Up until he was optioned to Fresno on July 25, right-handed reliever Jake Dunning had some of the best numbers in the San Francisco Giants bullpen. I sat down with him the day before he left to join the Grizzlies to discuss his first few months as a big leaguer, his take on Dave Righetti, and more.
Note: Though this was originally intended to be a video interview, people talking and other loud noises in the dugout that day prevented me from posting the video due to its poor sound quality. I’m working on acquiring a microphone to prevent this in the future.
What’s it like playing in front of 42,000 fans here at AT&T Park?
It’s a great feeling. These fans here make me feel really special and they do a great job. Obviously, with there being 200 plus consecutive sellouts, you can’t say enough about these fans.
What were the fans like in San Jose? There’s a pretty good following for minor league baseball there and in Fresno and there’s a particular group of fans that are pretty fond of you. Do you ever miss the small-town feel of those fans?
The fans in San Jose, I really appreciated those fans. I had a good time while I was there and it’s not too far from here so they make the trip and travel up here a lot so I still see some of them.
At what point did you have a really good feeling you could play baseball, not only at a collegiate level, but at a professional level, as well?
I really don’t know when it hit me. I’m still working forward and working every day. I mean, it’s not a guarantee that I’ll be here so I’m still working.
Describe the moment you were called up to the Giants.
I was told by my manager in Triple-A (Bob Mariano) after an extra-inning game, and it was a pretty long one. It was pretty exciting. I called my parents first at probably four or five o’clock in the morning and they answered and I asked them if they could grab a little picture of me from my bedroom and said, “Hey, you’re going to have to make it out to Pittsburgh.”
Now that you’ve had a month here until your belt, have you felt your emotions and your nerves calm? Have you gotten into the groove of being here?
I’m still just taking it day-by-day and staying with the process. I’ve tried to keep my game the exact same, the same game since I was 10-years old.
Have there been any guys here in the bullpen that have maybe taken you under their wing? Guys that have really been encouraging to you?
Everybody here, from the coaching staff to the bullpen staff, starters to our position players. Every one of these guys has made me feel special. I can’t say enough about these guys.
Describe Dave Righetti not only as a pitching coach, but as a person.
So far what I’ve gotten to know of “Rags” is that he’s a great guy. He obviously knows what he is doing seeing that he’s been here for a very long time. His overall persona is a great guy and he’s down to earth. He knows how to get guys to win and I think that’s what everyone here wants to do, is win.
Which pitch are you most confident in at the moment?
I have confidence in all of my pitches.I feel like I can throw all of them in any count so I don’t try to just work on one of them, I try to work on them all.
I’ve been hearing some rumors in Fresno that there is one particular player that misses you more than the rest: Brett Pill. What’s your friendship like with Brett?
Brett is a great guy and a great baseball player. I know we definitely missed him when he was up here and I was in Fresno. He’s a great guy to have on your team.