Q&A with Sean Henn

"I never felt pain in my elbow"

Sean Henn was the New York Yankees 20th round pick in the 2000 draft. The Yankees let him go back to his junior college, and after a spectacular sophomore season, in the May window signing period, inked him to a pro contract with a $1.7 million bonus. In his first year it was discovered his ulnar nerve had to be replaced with the infamous Tommy John procedure. We caught up with him during Instructional League to get his perspective on his career since that time.

PinstripesPlus: You're in instructional league. What are you here to work on?

Sean Henn: My change-up. The grip. The mechanics. Make sure my arm isn't dragging. Be more consistent in hitting my release points. If I can do all this it will improve all my other pitches.

PP: What are you going to do after instructional league ends Oct. 8th?

Henn: First I'm going to my cousins wedding in Newburgh, NY. I still have some family there. Then its back home to Texas for my brother's wedding in Nov. Then the only thing I'll be working on is my golf game until 6 weeks before January. Then I'll start running, following the workout schedule the Yankees will give me to get ready for next season.

PP: When did you first feel pain in your elbow?

Henn: I never felt pain in my elbow. After a start, the next day, my elbow was swollen. I told the trainer and they sent me for a MRI in Staten Island. The Yankees then sent me to Tampa where in a day or two they took another MRI. All the time I was kept in the dark. My agent Billy Martin Jr (not related to the Yankee Billy Martin) was calling trying to find out my situation. The first inkling was when I got a call from the agent that signed me saying he heard that I needed surgery. Two weeks later I was in Birmingham, AL getting the procedure. I have to say I wasn't too worried, a lot of pitchers have gone through this procedure before and were the same or better.

PP: What was the worst part of the rehab process?

Henn: Coming here to Tampa, being away from home for so long. My junior college was only an hour and half away from home. When I went off to Staten Island I thought I'll be away only 3 months. Instead, except for 4 days during Thanksgiving and 10 during Christmas I was in Tampa. What made it worse that there weren't many players around. And those that were, didn't know English, there was Chien-Ming Wang, whose command of English wasn't as good as it is today, and another Latin kid. I'll come in at 9 AM, do what the training staff required, that would take a couple of hours, and I was done for the day.

PP: Are you doing anything different, in your mechanics, or your pitches since coming back from surgery?

Henn: They moved my arm slot from 3/4 delivery to more over the top. They also had me working on bending my back foot. It was too straight so it kept me from getting over, hitting the release point.

PP: You bat righty but throw lefty. What's up with that?

Henn: My father taught my older brother how to hit by being a mirror for him. My Dad would stand on the right side of the plate so my brother could imitate from the left side. My brother taught me so naturally he used the same approach, he acted as my mirror so I ended up learning how to hit from the right side. It is strange I hit right since I do most everything lefty.

PP: You were drafted with one of your junior college teammates, Tacker. How did his departure effect you?

Henn: He had the same procedure as I did only he didn't come back that fast, and he was released. It was cool to be playing together for so long. During spring training he was called into the office and when he came out he told me he was released. It was tough, we were roommates in junior college and in the pros. It made me realize it was a business. I've kept in touch and after exploring his options he decided to give it another shot, he's now playing in a Independent League.

PP: How do you feel about your ‘04 season?

Henn: Real happy. My numbers aren't as good as I want it to be but I answered the bell every start and my #1 goal in ‘04 was to stay healthy and I was.

PP: You signed for $1.7 million. Do you have any advice on what to do with that kind of money?

Henn: Save it and don't listen to all the people who want a piece of it. Everyone expects you to pay for this or pick up the tab for that. Also have a strong financial manager. Recently I bought a game boy and he called up and said you got 5 why do you need another?

PP: You were a good student. Have you continued your college education?

Henn: I haven't. I would like to but since I've signed I've spent no more than 6 months total at home. I find it difficult enough to motivate myself to go out running and do the things I need to do for baseball so I don't think it would be wise to complicate things even more by going to school and worrying about homework and term papers.

We would like to thank Sean Henn for taking the time to talk to Andy Braunstein down in Tampa at the Florida Instructional League.

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