By Corné Hogeveen
Nelson Figueroa is a former Mets pitchers. He is now an analyst for the Mets network providing his inside on pitching! Here is his Q&A with me!
First of all thanks for making time for answering my questions!
Q 86: Who taught you the most about pitching?
Nelson Figueroa: Obviously I have had a lot of pitching coaches and each one has left their mark. Whether it was a new grip or a new focus or mental preparation or how to deal with not having a good game. But I’d have to say Chuck Kniffin taught me the most about making adjustments and dealing with adversity.
Q 86: How did you attack hitters? What was your game plan?
Nelson Figueroa: I always try to pitch to my strengths and exploit a hitter’s weakness. No free passes by walking them, making them earn their way on and sometimes the best way to get a guy out is to maybe worry about getting the next hitter out and putting him on base (Barry Bonds)
Q 86: How was it to pitch for your hometown Mets?
Nelson Figueroa: Amazin’ It was a dream come true and an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of all my idols who wore the uniform before me.
Q 86: I remember you Mets debut well. How did you calm yourself down on the mound?
Nelson Figueroa: Just had to remind myself that I’ve done this before I’ve got to live in the moment and take it one pitch at a time and execute.
Q 86: Who was the toughest out you ever got in a game?
Nelson Figueroa: Barry Bonds obviously was as good as it gets because he didn’t miss mistakes. Those usually left the park.
Q 86: Who was your roommate with the Mets?
Nelson Figueroa: In the Major Leagues we didn’t have roommates but in AAA it was John Rodriguez.
Q 86: What are you most proud of in your baseball career?
Nelson Figueroa: That I was able to play at such a high level for so long. 19 years all over the world. Most 30th round draft picks last maybe 2 or 3 years.
Q 86: How was it to pitch in Chinese Pro Ball?
Nelson Figueroa: Baseball is baseball all over the world it has its own universal language of balls and strikes. It was incredible to go there 3 years and win 2 championships the fans were incredible and I have made life long friends thanks to that chapter in my career.
Q 86: You went to the post season in CPBL. How was it to pitch in the postseason in CPBL?
Nelson Figueroa: Throughout the season there is about 4,000 fans at games but in the postseason thats where they all come to see the best teams battling it out for the crown. Stadiums are packed and there is no better feeling than seeing the last out and the sea of orange ribbons being thrown from the upper deck cascading down!!! (See YouTube video link at the bottom of the post)
Q 86: You had a great postseason. MVP in the CPBL and you hold the record for most wins in the Taiwan Series. How does that feel? And do people still recognize you there?
Nelson Figueroa: It changed my life changed how I viewed what was important and necessary to winning a championship. Pitching 3 starts in 9 days and to pitch a complete game to win it in 2007 was so surreal. The long hair and goatee and being Puerto Rican help me to stand out but the fans do recognize me often and love to take pics and get autographs. I even learned to do it in Chinese!
Q 86: In the 2009 Venezuelan Winter League you pitched 9 no hit innings and gave up a hit in the 10th. How did that feel? Do you remember who got the hit?
Nelson Figueroa: My closest to ever pitching a no hitter and it didn’t count because we were scoreless after 9. We scored a run in the top of the 10th and there was no way i wasn’t going back out to try and finish it off. But alas it didn’t happen. Alberto Cayaspo got a bloop single to lead off the inning. We still won the game so that’s all that matters.
Q 86: You are now an analyst for SNY. How did you get that job?
Nelson Figueroa: There had been some interest since 2008 about me working for the network once my playing days were over. So after 7 more years of playing I finally decided to move on and Curt Gowdy Jr. invited me to the studios for a screen test and they made me an offer to be the lead studio analyst soon after. It was about being in the right place at the right time and then making the most of a tremendous opportunity.
Q 86: The Mets have a great starting staff. Who do you think has the most upside?
Nelson Figueroa: Most upside has to be Noah Syndergaard. He has the physical tools and the “Thor” mentality that makes him an Ace amongst Aces on this staff. Plus being only 23 he is still learning at the Major League level. He has already added a slider to his repertoire this spring to go along with 100mph fastball, nasty curve and underrated changeup.
Q 86: Any under the radar pitchers we should keep an eye on for the Mets?
Nelson Figueroa: Hard to call any of the starters under the radar but I think people may not realize how good Zach Wheeler is until he returns from pitching with elbow issues that whole 2014 season.
Q 86: What do you expect from Zach Wheeler as he returns?
Nelson Figueroa: Still early but I think if he has used the time off to watch and learn from the other guys like Harvey and DeGrom he should have a better idea of how to attack hitters and how to formulate a game plan.
Q 86: What do you expect from the Mets in 2016?
Nelson Figueroa: Barring injuries they will make the playoffs again and drawing off of that experience from last season it will carry them to get back to the World Series.
Nelson Figueroa: Dank u en LAAT GAAN METS.
DSI: You are a great analyst and know a lot about pitching. I always liked you as a pitcher. You knew how to pitch! Keep up the great work!
Thanks again for participating and hope you liked the questions I send! Greetings from Holland!
Here is a great clip about Nelson Figueroa his time in the CPBL with the Uni-President Lions. 2007 and 2013.