Interview with T.J. McFarland of the Norfolk Tides

Elaina Ellis/Norfolk Tides

Ted Warren recently had the chance to chat with Norfolk Tides T.J. McFarland. The 24-year-old left-handed pitcher is from Palos Park, Illinois. McFarland arrived in Birdland after being plucked from Cleveland in the Rule 5 draft before the 2013 season.

After spending all of 2013 as a relief pitcher with the Orioles, T.J. McFarland started this season in the rotation for the Norfolk Tides. In two starts he has pitched nine innings with just one earned run allowed, two walks, 10 strikeouts, and 14 ground outs against just two fly outs. If he can keep that up, a promotion to the Orioles is likely in his future. Get to know a little about McFarland's background and game here.

Can you tell us a little bit about growing up in Illinois and the baseball following there?

Illinois was cold. We played in March when it still would snow. The first game would be called off for snow. I started when I was 5. I had to sneak on to the t-ball team because I was too young. Ever since then, I've been playing every summer.

Draft Day 2007--what was going through your head when Cleveland drafted you?

It was a big day. I had a little bit of a buzz in terms of getting drafted or not. I remember watching on the internet and I got a phone call within a second of them calling my name. I talked to Cleveland and from there it was awesome. I was still debating about going to college or not because I had committed to go to Missouri, but things worked out.

The Rule 5 draft brought you to Baltimore. What can you tell us about the Rule 5 Draft?

After your fifth full season out of the high school draft, if you're not protected on the 40-man, you get the opportunity to go into the Rule 5 draft which means another team can pick you up. I was fortunate enough to get picked up by Baltimore. The rule with that was I had to be in the big leagues for the whole year or otherwise I would get sent back and I ended up sticking.

Can you talk to us about making your first MLB game against the Yankees?

I remember coming out into the new Yankee Stadium and just being in awe for the first minute or so. I was able to calm my nerves and pitch a little bit. It was a once in a lifetime experience for the first time ever to go out into Yankee stadium. It was pretty intimidating, but I was able to get through it.

What type of pitches do you throw?

I mainly throw sinkers, which is a fastball that just sinks and I'll throw a slider and a change up.

Which one is your go-to pitch?

Sinker is my go-to pitch; we get a whole lot of ground balls. I rely on contact to get outs. Sinker is my go-to, but change up and slider are good secondary pitches.

How are you using your time in Norfolk to improve your game?

Right now I'm working on the change up. Last year I didn't start at all so being down here gives me a chance to start every fifth day and get some work in. The change up is a big pitch for me as a starter.

Growing up near Chicago were you a White Sox or Cubs fan?

I grew up on the south side of Chicago so it's White Sox. My whole family is except my sister.

Follow Ted on Twitter @Bauerhockeydude

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