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Nine Innings with Adam Plutko
By Phil Stanton
right-hander Adam Plutko will anchor the UCLA pitching staff in
2012. A native of Glendora, Calif., Plutko was the Sunday
starter for the Bruins as a freshman, going 7-4 in 16 outings
with a 2.01 ERA. He allowed 24 walks and struck out 92 in 107.2
innings, while opponents hit just .193 against him. Plutko was
named All-Pac-10 and was a Freshman All-American. He was taken
in the sixth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.
Plutko recently took time
to answer our questions.
First Inning – You were a teammate of two
outstanding pitchers last year in Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole.
What did you learn from Bauer?
I’ve learned a lot from him about pitching, about
mixing up pitches, when to throw offspeed and selecting
different pitch locations. He had a fantastic season last year,
and being able to watch him deal with pressure and success
taught me how to handle the spotlight.
Second Inning – What did you learn from Cole?
Gerrit was an instrumental
part of our team, our pitching staff and our success. Being able
to watch him take the ball every Friday night and set the tone
for our team was very valuable for me. He also showed me how to
work and succeed as a power pitcher.
Inning – What were the other keys for your success as a freshman
I was able to work on my mental game, in
particular, working with our mental skills coach Ken Ravizza.
Our head coach, John Savage, helped me adjust to the college
game and overcome my inexperience at this level. My teammates
were a huge factor in my success because they always supported
Fourth Inning – How beneficial was it for you
to have worked with veteran catcher Steve Rodriguez last season?
Having Steve behind the plate was one of most the
beneficial things for me, particularly as a freshman. Having a
veteran behind the plate who was also a team captain really
helped me with any situation on the mound.
Fifth Inning – What are your thoughts about
taking over as the ace for the Bruins?
I’m excited, and I’m ready for a new challenge. I
like that target on my back and I want to fully embrace it.
Sixth Inning – Has any newcomer caught your
eye in practice for UCLA?
I don’t think there’s one person who I could
pinpoint. But as a whole, our incoming hitters have really
stepped up. I’m excited to see how they’re going to help our
team this year.
Inning – What should we expect from the Bruins in 2012?
I expect our team to go to Omaha and win the
College World Series. That’s been our goal since day one and
we’re working hard to get there.
Eighth Inning – Your sister, Sara, was a
three-year letterwinner in soccer at Oregon. Did she offer any
advice on being a collegiate student-athlete?
She helped me a lot with the academic side of
things. She not only excelled as a soccer player, but she was
very accomplished in the classroom. She earned all-academic
honors every year. She has really helped me with the student
part of being a student-athlete.
Ninth Inning – What were the biggest factors
in your decision to delay your professional career after high
school to attend UCLA?
One of the factors was location. I’d rather spend
my time at a great university in Westwood, compared to being in
a remote town that has maybe 1,000 people living there. Also,
having the opportunity to work with John Savage, who I believe
is the best pitching coach in the country, was something that I
could not turn down.
(photos courtesy of UCLA Media