EVT was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with brand new 2016 San Diego Padres bullpen coach Doug Bochtler. He had some very memorable moments as a Padres setup man and it is a pleasure to see him return to the team in this capacity.
His six-year major league career started with the Padres in 1995 when he went 4-4 with 3.57 ERA in 34 games and 45.1 innings pitched. Bochtler was not drafted by the Padres but was instead selected by the Montreal Expos in the ninth round of the 1989 draft.
He was then selected by the Colorado Rockies in the MLB expansion draft. He only spent eight months in the Rockies system before the Padres acquired him with Andy Ashby and Brad Ausmus for Greg Harris and Bruce Hurst in July of 1993. A fantastic trade for the Padres.
Bochtler had an excellent 1995 rookie season, but his 1996 season was fantastic. He went 2-4 in 63 games recording a 3.02 ERA and struck out 68 batters. He also earned three saves for the Padres when Trevor Hoffman was not available. He was dealt by the team after the 1997 season and ended his six-year major league career with a 9-18 record and a 4.57 ERA. He appeared in 220 games and threw 260 innings in his major league career. He has played for 10 different organizations and coached for another in his long baseball career.
Since retiring for baseball he has been very active in youth baseball being one of the founding members of the Cherokee Facility of Knoxville Tennessee. An indoor baseball and softball training facility for young players. You may find them at CherokeeBaseball.com.
For the last six seasons he has worked in the Arizona Diamondback organization as a pitching coach in Low A-Ball Kane Country. The entertaining Bochtler had much to say as we spoke about PED’s, Tony Gwynn, A.J. Preller and managers Bruce Bochy and Andy Green. We would really like to thank Mr. Bochtler for taking the time to speak with us.
What was your reaction from being selected in the expansion draft by the Rockies?
I was a bit surprised to be taken having been injured the year before. When you get drafted like that its a bit of a shock. You never really look at going anywhere else. I was happy anyways and I started the dream to the major leagues with another organization.
Prior to 1994 and in both the Expos and Rockies organization you exclusively started. What was your reaction when the Padres decided to make you into a relief pitcher?
In 1994 I was listed as one of the prized starting pitcher prospects in the Arizona Fall League. When they made the call in spring training of 1995, they contacted me and told me they wanted me to pitch as a long reliever and learn what it was like to pitch in the major leagues. So I was originally supposed to get my feet wet and learn a little bit at the professional level, then go into the rotation in 1996. However I did a pretty good job pitching in the late inning pressure roles and that was more valuable to them at the time. My second game in the major leagues I pitched against the Giants and came in with guys on first and second with two outs. Barry Bonds was up. I ended up getting him out and it was a tight ball game. From that point on I didn’t pitch before the seventh inning for the next three years. It was one of those things where the pressure didn’t bother me and they saw the value in that and my stuff actually picked up a little bit out of the pen as well.
Did you ever have any ambition of starting again?
No, it really didn’t matter at that point. The way I was raised, whoever was writing the paycheck was telling you what you’re doing. They told me they wanted me to be a reliever so I was a reliever. It was completely up to my employer essentially. I didn’t really have a dog in that fight.
Your 1996 season was very impressive. How surreal was that moment for you?
It was obviously a great season for the team and to be a part of that was awesome. It was cool to be relied upon by a group of people who were doing something very special. That’s what is all about. Individual stuff doesn’t mean as much as team accomplishments.
You are commonly known for your changeup. Who originally taught you the chaneup?
Actually as part of growing up in the Montreal Expos organization, the changeup was a pitch we were all mandated to throw. It was part of our daily throwing program. Mike Parrott was extremely helpful with that. Sitting down and having conversations with people as far as when to use the changeup, how to use it and what the focus was. Bryn Smith was extremely knowledgeable and picking his brain one day while we were on the Rockies organization was how I developed the changeup into my second best pitch.
How did you help Trevor Hoffman develop his changeup?
He and I were catch partners and that’s kind of something that happened organically. We were pitching on the same days and because of that we had the similar needs out of our arms and how to care for it. I can remember Trevor coming around and talking to me and another guy named Ron Villone who was on the team in San Diego that year as well. We were both fastball/changeup guys. I can remember a conversation with Trevor where I asked him why are you worrying about a changeup when you throw 95 and have a great curveball.?He simply told me that he wasn’t always going to throw 95. Trevor found a grip he was comfortable with. As we were playing catch one day he threw me a changeup and I missed it. It went right between my legs. I kind of looked up at him again and asked if he could do that again? He said “I think so”. He threw it again and I barely got leather on it. I told him “Trevor, I think you found it.” He was such a dedicated worker when it came to perfecting things. He was obsessed with being perfect. He was able to take that pitch and do things most athletes only dream of.
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