01/10/2013 8:35 PM
Brian Grening (2012 File Photo by Matthew Hicks)
It wasn’t much of a surprise when Brian Grening was selected as the T-Bones Pitcher of the Year for 2012. After all, he went 10-5 and tied for the American Association lead with 113 strikeouts. Playing this winter in the Australian Baseball League, Grening has continued his success. He’s one of the top pitchers in the league with a 4-0 record and 2.24 ERA. He also has 53 strikeouts to only nine walks. His performance this season helped garner him a spot in the league’s All-Star Game in mid-December. Grening agreed to do this e-mail interview with Matt Fulks of tbonesbaseball.com.
Matt Fulks: How would you sum up your season with Canberra so far? I should point out that, at the time of this interview, you guys are in first place, four games ahead, with a 22-11 record.
Brian Grening: It's been a fun season. The team overall is very good. We have a good mix of guys, and everyone contributes something to the team. We haven't had much turnover of guys so pretty much everyone has been here the whole time. When there have been moves, the new guys have been good additions and the guys that have to go are missed.
MF: This might be an odd question, but is “winter” ball almost a continuation of what you did in Kansas City last season, or is this the time of year when you work on, or experiment with, some things (mechanics, pitches, mentality, etc.) for the 2013 season in the States?
BG: The season is very similar to a college season in terms of schedule, with three- or four-game sets every weekend. It is winter ball and you want to have fun but you are still out here to win. The coaching staff is really good about allowing guys the time to see the country and go on some trips. They just want to make sure you are getting your work in and still having fun. You also want to take this time to get better. It's smart especially for free agents to try and get better so you can have a chance to get a look back in the States.
MF: What, specifically, are you working on?
BG: Just trying to get better every day and make the most out of my time here. It is a really great place to play, and Canberra is a great city so I am trying to just have fun while making the most of the opportunity.
MF: Last month you played in the All-Star Game. You got the loss, but how was that experience – playing in the game and against several current and former Major League guys?
BG: That was very fun. I thought Melbourne did a great job of putting the event on and making us feel welcome. You never want to throw bad, even when it doesn't count, but it's all part of it.
MF: Looking at the roster and talking to Kenny Hook, besides Steve Kent (who’s from the Canberra area originally, and who shot this video interview with you and me last June) I understand that fellow T-Bones pitchers Sean Toler and Dustin Loggins are playing with Canberra, along with another American Association player, Adam Buschini, who was with Amarillo last season. Does it help, or does it even make a difference, to have guys you’re familiar with, on the roster?
BG: Absolutely! It was great seeing Loggins and Toler out here. Toler and I live together so that has been awesome. Both those guys have been doing really well. I remember the first series when I turned around and saw Buschini playing second. I played college ball with him, and when I saw him at second this season, I remember thinking how nice it is that I don’t have to throw against that guy this winter. He has been unreal – plays hard, works hard, and then performs. It's really fun watching him play and I hope I don't have to face him again, because he is not an easy out by any means. Loggins has been a solid setup guy and Toler is one of the league leaders in saves. (Note: Buschini is third in the Australian Baseball League with a .356 batting average, and first in home runs (9) and RBIs (33). Toler is second in the league with 10 saves.)
MF: Are there any other American Association guys?
BG: We run into a few every once in awhile. (Wichita infielder) Ryan Khoury, I know, just started playing for Perth.
MF: The regular season ends at the end of January. Canberra has a comfortable lead in the standings. How does postseason work?
BG: Three teams go to playoffs, with first place going straight to the final series at home while the other two play to decide who plays for the championship. Postseason goes about two weeks.
MF: Whenever the season ends, what are your plans?
BG: I am headed home (California) after the season to get ready for whatever I end up doing next season. I miss my family and friends so it will be time to get home.
MF: Speaking of family and home, since we’re so close to Christmas and New Year’s, do you get a decent break, enough to go home, or just long enough to enjoy the holidays?
BG: We get a small break for Christmas, just a couple of days. Australians go all out for the holidays and it is very fun. My host family is very accommodating. They make Sean and me feel at home. Although it’s very hard to be away from my family, if I have to be away from them, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else than here. We spent New Year’s in Perth with a game on New Year’s Eve. Of course, we played a 19-12 game that night and didn’t back to the hotel until about 11:45.
MF: Thanks a ton for your time! Best of luck during the rest of this winter season.
BG: Thanks, Matt. My best to everyone in Kansas City.