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05/04/08 10:51 AM ET

In Focus with Brian Bannister

Pitcher takes job of role model to children, adults seriously

Brian, you talk about adjustments a lot. So I'd like to ask: What has been the biggest adjustment that you have had to make as a baseball player?
-- Kyle C

The biggest adjustment I had to make as a baseball player was converting from a second basemen in college to a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. On my first day of pitching during my freshman year at college, the hardest fastball that I threw was 84 mph! I have had to work very hard at a lot of the commonly overlooked skills in pitching, such as holding runners, fielding my position, and mixing my pitches in order to succeed over the years. The beauty of the game of baseball is that it is a team game of individual skills. No matter what your physical talent, you can find a way to get the most out of their ability and be successful.

What drills do you think are the best for developing control and improving velocity for youngsters?
-- Dan A.

Pitching is a very unnatural series of movements, and it is necessary to look out for a child's long-term health first and foremost when teaching them how to pitch. I believe the best approach is always to err on the safe side when dealing with young pitchers with regard to their physical workloads.

With that being said, I believe that momentum throwing is the single best way to teach someone how to throw to their genetic potential. What I mean by this is teaching them to relax throughout the pitching motion and create velocity the way that a person would crack a whip. To accomplish this, they should work on leading with their hips off the rubber, landing smoothly into a long stride, and letting their arm "whip" through with as little effort as possible. Pitchers such as Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, and Nolan Ryan are all good examples of the velocity that can be created through momentum throwing.

Control is the much more important variable in pitching, and it is a combination of practice, timing, and consistent physical execution. I believe that all pitchers' control would benefit greatly from simply throwing at 90% effort in 90% of situations instead of throwing at 100% effort in 100% of situations.

What is your gameday preparation like?
-- Nicholas G.

I begin each gameday by eating a large breakfast, usually at IHOP or Cracker Barrel. I drink a lot of water to stay well-hydrated, and then rest/sleep in the early afternoon so that I conserve my energy and am physically ready to pitch late at night. I prefer to pitch on an empty stomach, but I will snack on bananas, granola bars, and sports drinks to keep my energy levels up. I get to the ballpark two hours before the first pitch, and then watch some video once I receive the official lineup from the opposing manager. I like to make sure my body temperature and muscles are warm before I go outside, so I put some hot packs on my arm and do cardio and stretching to loosen up. Finally, I throw only as many pitches as necessary to feel comfortable with my control for that night, and save my energy for when it really counts -- in the game.

What kind of pitcher do you want to be known as?
-- Jay D

My primary purpose when I am pitching is to win as many baseball games as possible for my organization. However, I am always conscious of the bigger picture, and that is very important to me. As much as I want to be a successful Major League pitcher statistically, I want to equally be a quality representative of the Royals, my family, my faith, and every person that has had an influence in my life. As professional athletes, we are role models to children and adults alike, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I try to always have fun playing and to get the most out of my ability, and I want to contribute as much as possible to the game of baseball for both present and future generations of fans to enjoy.

What glove do you use and where can I get one?
-- Tyler K

I use a custom-made, 12" blue Mizuno glove that comes directly from Japan. I have always used a basket web to hide my pitches visually from the hitter, and it has special padding to protect my index finger on line drives. The glove has a larger pocket so that I can change my grip on the baseball without the hitter seeing any movement in my hand or wrist. You can contact Mizuno USA to order a customized version for yourself.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.