Patterson Out To Prove He Belongs

Scott Patterson knows what he needs to do

When the Yankees announced their 2008 Opening Day roster, there were many people who were surprised to find Scott Patterson's name nowhere to be found. After all, he delivered on all accounts in his first big league camp, allowing one hit and no runs in 7 2/3 innings pitched. Despite tremendous numbers, Patterson was sent back to the Triple-A level in Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

While many might take umbrage with the decision, Scott Patterson is not that type of player. Despite his disappointment, Patterson displayed confidence in himself. Yankees manager Joe Girardi expressed a similar confidence in Patterson as well.

"His exact words [to me] were that it was the hardest decision he had to make," said the right-handed reliever while speaking of the final conversation he had Yankees skipper Joe Girardi before being sent to Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Despite Girardi's encouraging words, Patterson admitted his obvious disappointment with the decision.

"It was a little disappointing because I thought I was a part of it. I wasn't the guy in the 9th inning that got the minor league guys out."

The North Virginian might not be residing in the Bronx, but he hasn't let a trip to Triple-A damage the level of success he found in Tampa this spring.

"It was good. It was my first big league camp experience. I pitched well. Hopefully what it did for me was help make it so I'm the first call-up," Patterson said optimistically. "Hopefully when they need someone, that's what they got out of it and that's what I got out of it."

In the meantime, Patterson spends his time in the Scranton Wilkes-Barre bullpen where he'll be a key part of what looks to be a strong unit this season. While in Triple-A, he knows there's more to work to be done that could help initiate a job at the major league level.

Agreeing there's always something new to add to your game, he spoke about the addition of a third pitch to his repertoire - a slider. He utilized the slider in Spring Training minimally and still found success with it.

"The big thing that I worked on was my slider," he revealed. "They really wanted me to develop the third pitch. I threw it, and I threw it well. I threw about ten sliders, all of them for strikes," he said speaking of Spring Training, "When I worked on it, it worked perfect. What I wanted to work on, I got done."

First year Scranton Wilkes-Barre pitching coach Rafael Chaves spoke about the importance of Patterson's emerging slider.

"It's going to give hitters a different look," said Chaves, "He has an average fastball and a good curveball. With the slider, we're looking for a shorter, tighter break on the pitch, and something he can get in on lefties."

Patterson intends to continue to use the slider and incorporate it more into his daily game plan. While hoping to find success with the slider as a possible out-pitch, he isn't afraid to let the eight men behind him get some action as well.

"I look at it as I've got eight guys. They want to work, let them work. If I can strike them out, so be it, but let those guys work."

The 230-pound right-hander is more than happy to compete as well. He understands he isn't the only one with the talent to pitch in the Yankees' uniform.

"I like competition," he said with a smile. "That's what you want. If I want to play, I want to play with the best. That's how I take it every day."

Provided his winning attitude and early successes continue, Patterson could find himself in New York sooner than later. In five games thus far this season, Patterson has held opposing batters to a .200 batting average and holds a 3.18 ERA.

If New York is indeed his future, he believes he has a winning formula to stay in New York.

"At any level, the main thing is throw strikes," said Patterson. "That's what they said they liked about me. That and try to have more strikes than balls. If you have more strikes than balls, you aren't getting as many good hacks out of those hitters."

"That's the biggest thing. At the major league Level, you're going to get more contact, but as long as they aren't getting good hacks at it, I'm fine with that."

Regardless of when the phone rings and the trip from Scranton to New York is booked for Patterson, he's confident he'll get his shot at the Bronx in the near future.

"I'm going to keep throwing the slider and make sure they know that I have that third pitch that's going to get bigger guys out. If I keep doing what I've been doing up there, down here, hopefully the impression is there that I can get the job done, and I'll get a call-up," he concluded.

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