August 15, 2008

Correia Pitches Well in Return Home

By John Philip Wyllie

Former Grossmont High School and J.C. star Kevin Correia returned to his San Diego roots earlier this month when he was on the mound for the San Francisco Giants. The 27 year old Correia turned in 6 solid innings, but with little run support the Giants eventually succumbed to Padres 4-1 behind one of Greg Maddux’s better efforts.

Correia began his career in San Francisco as a reliever. By the end of last year he had nailed down the number five slot in a rotation that also includes the much heralded Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito. He has remained there all season. Despite a record of 2-6, Correia has generally acquitted himself well on the hill this season. But with the Giants anemic offense it is a real challenge for him to get into the win column.

We spoke prior to game one of that series.

“It is always fun coming back to the city where you learned to play baseball and grew up watching the local team. My roots are here and I still live here in the off-season. It is nice to be able to sleep in your own bed for a few nights. That’s a bonus. A lot of the guys that I played with in high school are still playing and some of them still live here, so it’s nice to get to see them after being away for a few months.”

Former Grossmont star Kevin Correia now pitches for the Giants

Correia credits his father for guiding him on to the road to success.

“My dad and I were always doing something baseball oriented when I was growing up. He helped me to get better and helped me to keep my focus on baseball all throughout high school and college and up to the Major League level.”

He also had some quality coaching along the way.

“Bob Philips at Grossmont High School was definitely a coach that helped me along. He gave me the opportunity to play there. From there I moved on to Grossmont Junior College where I played for Ed Olsen. At that point I wasn’t sure if I was going keep playing baseball, but he stayed on me and had me come out for the team. I think that is where I really took off as a player.”

Growing up, playing in the Majors seemed like a faraway dream for Correia.

“I wasn’t drafted out of high school, so I was just looking to play in college. You really don’t think it is going to happen. You realize how hard it is. It wasn’t until I made it to the minor leagues that I thought I might have a good chance of doing it. In college there are a lot of good players, so it was just a question of gaining the confidence and moving up to each level.”

Having fulfilled his dream of playing in the Major Leagues Correia is now focused on staying there. He has the benefit of learning from one of the best in Lincecum and he is constantly trying to improve.

“I have learned a lot and worked my way back into the starting rotation. It’s nice to be one the guys going out there every five days. My pitches are developing and I am pretty much where I want to be right now in having a consistent role.”

Having been both reliever and a starter in his brief Major League career Correia can speak from a position of authority about both.

“With relieving, you have to be mentally prepared to play every day. You never know when you are going to get in there so there are not a lot of mental breaks. The preparation is a little different. You can’t do as much daily because you have to be prepared to pitch every night. As a starter, you really go over the hitters you are going to be facing that day. The conditioning is a little bit different too. Both starting and relieving have difficult aspects to them, but starting suits me a little better.”

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