Matulis proves patience is a virtue
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 17:06
Chris Matulis didn't throw a single pitch in a single game this season, but was drafted in the 29th round of last week's MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
UCF baseball head coach Terry Rooney recruited Matulis out of Park Vista High School to pitch at LSU, but never coached him, as Rooney left for UCF before Matulis got to college. After two successful seasons as a starter at LSU, Matulis decided to transfer to UCF to play for the coach who recruited him. The Central Florida Future caught up with the left-hander who sat the season out, abiding by NCAA transfer rules and recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Central Florida Future: How surprised were you to see that you were drafted after not pitching at all this season?
Chris Matulis: I was actually really surprised. I knew there was a chance of it happening. Coach Rooney and I have gone over that and I think I've heard of it happening, but I didn't even know until my dad texted me and told me, ‘Hey, you just got drafted.' And I looked at the computer and saw my name. It was pretty exciting and weird all at the same time.
CFF: You had an impressive 11-5 record at LSU after two years. Why did you choose to leave LSU for UCF?
Matulis: I got Tommy John surgery over the summer, and I got recruited by coach Rooney out of high school, and I always planned on pitching for coach Rooney. I had to sit out a year regardless because of the elbow injury so when the opportunity arose, I thought it would make sense. It was closer to home, and I got a chance to pitch for coach Rooney, so I jumped at the opportunity.
CFF: What does it mean for you to be re-recruited by coach Rooney?
Matulis: It means a lot. He's got a great reputation as far as a recruiter and a coach, and he's done a lot with the program so far. You know, we got to a regional this year and we were close to pulling some games and close to winning the regional, and I'm just looking for better things in the future. He's a great pitching coach, and I'm looking forward to helping the team next year.
CFF: So you will stick around to play at UCF for a season or two before you go pro?
Matulis: Yes. I plan on coming back next year and pitching for UCF and helping the team.
CFF: How hard was it to see the Knights play this season and not be able to join them?
Matulis: It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done, you know, because you go through the whole fall and spring with the team, working out and doing all that kind of stuff and going through with the grind with the team with practicing and everything and then when it comes down to game time, you can only watch and not be able to help. I try to do my part, help out some of the freshmen and get on the dugout, keeping guys up, but it was really difficult.
CFF: What was your role on the team this season?
Matulis: This season, it was pretty much just trying to be as much of a team leader as I could and kind of keep the attitude up in the dugout and just kind of help where I could; like if I could offer any help to some of the pitchers, like if I noticed anything, or just talking baseball, pretty much. I couldn't do too much. They're a great group of guys and I've learned a lot from them, so it was just so far past the emotional leader of the dugout.
CFF: What has coach Rooney been able to teach you so far?
Matulis: So far, it's been a little limited, but he's helped me out with every bullpen [session] he can get to. And every time I throw, usually he's there to try to make sure my mechanics are right … so that I can be the best pitcher as possible when I get back to 100 percent and I'm throwing in games. He knows the game of baseball; he knows pitching.
CFF: How are you recovering so far from your surgery?
Matulis: Real well, real well; thank you. Surgery is about 10 months out, little more than 10 months out, and it's been a long 10 months but the arm feels good; everything feels good. I feel strong and I'm ready to go.
CFF: What would you say your best pitches are?
Matulis: My best pitches are probably fastball and changeup. I can complement that with a curve ball, but probably my best pitch is my changeup.
CFF: What kind of pitcher are you?
Matulis: I can't really tell right now because I haven't pitched in so long and things have changed. I've gotten stronger. I might be a power pitcher when I get back or I might be just a location guy; I don't really know yet. I'd like to believe I can do a little bit of both.
CFF: Is there a certain kind of role that you're hoping to earn next season?
Matulis: I'm hoping to be in the weekend rotation and get as many wins, as many innings as I possibly can.
CFF: Were you part of the weekend rotation with LSU?
Matulis: I was in and out of the weekend rotation my sophomore year, and I was a midweek starter my freshman year.
CFF: What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
Matulis: Just the opportunity to get with the guys again and go through the fall and get to the spring and help the team and find a way to get to Omaha – the ultimate goal. And that's what I'm looking forward to.