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Craig Hansen Interview

Royal Rooters has a interview with Portland Sea Dog Craig Hansen. It's a simple, five minute interview but you get a good understanding of how he is as a person and a pitcher. Here is the full interview:

Blessed with a mid-90s fastball and a biting slider, Craig Hansen may be the first of the 2005 draft class to reach the Major Leagues. Taken by the Red Sox as the 26th pick overall, Hansen made his professional debut Thursday night for Double-A Portland. Boston GM Theo Epstein was on hand, and he did not leave disappointed.

Hansen, a dominant closer this season at St. John's, pitched a scoreless ninth inning to save a 3-2 Sea Dogs victory over Norwich. Allowing only a soft single, Hansen hit 96 on the radar gun and struck out the first professional batter he faced on three pitches. All nine pitches he threw were strikes.

Hansen, who signed on July 23nd, debuted after making only two appearances in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He arrived in Portland only hours before the game, and based on his first performance, he may not be staying for long.

On his first Double-A appearance: "There were definitely a few nerves, but I kept my composure. That's always a big part of it. It felt like my velocity and command were there. I felt solid. It felt great to be back on the mound, and I feel like I did my job."

On being assigned to Double-A Portland: "They told me on Monday, after one of my Gulf Coast League outings. Until then, I didn't really know where I'd be going. I didn't really need to know. I didn't have expectations, because my job is to do what they tell me and try to get hitters out."

On how long he'll be in Portland: "I'm not sure on that, either. They haven't told me, and I haven't asked. That's up to the organization."

On his slider, which he's thrown as hard as 90 mph: "I threw two or three last night, and it felt good. It took a few pens to regain the feel for it after the lay-off, but it's there. I'm not sure how hard I was throwing it. I don't pay much attention to the numbers."

On the effect adrenaline has on his velocity: "I'd say that maybe I throw a little harder when the adrenaline is pumping. Especially last night. You get a little more keyed-up in certain situations."

On developing his change-up: "I'm working on it every day. I'm long-tossing with it, and trying to build up the muscle-memory and get a permanent feel. It's getting close to where I need it to be; to where I can be consistent with it. It's a pitch I want to use to complement my fastball and slider, even as a closer."

On whether his future is as a starter or as a closer: "That's really up to the Red Sox. I don't really know. We'll wait until the offseason and talk about it then. I went seven innings in my last game at St. John's, in the regionals. They told me I threw 95 in the beginning, and 95 in the end, so I know I can maintain my stuff. But it's up to them. Ultimately, it's not my choice."

On joining baseball's biggest rivalry: "Half of my family are Yankee fans, and the other half Mets fans. But in college, I became more and more of a baseball fan than a fan of just one team. I've come to Fenway a few times, and have been amazed by the passion. It will be a thrill to pitch there. When I do, I'm not going to change anything. I'm just going to go with what works for me mentally. I'm composed on the mound, and that's one reason I'm here right now."

On what he's like off the field: "I'm a little outgoing, I guess. But mostly I'm just a normal person. A regular guy."

I'm interested to see this 90-MPH slider in person. If he can really develop a good-to-great changeup then he may be unstoppable. Imagine a 95-MPH heater, 90-MPH slider, and a 80-MPH changeup. That's plain out lethal.

I'm curious to see if he gets a September call-up or not. I'd like to see that he, at least, gets promoted to Pawtucket to this season to see how he fairs against higher competition. I have a feeling his stats won't change.