07/16/2002 3:00 pm ET
Up close and personal with Bere
Cubs starter is on the DL, but answers fan emails
By Jason Bere / Special to MLB.com
Thanks to everyone who emailed questions to Chicago Cubs pitcher Jason Bere. He read all of your emails and we've condensed the questions to make room for the answers. Here goes.
From NitnyLion2: I was wondering how it felt to take those first couple of steps on the big league field, surrounded by screaming fans and everything. I always wanted to play Major League Baseball and just wanted to know.
Bere: My debut was pretty much a day I'll never forget. I've been fortunate enough to pitch in an All-Star Game in '94, pitched in the playoffs in '93, Game 4 against Toronto. But the debut, there's no feeling like that. It's hard to describe. Your legs, you can't feel them. Basically it's what you work hard for all those years. You finally realize the dream. For me, it was with the White Sox and Carlton Fisk and Ozzie Guillen and (Robin) Ventura and Carlton Fisk catching and all those guys I watched growing up, so you can't replace that.
From bball fan: As Cubs fans, we get very frustrated when the main five pitchers do an outstanding job and then the relievers come in and lose the game. Are there tensions in the bullpen between the relievers and the starters?
Bere: I think it's frustrating for everybody. Nobody wants to come in there and not do the job. As starters, when you do have to come out of the game, all you can ask is that the relievers want to get the big outs and want to be out there and we have guys who want that. It's not just blow out games but they want to be in there when the tying run is at third. They want to be able to come in there and bail you out. We're all pitchers and sometimes guys make it look easier than it really is, but it's a pretty tight group and we know how difficult it is to go out there and shut down the offense. We don't have any harsh feelings toward each other.
From NELI: Was Neli a big influence in your life at an early age? Or was it Ron Zwicker?
Bere: Neli was my neighbor across the street and Ron Zwicker was my neighbor to the left of my mother's house growing up. Neli is Mark Nelson. I used to mow his lawn. He would have me cut his lawn twice a week and he would give me $7.50 each time, $15 for the week. The memo on the bottom line of the check would be for being cool. He wouldn't give me cash, he'd give me a check. He had a huge, huge front lawn and he wanted me to cut it like a baseball field with all the patchwork and all that stuff and it was a push mower. It took me a long time -- more than $15 worth.
From David Colvig of Des Moines: Can you give us some thoughts on being the best 1-8 pitcher in the Major Leagues? We all know your record does not reflect your performance on the mound.
Bere: I've stated over and over and over coming into this year, I've stated that sometimes unfortunately that's how a starting pitcher is graded is his record. The first thing someone asks is, "What kind of year did you have?" Last year I was 11-11 but I certainly didn't pitch like I was a .500 pitcher. Being 1-8, how does it feel? I'd rather have someone say, "How does it feel to be one of the better pitchers?" Some people who have watched the games and watched me pitch -- I know there's no "should've" or "could've" and you can't replace that -- but I think the record isn't exactly how it should be.
From Nate Reeder of South Bend, Ind.: I know you've turned things around in the last month and a half. What have been the biggest influences on your turnaround?
Bere: It all comes down to trusting your stuff and the confidence level. I never lost confidence. When things are going well, you feed off that. I've been through tough times and good times. I always say, when things are going good you stay humble and when things aren't going good you keep your head up. I think the organization knows and that's because of the feedback I give them that I'm confident I can pull out of a bad situation. If I have one bad one or two in a row, they know I can string together quality outings. That's what you need as a starting pitcher. It's easy to go out there and pitch when everything feels great and everything's on but you need guys who when things aren't going bad, they can fix it -- and the quicker the better.
Jason Bere, 1-9 with a 5.18 ERA in 15 starts, is currently on the disabled list but expected to be activated soon. Carrie Muskat covers the Cubs for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its teams.