From the Pages of Vine Line: Shawn Camp

After eight major league seasons with the Royals, Rays and Jays in the American League, right-handed reliever Shawn Camp signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs just before the start of the 2012 season. This year, the veteran has made 74 appearances, tied for the league lead, and provided stability to a young Cubs bullpen. For the September issue of Vine Line, we talked to the 36-year-old hurler about being a leader, pitching every day and playing the percentages. To read the complete interview, pick up the September issue of Vine Line, available now at select Jewel-Osco, Walgreens, Meier, Barnes & Noble and other Chicago-area retailers.

VETERAN PRESENCE  I look back when I was a rookie, and there were some guys who were veterans and had put in a lot of time. You just kind of sit back, and if there are things where you feel like you can help out in a positive way, you say something … just being proactive and helping [the younger pitchers] when you can.

SHORT-TERM MEMORY  The hardest thing to do when you don’t have success is [having] that short-term memory. It’s something you have to learn to cope with. Sometimes you get lost, and you go out there one night, and you don’t have success. But a lot of guys don’t realize that the next day you may need to go right back out there. You’ve got to be able to let yesterday go—good or bad.

CHANGING THINGS UP  I was always a two-pitch pitcher. But if you break it down into percentages and you only have two pitches, the hitter can be up there thinking fastball or slider and have a 50 percent shot by just sitting on one pitch. The change-up is more of an optical illusion to get hitters, especially right-handers, which has gotten me out of key jams. I learned it from Bruce Walton, who was my bullpen coach in Toronto [and pitched four years in the major leagues]. He told me if he could go back, he would have learned how to establish a fastball and change-up from the beginning. It was a grind, and in 2008 I didn’t have success with it, but I carried it over into 2009 and kept working. Today I feel it’s probably one of my better pitches.

FAN APPRECIATION  I love it [in Chicago]. The fans are great here. They’re true fans, and they support you either way. A lot of places aren’t like that. They don’t have a short-term memory.

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