Right-hander Tim Redding is one of 12 pitchers trying to join John Patterson on the Nationals' rotation in 2007. But Redding got off to a slow start on Monday against the Braves. He entered the game in the fourth inning and gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Redding, 29, will get a chance to redeem himself when he starts against the Mets at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
MLB.com caught up with Redding on Friday morning to talk about his last start, his baseball career and his brief time with the Nationals.
MLB.com: I spoke to pitching coach Randy St. Claire two days after your outing against the Braves, and he felt you were trying to do too much on the mound and possibly a little nervous. Was that the case?
Redding: I was definitely nervous. It was the first time I was pitching in front of the Washington Nationals' front office.
Given the situation of the game, of course, I was trying to do a little too much -- more than I was able to do. I went in there with somebody else's runners on base, and I know how that feels as a starter. I was trying to get the guy to hit a ground ball and hit into a double play.
I definitely agree with what Randy said. We talked about it as well. I was definitely out there trying to throw a little harder and trying to make pitches a little dirtier instead of just going out there and making good, quality pitches.
MLB.com: It seems to me you are trying too hard to make this team. Do you think you have to take it one day at a time?
Redding: You have to, but being that there are quite a few pitchers in camp, there is so much impressing you [have to] do. Given the fact you get one day out of five to throw, you kind of press a little bit when it's your time to throw because you don't know, one, if it's going to be the last time before cuts are made or, two, if its going to be a situation where you have a good or bad taste in your mouth heading into your next competition.
Take it one day at a time, for sure, is the old cliché, but at the same time you have to do something to open some eyes here. You are not going to make the team with one good appearance.
MLB.com: Last year, you had a good season with Triple-A Charlotte. How disappointing was it that the White Sox didn't promote you to the big leagues?
Redding: It was very disappointing. I felt like I was one of the top pitchers in the Minor Leagues last year. To sit there and feel good about myself -- throwing 187 2/3 innings throughout the season -- absolutely, I was disappointed. I was healthy, had a good year and led our team to the playoffs. We had a good squad.
But to sit there and say I threw 187 2/3 innings in Triple-A is nothing to be proud of because a lot of other organizations would have given me an opportunity to come up to the big leagues and pitch. And for whatever reason, I was with the wrong team at the wrong time, I guess.
Redding: A lot of self doubt went on when I finally got up to the big leagues with Houston. With all the prospects we had coming through there, pitching and hitting-wise, I was fortunate to be one of the highly touted ones.
In the Minor Leagues, I was a prospect. I was expected to do well and I was expected to be in Houston, and I just kind of went with it, pitched and did my thing. I got up there and fulfilled a lifelong dream. I kind of bought into the bit of being more of a fan instead of a player. I was like, "Wow. I'm here. I can't believe it. It's surreal," instead of treating it like it was the same game it was when I was trying to make it there.
Getting back to what Randy said about pressing, I was just pressing so much to try and prove to people that I belonged in the Majors. If I didn't, I wouldn't have been there in the first place. Of course, I know that now. The reason I was able to have a good year last year and maintain it the whole season is because I knew I belonged in the Major Leagues. And I knew I deserved to get a chance.
MLB.com: Who helped you become the confident person you are now?
Redding: It was a lot of people, really. My wife, for one. My wife's family, as well as mine. My wife is always there, telling me to just do the best I can do. Let the cards fall as they may. If I go out there and do well, I hope to continue [the success]. If I had a bad day, go out there and get them the next time. I'll prepare myself a little bit better.
Going through the minor shoulder repair [in 2005] was the most nerve racking. I didn't know if I was going to come back. Before the surgery, I was pitching badly.
Before 2006, I hadn't had a winning season since 2001. I was afraid that it might be over. I just really took the time and started looking to God and trying to throw myself into his hands a little bit more. Whatever I'm going to do now, it's strictly based on God. He gave me the chance before and I didn't succeed. All I'm asking for is one more chance. Hopefully, this is the chance he has given me with this organization.
MLB.com: If seems you know who you are as a pitcher. You know you are not going to blow away hitters. It sounds like you are a pitcher.
Redding: Definitely. Coming up with Houston, it was just fastball, fastball, fastball and the occasional off-speed pitch, which wasn't very good. Now, I have four or five pitches, which I feel confident throwing. It wasn't like I wasn't getting strikeouts. So you can still strike guys out, but still pitch well with multiple pitches instead of just throwing hard.
MLB.com: You have reunited with manager Manny Acta. How does it feel to work with him again?
Redding: It's a blessing. I'm ecstatic to have the chance to play for him again. We had a great team in Kissimmee, Fla., in 2000. He made it fun. He kept it relaxed. If you did something wrong, he made sure he [talked] to you about it. He didn't let it linger. He nipped it in the bud as soon as possible.
MLB.com: Are you happy?
Redding: I'll be happy on March 29, when we break camp and I'm on the 25-man roster. I'm happy to be here. I'm happy with where I am in life. My daughter is 5 years old. She is starting to play softball. My son is 3 [years old]. He wants to do more stuff.
I'm confident about myself and my ability. I'm confident about how this team is going to perform. I'm confident about how the staff is going to manage us. I think it's going to be a good 2007. We may not be a playoff-contending team, but I think it's going to be a .500 team, if not a couple games above.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.