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Interview with injured Braves closer Wagner

Interview with injured Braves closer Wagner

Q. Do you feel you've pitched your last game?

BILLY WAGNER: Maybe. Depends on my teammates now. If they continue doing what they've been doing all year and get to the World Series, maybe I haven't.

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Q. So, based on your answer, then, it sounds to me like you think that there's a possibility that you could pitch again. So this injury, how would you, I guess, define its severity?

BILLY WAGNER: Well, it's painful. There are just certain movements you can't make. You just have to deal with it. I've got a rib brace on right now trying to help give me a little support.

This morning I came in and I got a couple injections and tried to go play catch, and it's at that point right now where I'm not able to. In a week, couple days, maybe it's different.

So we'll just keep pushing along and see what happens, and hopefully I'll get lucky.

Q. How difficult is it? Are you even thinking about the possibility if it did end with that pitch, how difficult is that for you to swallow? And how much of that depends, also, on what happens with the team?

BILLY WAGNER: Well, honestly, I've had a great career and I don't need to define my career by having a successful season. We all would like to draw it up as having a World Series and everybody dog pile on us, but that doesn't happen all the time.

I'm here now to support my teammates and ride coattails and do whatever to get a World Series ring. That is honestly one of the reasons that I came back for this season.

Everybody's asked me all year why am I retiring. Well, it didn't have anything to do with whether I pitched well or didn't pitch well, it was to go out to compete and have a chance to win a ring. Maybe it's not going to happen the way I want it to, and that's just life.

Q. Have you ever dealt with anything similar? And if so, is it something where you think if it was July you'd only miss a week or two weeks?

BILLY WAGNER: I'm never hurt an oblique. I didn't know you could pull fat. I didn't know. I thought only hitters got that stuff.

Q. How'd you throw that pitch after you hurt your oblique?

BILLY WAGNER: Which one? Throwing the pitch to home, or the throw to first? I don't remember. I thought I threw it to Derrek Lee, he said, You didn't throw it to me because I was standing beside you.

So I honestly have no idea how I made that throw because that was a routine double play ball that was bunted back to me that normally you turn two with. When I went down to grab that ball, I knew that I had a better chance of throwing it to Ankiel than to second. So I just tried to make a good throw to first and get it in the vicinity.

I didn't know where it went. I had no idea. All I know is when I threw it, somebody shot me in the side.

Q. You talked about it early in the season and talked about Venters and how impressed you were with his stuff. What about Kimbrel and what he's done since he's come up, piling out the strikeouts?

BILLY WAGNER: The hardest person to hit somebody that gets a lot of swinging misses. He has a rising fastball, and his breaking ball has been probably a little better than what everybody had expected. He's commanded it really well, so he's become very dangerous. He can throw ahead in the count and he can throw for a swing and missed pitch, too. So it kind of gives you that two headed monster when he's out there.

I think when he came up first early in the year he was probably overwhelmed a little bit, just wasn't ready for the mental aspect of not pitching every day and being as controlled. Because when you get to the big leagues, you become a suspect instead of a prospect. He wasn't used to that way. In the Minor Leagues he was getting two innings and a couple days off, an inning here, and a couple days off. When you get to the big leagues, it's be ready to go.

He was having some times where he was sitting for a long time, but when he came back the second and third time, he was a different kid. He was mentally ready to be in this bullpen. He's probably, what he's showing right now, mentally ready to be in that closer's role and continue to do what he's doing right now.

He's exciting. He pounds that strike zone, and he's a tough guy to face right now.

Q. As you've gone along the course of the season convincing people yes, I really am going to retire, how much time have you given to thinking about sort of the totality of your career and what you're proud of and the sort of things that you're going to take out of these years?

BILLY WAGNER: Well, I haven't thought about it, to be honest with you.

We're only playing baseball. We're not changing anybody's lives. I don't look at it that way. I've enjoyed it. It's allowed me to really do a lot of things for my family and for my community. But as far as looking back and saying trying to dig myself a little bit, I don't do that.

Q. Considering the successful season you had and the unfortunate way it possibly could have ended, have you at all thought about coming back for one final year?

BILLY WAGNER: No.

Q. When you walked in the ballpark today, did you really think there was a chance you'd be able to go, or were you just kind of humoring?

BILLY WAGNER: Well, I was hoping. I really was. I felt there was a chance. I felt pretty good. I felt considerably better than the night before, and there's a lot more movement and things that I could do.

So, yeah, I was hoping for a miracle. I was hoping that I'd be able to get that shot and it would help me enough that I could suck it up and go out there and compete.

When I got to throwing and I couldn't move, it's not right for my teammates to try to push that.

Q. Did you even get the ball out of your hand?

BILLY WAGNER: Yeah, I threw. The problem is that I can pitch, but I can't move any further than that. And you know, I don't know how long I could actually make -- stay out there. It just kept spasming and getting further up under my ribs so that I was really starting to have trouble breathing.

Q. I just wanted to ask, when did you get the injections, last night or this morning?

BILLY WAGNER: This morning. They said that -- I had been taking pain pills since it happened, and then just they came in and I talked them into giving me shots to numb it. They said normally they wouldn't do that because you run the risk of really tearing.

But I got asked numerous times: Are you sure you're retiring? Are you sure you're retiring? Because they didn't want to run that risk that if I did get the shot and I went out and pitched and tore that muscle worse, that it would hamper me for maybe next year. I thought it was worth the risk to go out there and give it the best effort and maybe get lucky.

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