Pitcher Matt Wise, who finished 4-4 with a 3.36 ERA last season for the Brewers, entered Spring Training camp with a new two-year contract. Wise chatted with fans online from Phoenix on Thursday about coming back from Tommy John surgery, his changeup and life on the road.
Matt Wise: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's chat.
Base_Ball: What's your nickname?
Wise: People call me Woody because they think I resemble the character Woody from the movie "Toy Story."
Base_Ball_2: How did you and Marcus Hanel (bullpen catcher) do in your fantasy football league?
Wise: As far as our fantasy football league goes, we felt we made progress as an organization and we're looking forward to the 2006 season. In other words, we finished last.
tvd65: How do you pitch and/or warm up differently since the Tommy John surgery? How long does it take to get over it mentally?
Wise: I don't warm up any differently. It's just a matter of maintaining shoulder strength so I don't put too much stress on my elbow. It took about a year and a half of pitching competitively before I got over it mentally.
brewcrew2021: Hi Matt, I was wondering if you find it easier to pitch knowing that you will have Derrick Turnbow and a pretty strong bullpen to back you up?
Wise: Everyone in the bullpen has a job and that's getting the ball to Turnbow in the ninth. We all take a lot of pride in doing our job because when Turnbow's finishing a game, it normally results in a "W" for the Crew.
Base_Ball_2: Shouldn't you be at the game right now?
Wise: In Spring Training when we don't have to pitch and the team travels to a road game, the rest of the pitchers stay behind and work on our conditioning.
Base_Ball_2: Are you looking forward to Culver's when you get back to Milwaukee?
Wise: You better believe it. I consider myself a burger expert, and when it comes to burgers in Wisconsin I don't think there's one that compares to a butter burger. Here in Arizona, I enjoy In-N-Out three times a week.
tvd65: Does it get boring at times in the bullpen?
Wise: As long as Turnbow, Bill Castro and Marcus Hanel are around -- there is always something to laugh at.
tvd65: Are there any hitters or teams you feel have your number? Or any guys or teams you feel like you own?
Wise: I'm not exactly sure about the stats but a few years ago when I was with the Angels, Ruben Sierra hit three home runs and two doubles in seven at-bats. I hope I won't have to face him this year.
Base_Ball_4: Matt, how nervous do you get when you get the call to go in late during a game?
Wise: The most nervous you get is when you're sitting in the 'pen waiting. But once you get the call and begin to warm up the adrenaline takes over and you start to settle in. By the time you get the ball from Ned Yost, it's just time to perform.
Base_Ball_4: How's your bat compared to the rest of the Brewers pitchers?
Wise: The last time I checked, no other Brewers pitcher finished the season with a 1.000 batting average -- and yes, I brag about it daily.
tvd65: Did Turnbow's season last year surprise you?
Wise: Turnbow has always had the stuff to be a big league pitcher, but last season showed what kind of results a guy can have with the proper direction mechanically. I doubt anyone would have predicted the type of season he had, but it's a credit to Bill Castro, Mike Maddux and the hard work Derrick puts into becoming a better pitcher.
Base_Ball_4: Why can't relievers like yourself start?
Wise: I was given a few opportunities to start with the Angels, as well as here in Milwaukee, with mixed results. I prefer the bullpen because I get more opportunities to pitch and generally I don't have to face certain hitters more than once in a game.
pgerbs: When are we going to get another look at your Turnbow impersonation? Let Daron Sutton and Bill Schroeder know we want you on the air.
Wise: Whenever I get the chance to impersonate him I go for it. Turnbow is a really funny guy and he gets a good laugh out of it most of the time.
Base_Ball_3: Hey Matt, hello from SoCal. Do you prepare differently in spring with your changeup than a normal fastball pitcher? Is the changeup always there when you come to spring?
Wise: A changeup is a pitch that can take some time to get a feel for. Right now I'm struggling a bit to throw strikes with the changeup, but with time it should come around. Other than throwing long toss with a changeup grip, I probably prepare just like all the other guys.
bry20: Mike Maddux seems very serious, so have you, or any pitcher, ever played a prank on him?
Wise: Mike is very serious when he's talking pitching or during the game, but he could be one of the funnier guys in the clubhouse. Everyone on the staff has a really good sense of humor, which is important to keep everyone loose for the long season.
Jason_Frame: Matt, what are your personal goals for the upcoming season? Also, how do you think Robin Yount has helped the club so far, and have you had any chance to talk to him?
Wise: My personal goals for the season are to stay healthy and help the team any way I can to get to the playoffs. I think having Robin Yount on our side is a very good thing. He definitely is passionate about the game and I think he will help everyone refine their game.
Base_Ball_4: Matt, where is the best bullpen in the Majors and where is the worst?
Wise: The home bullpen at Miller park is definitely my favorite in the league. My least favorite 'pen in the league is in San Francisco, only because they don't have one. We all sit in the dugout then have to run down the first base line to warm up.
Base_Ball_4: What do you do, other than goof around with Turnbow, in the bullpen waiting to be called in?
Wise: Believe it or not, we can actually have some serious debates down there. Politics can be brought up as well as what we all like to do in our spare time.
Base_Ball_3: Matt, would you encourage parents or youth league coaches to teach young pitchers the change instead of breaking pitches?
Wise: I would encourage parents to teach kids a changeup rather than any type of breaking ball. I would also encourage parents to let kids play all types of sports, rather than focusing on just baseball.
weasel22ml: How difficult is life on the road? Do players' families ever travel with the team?
Wise: Life on the road can really get tough. The hotels are great, the airplane is really comfortable, but it's hard being away from my family especially now that I have a 3 year old and a 7 month old. We make up for lost time during the winter.
climbice: Who would be the one hitter that you would not want to face in a setup situation?
Wise: Brady Clark.
Base_Ball_2: Matt, you're my favorite player. Did you go to college and if you did, what did you study?
Wise: I went to Pepperdine University for two years, then transferred to Cal State Fullerton. Organizational Communication with an emphasis in Business was the major I chose at Pepperdine. Basically, it's a business degree with a lot less math.
Wise: I just want to thank you all for joining me today. I enjoyed chatting with you and I look forward to seeing you at Miller Park in 2006.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.