Rounding the Bases with Cody Winiarski
What a difference a year makes for Cody Winiarski. A year ago the Wisconsin native was playing in front of sparse crowds at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis. Today he is making a big impact for the top-ranked Cavaliers, filling the No. 3 slot in UVa’s weekend pitching rotation. He has a 3-0 record with a 4.85 ERA, but has been especially strong over the past two starts, going six innings and earning the win in both outings. Today he discusses his transition to Division I baseball and his work toward a degree in chemistry as well as many other subjects.
How did you get your start with the UVa program?
Winiarski: My coach at my junior college sent a position player here before so he had a contact with Coach McMullan. Last year during the ACC tournament we sent a video of me pitching straight to the hotel and from there it took off. I came down on a visit a couple weeks later and I liked what I saw.
What was your first impression of UVa?
Winiarski: It was a different college atmosphere than what I had been to with most of the other schools. The others were brand new schools really trying to get their foot in the door in terms of education. Here they already had it well established. I thought that was very interesting and I liked it.
Is it different coming from Big Ten country?
Winiarski: It’s a little different breed of ball you could say. With the weather up there, practice is indoors probably until the end of March. They all go on trips early in the season. Here it’s warm enough that we can bring the teams to us. It gets chilly at night, but nothing you can’t handle.
Were you fazed at all by the excessive snow we got here this winter?
Winiarski: No. I didn’t really miss a beat. It felt pretty much like any other winter I’ve had, even a little less. Everyone keeps telling me they usually only get a couple inches. I think last year we had like 160 inches through the winter in Madison.
What has the transition from Junior College to Division one baseball been?
Winiarski: It’s definitely a big step up in terms of offspeed pitches. There you can get away with a lot more mistakes, especially with your offspeed stuff. Here you actually have to hit your spots on a regular basis. Otherwise they’re going to hit your mistakes. They are going to make you pay for it.
What adjustments did you make between your first few starts and your last two?
Winiarski: I did a lot of work in between those weeks looking at some film to see mechanically if I was doing anything differently. I got to working and it all started to click the past couple of weeks. It’s been enjoyable.
What was summer ball with the Madison Mallards like?
Winiarski: It was great. It’s definitely great preparation to come and play in front of these big crowds. We would get 7,000 people for our home games. It is way better than if I had just walked in here from a junior college where we only got a couple hundred people a game. It was a nice transition. But the fans are not as crazy as some of the fans we have seen so far, especially on the road. They are more interested in what’s going on outside the game – the activities we had for them – than the game itself. Here fans are getting on you. It’s an environment that if you’re not used to it can faze some people. I thought I adjusted pretty well and had a good summer.
Do you feel comfortable in your role as the third starter?
Winiarski: Yes, it’s going really good. I am going to try to use these last two weeks as a little boost for the rest of the season.
How was playing with John Hicks in summer ball?
Winiarski: He is one of the funnier guys on the team. Some of it he doesn’t even get, but that’s him. It was definitely good because that way I got to build a relationship with him up there over the summer and then when I came down here I wasn’t all by myself. I could at least relate with him and he could get me introduced to some of the guys and get it going.
Talk about living with fellow JuCo transfer Kenny Swab.
Winiarski: We don’t clean too much so it’s pretty dirty. With us both being junior college players, we have a lot in common. It has been really enjoyable.
What is it that Junior College players have in common?
Winiarski: It’s a different environment that junior college baseball brings. Coming from that kind of school load to the school load here is definitely a step up so we’ve both had to make adjustments.
Does it give you a different appreciation for the game playing on the larger stage?
Winiarski: Yes, especially because the 20 or 30 [fans at junior college games] are all parents and they’re going to be cheering for you no matter what. Here, they are paying for their ticket and they are coming out looking for the entertainment factor and to support the Cavaliers. It adds a little pressure, but I like the pressure.
Speaking of pressure, talk about being a chemistry major at UVa.
Winiarski: My Mondays are nice long days. I start at 9 a.m. and I’m done at 6 p.m. It’s a load, but its something that I want to do.
What do you want to do with your degree?
Winiarski: I want to possibly go into chemical engineering. One of the larger companies where I’m from is Abbott Labs and they make EAS products like protein shakes. I’d like to do that because it combines the athletic background and sports that I work in. That’s the degree you need to get into that.
Food: Kringle – it’s a Danish dessert. My mom and dad bring five or six down every time they come here.
Spot on Grounds: the baseball clubhouse
Baseball memory: winning the Orange and Blue World Series – almost sweeping.
Class: Organic Chemistry
Music: alternative rock – Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Movie: Step Brothers
Sports teams: Oakland Athletics and the Milwaukee Brewers, the Green Bay Packers
Celebrity: Will Ferrell