Chuck Lofgren Interview

Life is good right now for Brewers pitcher Chuck Lofgren. Coming off a season in which he took a big step toward re-establishing himself as a prospect, the big lefty had a busy offseason. The former top Cleveland Indians prospect was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Brewers, shared the stage with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and spent his off time with a bikini model. And now the California native is working in Arizona with a spot on the Brewers Major League team on the line.

Lofgren took some time off his pre-Spring Training work to chat with Right Field Bleachers. Despite an interview performance on my part that was akin to the level of play you’d expect from the 2009 Brewers pitching staff, complete with barely intelligible questions and wreckless disregard for appropriate follow-ups, Lofgren showed the composure that could make him a valuable addition to the Brewers bullpen. He is determined to show the Brewers decision makers that he has what it takes to compete at the big-league level and is willing to contribute in any way the team might need him to, even if it means wielding a bat, which is a talent he was known for in his high school days.

The Brewers are bringing a lot of pitchers to camp and competition will be fierce, but I wouldn’t bet against Lofgren being amongst those left standing after the final cuts. And hopefully Doug Melvin and company have struck gold with this 24-year-old left-handed hurler.

Listen to the interview here (intro and outro song is “Pistol of Fire” by Kings of Leon):

This is Jared with Right Field Bleachers and we have Chuck Lofgren on the phone, Brewers pitcher, and we’re just going to ask a few questions.

First off, thanks for joining us, Chuck.

Thank you, Jared. I appreciate it. Thank you for having me on here.

I guess to start off, it’s been kind of a crazy offseason for you so far I’m sure.

Yeah, it really has. Being selected in the Rule 5 draft has been a great experience and it’s been one that I’ve loved and I’m really thankful for the position that the Brewers have put me in.

And what was your reaction when you found out that the Brewers selected you and kind of the opportunity you had there?

My reaction was ecstatic. It was beyond words for me. Because to be able to be on a Major League roster and for a team to believe in you enough to select you in that and then take you over and give you a chance to make a team out of spring, that’s a great honor and I feel truly blessed. It’s a great experience and a learning thing for me. I’m just going to move on and hopefully get all of my work done and succeed like I know how to.

Have they talked to you at all about what role they envision for you on the ballclub?

You know, there’s been bits and pieces of what they’ve said. They’ve said things from being another left-handed reliever to a lefty specialist to a spot starter, mid reliever. So, I’ve heard everything. I’m just getting my work done and getting my arm ready to go in camp and whatever role they want me in is what I’m going to get after and do.

You mostly started when you were in Cleveland’s system, but I guess, just from an outside observation, it would look like your best chance to make this team would be out of the bullpen. Are you open to doing that and do you think it’s something you could succeed with?

Yeah, it’s definitely something I’m open to doing. Being with a new team brings new opportunity. And I feel like I can be successful with that. I feel like my numbers were good enough last year where I think I deserve a chance to pitch up there and see what I can do and I’m excited about the opportunity. If they want me to start, I’ll start. And if they want me to relieve, I’ll relieve.

Yeah, and one thing that a lot of writers and people covering the team have mentioned is that it seems like there are going to be a lot of pitchers in this camp and, you know, they recently signed Scott Schoewenweis, who is another lefty, do you welcome that challenge of those guys, or I guess what’s your mentality going into it knowing that you have that spot to earn and there are a lot of guys there to compete against?

Honestly, I’m not really worried about it. I feel like if I come into camp and I take care of my side of things, that I’ll have nothing to worry about. I’m not worried about who’s signed or who’s ahead of me or whatnot. I’m just focused on what I need to do to get myself in the best physical shape, you know, mentally and physically. And from the pitching standpoint, I feel like if my command is good and my pitches are working for me, there’s going to be an opportunity there for me.

And you mentioned before we started the interview that you’re in Arizona working out with the team already. Have you met Rick Peterson? Have you done any work with him?

I have not met Rick yet. I’ve spoken to him on the phone. But I’m sure I’ll meet him here either tomorrow or Friday.

OK, and I guess being down in Arizona, did you know any of the guys on the team going in or all fresh faces for you?

It’s all fresh faces for me. I played against Josh Butler when we were in high school together and a couple of tournaments when we were younger, but that’s about the extent of it.

And can you talk a little bit about the past few years for you? I think last year was kind of a bounce back year for you. You had some control problems previously, but it seemed like you started to get over that last year a little bit.

Yeah, in 2008 I had some circumstances that I couldn’t really deal with. I was dealing with my mother going through cancer and my brother-in-law going through cancer as well and a couple things were weighing heavy on my heart. But I don’t use that as an excuse for a reason why I did bad, but it definitely was in my mind. And I feel like at times I had gotten off key. But I feel like now with a bounce-back year and the year I have this year, I feel like I’m ready to go. I’ve put myself back on the map and I’m ready to go back after it.

Being a Rule 5 draft pick is kind of a unique situation. Is there any part of you that kind of wants to show the Indians that they should have held onto you?

You know, it’s not really about that. The Indians felt like I wasn’t good enough to put on the roster and that was their decision. I’m not going to say whether it was right or wrong. I’m excited about the opportunity that I have ahead of me. And I’m just looking forward now.

Since you haven’t come up through the Brewers system, most Brewers fans won’t be real familiar with what kind of a pitcher you are, can you kind of give us a little bit of a self scouting report?

