Rounding the Bases with Pat McAnaney
Fourth-year southpaw Pat McAnaney is having a breakout season for the Cavaliers on the mound. He currently is leading the ACC in innings pitched (57.1), complete games (two), strikeouts (71) and is second in ERA (2.04). Recently he pitched a complete game to earn the win over in-state rival Virginia Tech and set a new personal best for strikeouts (13) in the process. Hailing from Syracuse, N.Y., his parents never miss a game. He sat down to talk with VirginiaSports.com about topics such as the cold winters he misses from home, the impact of throwing a new pitch this year and his experience last summer in Orleans.
Question: Why did you choose to come to UVa?
McAnaney: I’m from upstate New York and I was looking for some warm weather to go play baseball. Virginia came along late in my search and with the distance from home and combination of academics and baseball, it was my best option.
Question: What do you think is the team’s biggest strength this year?
McAnaney: We have a pretty group or seniors and third-years, guys who have been around the block a time or two, so we have the leadership especially come post-season time. We have been to the [NCAA] regionals a few years in a row now and we all want to get over that hump and advance. That will be key for us.
Question: Before this year you have been in and out of the rotation and used out of the bullpen some. How good does it feel to know that you will be starting on the weekend?
McAnaney: It’s really great, I’m real happy the way that worked out. I enjoyed coming out of the bullpen, but being a starter and getting in the rotation and being on a weekly rotation doing the same thing week in and week out it has really helped me.
Question: You had some pretty impressive stats before this season, but this year has so far been your best by far. Have you done anything different or are things just coming around now in your final year?
McAnaney: I’m not doing anything too different. I am throwing a changeup this year instead of a split-finger. I think overall it’s just a confidence thing and I’m a fourth-year now having been through a lot of different situations and everything is just adding up. Knock on wood, I’ve gotten off to a great start this season.
Question: How good did it feel to throw the complete game against Virginia Tech on TV and set a career high for strikeouts?
McAnaney: That was a really fun game. Having it be on TV, my family back at home was able to watch it. It was fun to be able to go out there because Virginia Tech is our rival and it was a nice day. We were at a point in the season where we were playing pretty well and can always use big wins, so I was happy the way it worked out. The strikeout thing was nice to happen, but I don’t really go out there thinking about striking guys out so it was a nice bonus for me.
Question: You mention that your family got to see you pitch but Syracuse is a bit of a drive, how often does your family get to see you pitch?
McAnaney: Luckily for me my mom or dad have been to every start I’ve made so far this year. I think that they can make that drive [to Charlottesville] in their sleep. They aren’t afraid to hop in the car and drive on down. I am really lucky that they have been able to at least my mom or dad one is there every weekend; when they can, one or two of my brothers or sisters are able to come too.
Question: You have given up more than two walks only once in your career. Is that something you work on or emphasize when you are on the mound?
McAnaney: That is just something that happens, as a staff we really work on. Coach Ks [Karl Kuhn] preaches no walks from the moment the fall practices start to the end of the season. It’s all about not giving up free bases and walks lead to runs. I don’t really think about it when I’m pitching it’s just been drilled into our heads and by the time you’ve worked with him for a couple of years you just harness control and attack it as much as possible.
Question: You are leading the ACC in innings pitched, strikeouts, and ERA. Does that mean anything special especially being a fourth-year and trying to set an example for all the younger guys on the team?
McAnaney: Those things are nice, but to be honest I really don’t pay too much attention to those things. I don’t think any good comes from checking stats like that. It is kind of nice how things have gone so far but I’m just trying to go out there and compete. For the younger guys it is nice to show them how to play with fire and passion. I hope it can continue for the rest of the season and into the post-season.
Question: Could you tell me a little about the experience of playing on the Cape for Orleans last summer?
McAnaney: It was a great summer. Michael Schwimer was up there with me and Cape Cod is a great place and Orleans is one of the best towns up there. You can’t beat a summer of playing baseball and going to the beach almost every day. As a baseball player and a college-aged kid it was a great summer. Just to get to play against the best college players from all over the country gives you confidence and it also shows you where you need to get better.
Question: What was it like pitching against wooden bats?
McAnaney: I love the wooden bats. Some of these guys in college are six foot something and weigh two hundred something swinging metal bats; it’s almost unfair. I feel like with the wood bats that when they get a hit off of you that they earned it. Plus, it’s what they use at the next level. I enjoy pitching against the guys with wood bats and I think every pitcher would say the same thing.
Question: Do you approach it any differently?
McAnaney: No, not too much differently. One thing people say with wood bats is that you can pitch inside more because in college if you jam a guy they can still get a hit with the metal bat but with a wooden bat if you jam a guy really good you will most likely get a ground ball or a broken bat. I guess you would just try to work inside a little more against wooden bats.
Question: What has been your best memory so far during your time as a Cavalier?
McAnaney: My first year when we had that run through the ACC tournament to the championship game was pretty fun. There isn’t really one defining moment that sticks out. I would say that overall, just all the home weekend series in the ACC and even the regionals with all the fans coming out. The win over Oregon State last year in 13 innings was great. I didn’t pitch in it but 13 innings against Oregon State with the place packed was probably the most fun game I have been a part of even though we unfortunately didn’t advance.
Question: What happens after this season is over?
McAnaney: I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I graduate this spring. As far as the next level and the draft, it’s not something I am thinking about too much now; I just want to finish the season strong. If someone likes what they see in me and wants to give me an opportunity, then I am all for it. It’s every kid’s dream to play professional baseball so if I am given the opportunity then I am going to go at it with all my heart and we’ll see what happens.
Question: What do you miss most about home?
McAnaney: The weird thing is that I miss the winter. We get a little bit of a winter and snow here in Charlottesville but I’ve always loved the snow and winter back home. I’m also a big Syracuse basketball fan so I miss being able to go to the dome and watching those games in person. Charlottesville is a great place but I just miss the winters and basketball back home.
Question: What MLB player most resembles your pitching style?
McAnaney: I used to think Barry Zito but now I really like Doug Davis of the [Arizona] Diamondbacks. I like how he’s a lefty and doesn’t throw too hard, about 87-90 mph with a few breaking pitches. I love seeing him pitch because he is getting big-league players out and not throwing that hard and hitting his spots. That’s the thing with my game, I’m not going to overpower guys. I was watching his stuff last night and it was great to see.
Question: Who is your favorite player and team?
McAnaney: I’ve always been a [Atlanta] Braves fan growing up and I’m not really sure why I’ve just always gravitated toward the Braves. I don’t really have a player that I like to watch the most; I’m just a baseball fan. I do like watching some of these young guys like Hanley Ramirez. There really isn’t one who jumps out. I do like Derek Jeter and I respect his game, but I could never call him my favorite player by any means.
Question: If you could be any athlete for a day, who would it be?
McAnaney: (laughs) Before this year I would have said Michael Vick, but now it’s probably Peyton Manning. Football is one of my favorite sports and I think being an NFL quarterback would be one of the best jobs in the world.
Question: If you could be on any game or reality show which one would it be?
McAnaney: I think I’d like to be on one of those Real World/Road Rules Challenges. They just look like a lot of fun to be honest with you.
Question: What is one thing that you have to do at some point in your life?
McAnaney: I think skydiving. I’ve said that I want to do that for the longest time. I was going to go for my 18th birthday and I’m sure my mom would kill me if she found that out, but it’s definitely something I would like to give a try.
Question: Cavaliers or Wahoos?
Question: Orange or Blue?