Pirates ace Duke chats with fans
All-Star answers questions on season, his preparation
Pirates All-Star pitcher Zach Duke participated in a live online chat with Pirates fans on Wednesday. During the chat, Duke answered many questions about the season so far, his game day preparations, the experience at the 2009 Midsummer Classic and more. The complete chat transcript follows.
figg_41: What was it like being on the red carpet with some of the other greats of baseball?
Zach_Duke: it was very awe inspiring to see over 300,000 baseball fans all gathered together, and I got to be next to greatness in the form of Trevor Hoffman which was a very humbling experience.
biggiley: Hey Zach, big fan of yours and glad you're doing well this season. My question to you is if you have any superstitions on game day. Thanks.
Zach_Duke: i am not a very superstitious guy, i just have a playlist of songs that i like to listen to leading up to game time.
ilovezach_57: What was your favorite part about going to the All-Star Game? Congrats on being chosen.
Zach_Duke: i think my favorite part was being on the field with all the great players and just getting to say i was there as a part of it all.
ahue: What has been the biggest difference for you this year compared to years where you have struggled? Is it something to do with your pitching or is it more psychological?
Zach_Duke: for me, the biggest difference has been mental. i am not trying to do as much and just letting myself execute pitches instead of trying to be so perfect.
Buccoooooooooos: Zach, how about that win last night?
Zach_Duke: i love wins! it was especially nice since we were on a nice roll and I was able to keep it going.
CervelliFan: Zach, the Pirates have been playing pretty good ball since the trading deadline. How long do you think it'll be before the Pirates become a serious playoff contender and why?
Zach_Duke: it has been very fun here lately, hopefully sooner rather than later we will get the winning ways going more consistently.
duke876: Zach, What were you doing when you got called up to the big leagues?
Zach_Duke: i was in Ottawa, Canada and had just arrived to the ballpark to throw a bullpen when Trent Jewett called me into the office and sent my world spinning.
Buccoooooooooos: What's on the playlist?
Zach_Duke: it is an interesting mix of songs. some country, some rock, mostly songs that make me get the competitive juices flowing.
ilovezach_57: Besides winning your first game, what other win stands out to you the most?
Zach_Duke: opening day here this year. it was such a special day with all the pre-game ceremonies and the way we were honoring the fallen police officers.
bucco_girl: Hey Zach! What's your favorite thing to do when you're not playing baseball?
Zach_Duke: i enjoy playing video games, fishing, camping, and spending time with my family.
bucs2857: Who was the biggest inspiration when you were young other than Trevor Hoffman?
Zach_Duke: growing up in texas i was a huge nolan ryan fan.
duke876: Zach, On a game at 7;05 when you're the starting pitcher what time do you usually arrive at PNC Park to get warmed up?
Zach_Duke: i get to the park around 4 and get into my warm-up routine around 530.
chi_sox77: What things will you be working on in the offseason to have a repeat performance next year?
Zach_Duke: i plan on continuing my current work program and reviewing the games from this year to see if i can pick up any more tendencies from the hitters.
brad003: When you aren't pitching is it fun to be in the dugout watching the game?
Zach_Duke: it sure is! it always seems that you see something you have never seen in a baseball game before.
redsoxbad: Which MLB team did you like growing up?
Zach_Duke: the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves. They were the only two teams I was able to watch on tv.
ilovezach_57: Is there any significance to wearing the number 57?
Zach_Duke: nope, it's just what they gave me when I showed up.
tblais33: How does it feel to be a leader in a young clubhouse?
Zach_Duke: it's kind of strange, but it is nice to have guys asking my opinion and how they should be going about their business.
markwandy: Zach, which team do you like to pitch against the most? And who is the batter you would least like to face?
Zach_Duke: i enjoy each game equally. each lineup poses different challenges. and since I can't seem to get Pujols out, i will say I don't like facing him too much.
a7a7a: Do you have a big family? And are they supportive of your career?
Zach_Duke: i don't have too large of a family, just one sister, but they are all very supportive of me and are my biggest fans.
CervelliFan: Zach, what's your favorite food?
Zach_Duke: i love lamb chops.
adobo_619: How did you increase your pitching velocity in high school?
Zach_Duke: with a lot of long toss. it is the best way to increase arm strength.
biggiley: Nice to see you were in Ottawa at one point because I'm from Ottawa. If you weren't a baseball pitcher, what would you choose as a 2nd career?
Zach_Duke: i would like to be a high school teacher/coach.
jsw1952: Where did you get your start in baseball?
