I recently had the chance to sit down with Tulsa Drillers reliever Coty Woods, a right-hander who enters Wednesday night's game against Frisco with a 3-0 record and an ERA of 0.00. In 19 appearances, Woods has not allowed a run and has seven saves.
Kevin Henry: What has been your formula for success so far this season?
Coty Woods: I've been getting ahead of the hitters. As a late-inning guy, you have to get ahead of the hitters to do your job.
Henry: Talk about your mindset coming out of the bullpen.
Woods: I was a closer in college as well, so I'm accustomed to late innings. I like those kind of situations where one pitch could win or lose the game. At the same time, you can't put too much pressure on yourself. You can't think too much when you're out there. You just have to throw the ball and do your job.
Henry: What was your focus in the offseason?
Woods: I wanted to get stronger. I've always been a lighter guy so I wanted to come into camp stronger and with more arm strength.
Henry: What have been your impressions of the Double-A level?
Woods: The hitters are much better, smarter, and more disciplined. You can't get away with an 0-2 fastball thrown in the wrong spot.
Henry: You've almost split the total number of team saves this year with Josh Sullivan. How has that platoon situation been for you?
Woods: It's been nice. We've had a lot of close games and I don't think I could've handled all of the save situations by myself. Going into the season, (Tulsa manager Duane Espy) told us that we'd be splitting duties so we were both prepared for it.
Henry: What is your routine if you know you might be called upon in the late innings?
Woods: Around the fifth inning, I start looking at the lineup to see who might be coming up in the ninth. I start watching the batters closer and closer because I want to know if it looks like a guy is wanting to pull a fastball when he's at the plate.
Henry: When you found out you'd be playing in Tulsa, what were your goals for this season?
Woods: Once I found out I was going to be one of the closers, I wanted to be in the top part of the league in saves. I also wanted to work more on getting left-handed batters out. That's been tough for me and I know it's just a mindset. I've been working on that.
Henry: Talk about the relationship with your catchers.
Woods: Lars (Davis) and Jose (Gonzalez) do a great job behind the plate and they picked up very quickly on what I wanted to do when I come into the game. I also know that those guys have been catching for eight innings when I come into the game, so I trust them. I have to be focused on my pitch and trust them. It's worked out well.