Well, from scouting reports I’ve read, I’ve read usually a tall, physical pitcher, 6’4”, 220 pounds. I throw a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, change-up, curve and slider. My fastball ranges anywhere from 88 to 94 miles an hour. My strong parts are deceptiveness and I’ve got a good change-up that I can throw on any count. I feel like my biggest asset is my ability to attack hitters and to never back down. I feel like, when I’m on the mound, that I don’t want anybody to beat me. I have that burning desire in my heart that I want to get the better of the hitter every time. That’s basically the breakdown. I’m very durable. I haven’t missed a start in five years in the Cleveland Indians organization. I never had an injury. Knock on wood. Yeah, that’s basically the breakdown of the scouting report.

And in some of the scouting reports from when you were in high school that I saw, some of the scouts were saying that you could turn into quite a power hitter in the Majors if you were brought up as a position player. Have you ever had any thoughts of doing a little Rick Ankiel position change?

You know, as of right now, I haven’t. Right now, my focus is on pitching and I’m going to do that until the day someone tells me that I can’t do that anymore. Then, of course, yeah, I’d give hitting a shot. I loved hitting. I played on Team U.S.A. for three years in a row and I was a three-hole hitter and I played right or centerfield and that was a lot of fun for me those days. But I got drafted as a pitcher and since then I’ve been just focused on pitching. But, obviously now in the National League, you get to hit again and hopefully they’ll take notice of that in Spring Training when we get to step in that cage and take some hacks.

Yeah, so you think you might ask Macha to take a few cuts during the season if you make the roster?

You know, I’m going to let him decide that for himself. Obviously, he’s not going to want a pitcher hitting up there. But it never hurts your case as a pitcher if you can hit a little bit. Look at Sabathia and a couple of guys like that who can really put a good swing on the ball. You never know. They can be used in different types of situations like that.

Another thing I saw when I was looking around, doing a little research on you, is I found a YouTube video of you singing with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. What’s the story behind that?

Well, I’ve always loved to sing. And a lot of people have told me that they like to hear me sing and want me to sing for them and it’s a lot of fun for me. I’m involved in this charity, it’s called Teammates for Kids, and every year, Garth flies you and a guest out. This year it was in Nashville, last year it was in Vegas. And, on Friday night, you have a meet and greet with him. This year, we were standing in line, my girlfriend and I, Jen, were standing in line and we got up there and we got to talk to him a little bit. We were saying our favorite songs and kind of talking back and forth and I said, “Hey, don’t be afraid to call me up on stage. I can sing a little bit.” And he started laughing and said, “Yeah, yeah, I hear that all the time, but when you get up there and the lights are on you, it’s a little different.” And I said, “No seriously, you might be surprised. Call me up.”

So, Saturday night comes around and we’re at the Country Music Hall of Fame and we have dinner there and there’s a live auction. Steve Levy and Barry Melrose are the keynote speakers of the night. You know, just talking, having a good time. And we went downstairs to the Ford Theater and Garth came out with his band and his wife. They came out and started singing. And halfway through the concert, Garth goes, “Last night I had a young ballplayer come up to me and tell me he could sing a little bit.” And he starts laughing and he goes, “Is Chuck in the crowd?” And I raised my hand and he goes, “Get on up here, bud, here’s your moment.” And I was really nervous, so at first I scream out, “I was just kidding, Garth.” And everybody starts laughing. And he goes, “Ah, come on, get up here.” And I was like, “Alright.”

So, everybody started clapping and I got down there and I’m thinking I’m going to be in the background and sing back-up vocals with Trisha and the band and he goes, “No, no, no, no. You get up front and  you’re singing the whole song.” I sang “Much Too Young” and it was awesome. He gave me a hug afterward and the band. It was a great experience getting a standing ovation like that.

Yeah, and would you say you were more nervous up there than when you have to take the mound during a game?

Yeah, that was a whole different experience I’ve never felt before. I’ve pitched in front of a lot of fans before and pitching on a mound doesn’t really rattle me, but singing in front people, that really got to me and I absolutely loved it.

Well, is there anything else that you’d like to add, anything you think Brewers fans should know about you going into the season?

Just that I’m determined, a hard worker and I’m a great person. Don’t be afraid to say hello to me at Spring Training or off the field. And it’s going to be a great time. I really have a good feeling about this year. And I can’t wait. I’m excited for the Brewers.

Alright, well, thanks again for joining us and good luck.

Thank you, Jared. I appreciate it.

4 Responses to “Chuck Lofgren Interview”

  1. uberVU - social comments Says:

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by RFBleachers: Picked in Rule 5 draft, sang with Garth Brooks and dating bikini model, new Brewer Chuck Lofgren had a good offseason.

  2. Tyler Says:

    Great interview.

    Hopefully he can make the most of the Rule 5 situation, and hold on to that spot on the 25-man. The bullpen seems packed right now, but if he throws well this spring, I’d assume he has a leg up on most of the non-roster invites… being an affordable Rule 5 and all. If he’s going well, I don’t think the Brewers would risk demoting him (a situation where they must offer him back to Cleveland first).

    Best of luck to him though.

  3. Jared Says:

    Yeah, the bullpen is definitely packed. It seems like the Brewers are leaning towards keeping two lefties in the ‘pen though. I think he’ll be battling Scott Schoeneweis and possibly Chris Narveson for the role as the situational lefty behind Mitch Stetter.

    In terms of potential, I think Lofgren has the most, but these aren’t the 2002 Brewers anymore so they can’t keep guys on the team based purely on upside (not that there were many Brewers on the 2002 team with upside…). Lofgren will have to win the spot in Spring Training.

  4. battlekow Says:

    Nice work, Jared. Thanks.

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