Posted at 7:54 PM on April 8, 2009
by David Zingler
When the Twins felt compelled to trade 2-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana due to economic reasons during the winter of 2008, he became the first future Hall of Famer to leave Minnesota during the prime of his career since Rod Carew was dealt to the Angels in 1979.
So far, of the four players acquired for Santana, only Carlos Gomez has been able to find a niche on the big league roster. Philip Humber hopes to change that. The 3rd overall pick of the 2004 draft made the team as a long reliever this season and took some time out to chat about his short career and future before tonight's game.
DZ: You got in there last night and pitched a scoreless inning, how does it feel to get that under your belt?
HUMBER: It's nice, getting out there and get your feet wet. Joe (Nathan) is going through it right now. Even though he's been here for a long time, the first time of the year is always kind of nerve racking. It's nice to get it out of the way.
DZ: Do you know your role on the team?
HUMBER: Yeah. Whatever they need. Right now (I am the long relief guy), we'll see how it goes.
DZ: How has (pitching coach) Rick Anderson helped you out the past couple of spring trainings?
HUMBER: He's calmed me down a lot. Mostly, had me relax. A couple of things he's pointed out to me (have to do) with my delivery - nothing major. Just kind of keeping it nice and easy and being consistent.
DZ: Last year - looking at the numbers - you really clicked in the second half (6-1, 2.57 ERA), what was the biggest reason for that?
HUMBER: I feel like I changed my mental approach. I put a lot of pressure on myself in the first half and tried to do a little too much. I just got back to having fun. It's just a game and you just go out there and do the best you can.
DZ: You came over in the Santana trade. When you get traded for someone like that do you put too much pressure on yourself?
HUMBER: No. I've had pressure on myself in the past from things different than that. I was picked high and had been in big games in college (Rice University)...I normally put more pressure on myself than anybody is going to put on me.
DZ: How did you find out about the trade?
HUMBER: I finished up a workout and got in my truck and had a few text messages. I guess people were saying on ESPN that it was in the works. (Twins GM) Bill Smith called me a couple of hours later.
DZ: There were rumors flying around for awhile, so you weren't totally surprised by it?
HUMBER: I figured something was going to happen. (Santana) was going somewhere - from what we heard - either New York or Boston. When you play for New York you are always kind of prepared to be traded (laughs).
DZ: Especially when you're a prospect.
HUMBER: Yeah, exactly.
DZ: You mentioned you were picked really high (in the draft) - 3rd overall. You had a lot of success in college...Everything had been going so well for you, did you expect to get to the majors right away?
HUMBER: Honestly, I've always taken it one day at a time as far as that goes. I never thought about getting drafted high until maybe a month before it was going to happen...I enjoyed the process. I like working hard and - for me - I feel like God has a big hand in it and I'll be where he wants me to be. Hopefully, I can help this team. I feel like I have grown a lot in the last couple of years as a pitcher. I feel like I've gotten a lot of my stuff back and I feel real confident. I am just looking for an opportunity.
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)