Gregory Scott "Woody" Williams was the guest for the 17 January 2007 edition of Astroline.
Woody started out by saying he was very, very glad to be home again and finally a Houston Astro–Woody as a youngster was an "Astro Buddy" and talked a bit about how great it was to be a member of the team he grew up cheering for. Being diplomatic, he added that the Padres and Cardinals were also very good to him. He praised Dave Duncan, the Cardinals pitching coach and in the process gave up one of Duncan’s secrets to success, namely, that he studies tapes and charts a lot for every single pitcher on the roster and prepares his pitchers thoroughly, armed with the knowledge gained from that information.
When asked about how age is affecting his conditioning, Woody admitted it takes a lot longer for him to get in shape now–for instance, this year he started his off-season conditioning two weeks before Thanksgiving (and his signing with the Astros) to get ready for spring training.
And as I had mentioned in my blog on November 23rd, Woody had indeed signed with the Astros before Thanksgiving–however, the team wanted to wait until that Friday to make it official. Although puzzled at first, Woody admitted he was pleasantly surprised to see Carlos Lee at the press conference too.
When questioned by a caller about being a fly ball pitcher and how that would affect him at a hitter’s park like Minute Maid, he said most of his fly balls tend to go dead center or center-right field and luckily for him, his new home park has very deep center and right fields so they should be routine outs.
Asked about the Jennings trade, (seems to be a hot topic for every Astroline guest in the past 30 days) Williams said he believes Jennings will be a good fit in Houston and he should have an easy transition to the Astros and Minute Maid Park.
When another caller asked him about how he feels about umpires’ strike zones, Woody explained to the audience the types of pitches he is most comfortable with–fastball, curveball, cut fast-ball, and slider. He said it’s basically "touch-and-feel" with the umpires and over the years he has learned many of their strike zones and he personally strives to pitch to the particular umpire’s zone.
Woody admitted that one of his greatest desires has always been to hit a home run at Minute Maid Park and hoped that he finally gets to do it in an Astros uniform in 2007. He added that one of his greatest joys is to work with young pitchers and help them maximize their potential on and off the field.
On the state of the Astros starting rotation, Williams said it stacks up better than people realize. He believes that Oswalt should be the National League Pitcher of The Year and Lance Berkman is truly under appreciated on the national scene. Mark Loretta is a perfect #2 hitter, but admitted he didn’t know what the Astros and Phil Garner plan for him. He also praised Brad Ausmus for being a great catcher because he prepares the Astros pitchers thoroughly.
I sensed that Woody and quite a few of the current and former Astros pitchers would love to see Ausmus transition to manager or pitching coach once his playing days are over.