Zach_Duke: i started playing little league in a little town named clifton, texas.
denman10: Hey Zach! I'm guessing you play baseball video games as well, do you ever pitch with your player? How do you think the game has done in portraying your skills?
Zach_Duke: i throw way harder in the video games.
adam82: What would you say your favorite ballpark away from PNC is to play at?
Zach_Duke: i enjoy wrigley field in chicago, petco park in san diego, and minute maid in houston because it is where i get to see most of my friends and family.
bissette12: Hey Zach, what are you thinking before your first pitch of every game you start?
Zach_Duke: strike one.
duke876: Zach, do you enjoy hunting in your spare time?
Zach_Duke: i am not a big hunter. i do enjoy bird hunting some though (dove, quail, and pheasant).
linds18: What do you guys do during a rain delay to keep yourself loose?
Zach_Duke: we like to play cards, listen to music, and watch other games going on.
denman10: If you weren't a pitcher, what different position would you choose instead?
Zach_Duke: i used to play first base, but my hitting skills weren't all that great, so i was forced to become a pitcher only.
duke876: Zach, what did you think about the game last nite with the walk-off to beat the World Champs?
Zach_Duke: that was a great win and a whole lot of fun!.
piraterain: Zach, where were you when you were drafted?
Zach_Duke: i was at home, but i didn't get a call for a couple of days because i was selected in the last round of the first day of the draft.
chi_sox77: Did you always want to be a pitcher?
Zach_Duke: there was a while when i wasn't sure, but i think if i could only pitch or hit for my last game, i would rather pitch.
guz82317: Hi Zach! What do you like to do in Pittsburgh when you're not working?
Zach_Duke: i spent the last off day out on the river fishing and cruising around seeing the sights.
ilovezach_57: Who has been the most influential in developing your career?
Zach_Duke: probably my dad. he has always been there pushing me to get better or finding the right coaches or situations to help me the most.
biggiley: Do you follow any other sports?
Zach_Duke: yeah, i follow football, as a matter of fact we have our clubhouse fantasy football draft coming up soon.
ilovezach_57: What is your favorite thing about playing in Pittsburgh?
Zach_Duke: that view of the skyline from the ballpark never gets old.
bsball212: What is your favorite part about playing for the Pirates?
Zach_Duke: for me it has been how the Pirates have never given up on me. they have stuck with me through the good times and bad.
piraterain: Who's the prankster on the team?
Zach_Duke: it was john grabow, but now it's just kind of anyone who gets a wild hair at the time.
CervelliFan: What's your favorite song, Zach?
Zach_Duke: Pat Green - Texas on My Mind.
hbeltz: What is your favorite thing to do before a game?
Zach_Duke: relax, and eat brunch at First Watch.
J-Rich: Hey, I just wanted to know how you felt when you made your MLB debut?
Zach_Duke: i was kind of numb the entire game. my legs were shaking, and the game seemed really fast..
HanleyFan101: Zach, when you're pitching, do you think about how you are going to get a guy out?
Zach_Duke: constantly. that's the only thing i am thinking about.
klasina: Do you like Primanti Bros. Sandwiches?
Zach_Duke: i do, but i wish they had a little more meat, and a little less slaw.
tayday1111: What do you like more: to strike out a great hitter or get a big hit?
Zach_Duke: it depends on the situation of the game. if we need a strikeout that feels great, but if i get a big hit and drive in the go ahead run, that feels equally as good.
tama: Do you envision yourself in coaching after your playing days are over?
Zach_Duke: not at the professional level. the travel schedule is so grueling I would like to be around my family more after I am done playing.
ahue: How much time do you spend on scouting reports? Is it a major part of your pitching plan, or is pitching more a feel thing?
Zach_Duke: we spend a good amount of time going over the scouting report before games, but during the game it is a feel. the scouting report gives you more of a plan of how to get a hitter out based on what you see in the game.
PittBuc1419: Do you like being able to hit in the National League?
mellyx3: Do you and anyone on the team stay in the dugout to watch the fireworks or post-game concerts?
Zach_Duke: for sure. the fireworks shows are spectacular and a free concert is always good entertainment.
dannyray64: Any tips on pitching for a young pitcher?
Zach_Duke: the number one goal for a young pitcher is to be able to locate your pitches, so anytime you are making a throw, throw it with a purpose. whether it's playing catch or off a mound, try to throw the ball to a specific spot.
jaredtyler: Were you a good hitter in high school ball?
Zach_Duke: i was pretty good, i actually signed at college as a two way player.
Zach_Duke: alright guys, i gotta go work out. thanks for the support and I hope to see y'all at the ballpark.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.