away from your family. You see them during the season when they fly in for a homestand or meet you in a city that is close to where you live.

Other than that, all you have is the offseason as a time for reflecting. I got two little ones, 6 and 4, so it is important for me to be there and reassure them that in three or four months, when Daddy has to leave again, everything is going to be OK.

Q: You showed last year that you could pitch again in the major leagues, so does it feel different for you entering camp now compared to last year?

A: I feel more confident as far as what I am able to do for this team at this level. Coming into last year, I had a great year in Class AAA, but I never got a chance with the White Sox. They never called me up.

I came in last year with a real good opportunity to be on this club but pressed way too much instead of just letting things happen they way they are supposed to happen. I think that was the problem last year. But I did have a chance to pitch with this team last year, and pitched fairly well.

It is a great bunch of guys here. It is easy to get along with everyone, and the coaching staff is awesome. The front office people are very accommodating, and I am coming in this spring a lot more relaxed and more confident, based on what I did last year.

But at the same time I know I just can’t take 15 starts from last year for granted. I still have to go out and work every day and show them I still have the ability to pitch here.

Q: You were part of the team’s promotional winter tour this year. What kind of reception did you get from fans?

A: Fans seemed to be very excited, especially about the new ballpark. I know RFK holds a special place in people’s hearts in Washington, but for us it was always like we were home and away from home for us. RFK didn’t really seem like a baseball stadium. It seemed just like a big arena, kind of like playing in the Colosseum in Rome, it was so big and so spacious.

We had great fan support, but a lot of times it never really seemed like we were getting the full atmosphere of a baseball game. Having our own stadium in an area that is up and coming, I know the players and the staff are excited.

The feedback I got from the fans is also that they feel good about the way we finished last year, that we didn’t lay down, and it could carry over to this year. We have a lot of returning players from that team, and you put a lot of us together for a full season, hopefully, we can be more competitive this year.

Q: If you weren’t a major league player, what do you think you might be doing?

A: Golfing, for a living. I am not that good yet. But given circumstances, if I was able to get a coach and all that other stuff, I think there is a chance I could be on some mini-tour doing something.

I would like to play on the Senior Tour. I am consistently 77 to 80 right now, and once in a while I get into the one, two or three over par range. I shot under par once. I enjoy it.

Hunting is my favorite hobby, but golf is something I have a passion for. If I had the time and the money and the energy to get better than what I am now — I know that is a lot of hard work — but I would like to try it.

Q: Who do you think the funniest guy on the team is?

A: [Robert] Fick is not here. He was pretty hilarious last year. Dmitri [Young] has a fun-loving, outgoing attitude and keeps everyone loose, laughing and joking around. He is the guy who keeps the atmosphere loose, so I would probably say Dmitri.

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