InsideTheDome: Being selected by the Blue Jays during the Rule 5 draft, what was your reaction to that last winter? Did you expect to be claimed by a team or did you expect to remain with the Indians?
Lee Gronkiewicz: I was very excited about being drafted last December by the Blue Jays. It was my first time being drafted in baseball in any draft. Therefore it was the first time I have really felt like an organization wanted me.
InsideTheDome: Do you believe that the Indians gave you a fair chance? You put up outstanding numbers year after year, but it seems you never got that promotion to challenge you.
Lee Gronkiewicz: The Indians had been very honest with me my whole career. I have deserved some promotions with them, but that was not my job at the time. They told me that I was going to be a year to year guy at every level. So I knew I would not move up at anytime any of the years. I was very surprised last year when they gave me some time in Triple-A with Buffalo. I am thankful that the Indians gave me a chance to play professional baseball. There are not many hard feelings there.
InsideTheDome: Going into spring training did you think you could begin the season at Triple-A, and where you disappointed repeating Double-A after performing well with Akron in 2004?
Lee Gronkiewicz: I thought I had a good chance to start the season this year with Syracuse, but some things you can not control in this game. I was pretty disappointed, but I feel like that gave me some fuel for the fire this year. Every time I pitched in Double-A this year I had a chip on my shoulder. So it might have been a good thing to get my season rolling in the right direction.
InsideTheDome: Give us a little scouting report about yourself on the mound. What pitches do you throw, how hard, and what pitch would you consider your best pitch?
Lee Gronkiewicz: I have 5 pitches in my repertoire. I throw a fastball in the 88-91 range, a curve in the 68-70 MPH range, a slider/slurve which is in the 75-76 MPH range, a changeup in the 78-80 MPH range, and a cut fastball which clocks at 82-84 MPH range. Recently I have lost my cut fastball and it had turned too big. So it is little slow right now. I am working to getting it back in the 80's
InsideTheDome: Is there a pitch you are currently working on to improve on, or even one that you are trying to learn and add to your repertoire?
Lee Gronkiewicz: Well I am always working on locating my fastball. I feel like I have done a good job with that this year and am working on getting better always. Right now my focus is on getting my cut fastball back to 82-84 MPH. It has slowed down to 78-79 MPH and it is too close to my slider speed. It has recently turned into the same pitch, which is not good.
InsideTheDome: If there is one thing you would like to work on to improve in your game, what would it be?
Lee Gronkiewicz: Well I can’t grow five more inches so I guess I will have learn how to gain maybe a mile or two on my fastball. I would like to improve on my location of all my pitches. I can throw all my pitches for strikes. I think the next step is being able to throw all my pitches for quality strikes. What I mean by that is to be able to throw my curve and slider on the black of the plate. Right now I leave it on the outer third of the plate.
InsideTheDome: Have the Blue Jays told you if you will be a September call-up, and do you expect to join the Jays in September after your incredible season?
Lee Gronkiewicz: They have not said anything to me. They did not let me go to the World Cup for Team USA so I hope I get a chance in September, but that is out of my control. I have put myself in good position to do that this year. I know JP has some tough choices to make. I hope I am one of them either way.
InsideTheDome: Whether in spring training, with New Hampshire or now with Syracuse, has there been one pitcher in the Jays system that has really impressed you and that you believe has a good shot of being successful in the majors.
Lee Gronkiewicz: I think Shawn Marcum has been real impressive to me. He really has a good concept of pitching. He throwing strikes down in the zone, and working fast. Teammates really like playing behind someone who attacks hitters quick. I really feel that is why he has won a lot of games this year.
InsideTheDome: Whether in spring training, with New Hampshire or now with Syracuse, has there been one hitter in the Jays system that has really impressed you and that you believe has a good shot of being successful in the majors.
Lee Gronkiewicz: In Double-A I was impressed with Rob Cosby. He started off real slow, by the time I left he was maybe the hottest hitter in the league. In Triple-A, Gabe Gross has really taken a liking to leading off. He has set the table lately for Kevin Barker and John-Ford Griffin. Both of them are RBI machines
InsideTheDome: Have the Jays told you what they want you do this winter? Will you pitch in winter league, or attend instructional league, or anything to that extent?
Lee Gronkiewicz: They have not told me what they want. Right now I have signed to play in Mexico. Last year I was in Venezuela and Puerto Rico.