Ohio State junior right-handed pitcher Mike Madsen says he was always pretty small growing up. He always enjoyed sports, and took a keen interest in baseball, mostly because his size didn’t matter. Now in his third season on the mound for the Buckeyes, Madsen has gone from relief out of the bullpen into the starting rotation. Perhaps his biggest performance came at the 2003 Auburn regional when he threw a near complete game to defeat the host Tigers. The Buckeyes beat Auburn again the next day and came back to Columbus to play host to the NCAA super regional at Bill Davis Stadium.
Last season you really stepped up at the end and had a big win in the Auburn regional. How were you able to improve yourself from the beginning of the season?
“I was mainly pitching in relief. Throughout the course of the year I was getting a little more starts in the Wednesday games. “Then I had the opportunity to pitch at the Auburn regional. Pitching in that game was incredible. I was happy that the team won and we carried on to the super regional.”
Have you always been a pitcher, even when you were younger?
“Yes, I have been a pitcher for as long as I can remember. I was always smaller than everybody else and pitching was one way I could be the center of attention. I had a feeling of power on the mound because nothing could happen in the game until a pitch was thrown.”
What is your best pitch?
“I would like to say all my pitches are pretty even, but my fastball is the one pitch that has gotten me where I am today. I love to throw the change-up. It is one of the greatest feelings in the world is watching a hitter swing and miss on a change-up. You fooled a hitter so much that he committed to the pitch.”
At what age did you first learn how to throw pitches like a change-up, curveball, etc.?
“I started learning how to throw a curveball when I was about 12. I think I learned the change-up before that.” Why do you like pitching?
“I think it’s because of the one-on-one competition I have with the hitter. I don’t think you get that being a position player. You have complete control over whether that person can get a hit or not. Pitching requires a lot of mental toughness. You have to know what pitch to throw on what count and where to place it. You can’t really teach that.”
How important is the catcher’s role to a pitcher?
“Having a good catcher behind the plate, both defensively and the way he calls the game, really helps out a pitcher incredibly. It’s nice knowing you’re on the same page as the catcher and he’s calling the same pitch you’re thinking about throwing in your head.”
What goals did you set for yourself for the 2004 season?
“I set out to win every game I pitch. I at least want to be able to keep my team in it so we have the opportunity to win. I think just to win the Big Ten right now is a huge goal of ours and whatever I can do to help the team win I will do.”
Was baseball ever a family tradition for you?
“My dad was the one who got me in the sport and taught me how to play. He didn’t play much but he taught my brother and I. We are one year apart so we would always play together when we were younger. We have been around baseball our whole lives.
Is there anyone who plays professionally that you look up to or model your game after?
“My favorite pitcher is Pedro Martinez. He’s not the biggest guy in the Major Leagues but he really attacks hitters. He’s got no fear on the mound and I really admire that.”
What is your favorite Major League team?
” I don’t really have a team I follow that much. I grew up in Cleveland so I like the Indians but I don’t really have a favorite. I really haven’t been to that many ballparks other than when we played at Jacobs Field and Minute Maid Park. That is something I would like to do someday.
What do you plan to major in?
“I’m in sociology right now and I like it because it’s so broad. I think I would like to go into coaching one day and that would help me. I am thinking about maybe getting a minor in psychology.”
What level would you like to coach?
“I would like to be a pitching coach on a high school team. I have been getting pitching instruction since I was little so I grew up going to pitching lessons. Through my experience of being developed into a pitcher, I would like to help develop another young arm.”