Maryland right-handed pitcher Mike Shawaryn is coming off of a sophomore season in which he broke several school records and was named to first-Team All American teams. He was 13-2 with 1.71 earned run average in 17 starts.His 24 career wins are already the all-time best in Maryland Baseball program history. Shawaryn also pitched for the Collegiate Team USA this summer and was nominated to the Golden Spikes Award, which is awarded annually to a top collegiate player.
Entering his junior year season, Shawaryn is likely to be drafted by an MLB team next June, but he says he's focused on helping Maryland get to Omaha, Neb., and the College World Series.
Testudo Times caught up with him to see how he's been getting ready for the big spring.
Sung Min Kim: So, how's your arm doing?
Mike Shawaryn: It feels good. I've been throwing bullpens. It feels good, strong and healthy - which are all the good things you wanna hear.
SMK: What kind of intensity do they let you guys throw in bullpens?
MS: It's been different a kind of fall because our field is getting renovated. It's kind of flipped. Because in past falls, we had an ease-in period where we throw a lot of bullpens and get back into swing of things by playing scrimmages. This year, we wanted to get on the field as much as possible before renovations started. So we went straight into playing intersquads and we are going to have three games this weekend for our Fall World Series, and after that it's gonna be the ease-in period. So, now it's a bit of an ease-down period where we just do our bullpen stuff. I've liked it. We threw in a lot of younger underclassmen into the fire right away, especially for the freshmen trying to get adjusted on campus by doing intra-squadding and scrimmages. I think the younger guys are also starting to pick up some stuff. As for me, I hadn't thrown in two months. Going back out there, getting the ball in my hands and into competition - it's a good feeling. Bullpens are great to work on stuff but you can't really replicate that feel of competing.
SMK: Does [pitching coach] Jim Belanger control everything for now?
MS: Yes, he does a real good job of creating a fall plan for us. And then we'll get together in meetings and talk about what's gonna happen in winter and then you come back and we talk about what's going to happen in spring. Not only he does a good job making a plan and sticking to it, he individualizes it, too. It's not like, "Everybody has to long-toss 400 feet today." (It's more like,) "What's your arm feeling like? Did you feel pain yesterday? Did you not throw a bullpen?" It's real easy to play for him in general because he's worried about getting me to the next level and making my arm feel better.
SMK: Do innings pitched in previous season matter as well?
MS: That's why you see that we may not go and play summer ball or be shut down in the fall. At the end of the day, the big goal is in the spring towards the Big Ten Championship and national championship. That definitely does take an affect on what we're doing.
SMK: What has more emphasis at this time of the offseason: flexibility or muscle strength?
MS: Little bit of both. You're always working on your body getting stronger and healthier. Sometimes, getting your body stronger means getting more flexible. For me right now, it's maintaining the strength - stabilizing and staying flexible. As much as weights are important so is flexibility. If your ligaments and muscle start to tighten up you're going to feel something here and there. As much as you wanna get stronger and bigger, it's important to keep the flexibility. At this point, you want to have a good balance of both - it's a year-around thing in fall and spring.
SMK: To maintain flexibility, what do you guys do? A group yoga session?
MS: No, we just make sure before and after we lift, we get a real good stretching. For pitchers, we have a stretch routine before tossing as well. If your muscle feels tight you go to a trainer and he'll stretch you out. It's about taking care of your body, feeling good, strong and healthy.
SMK: And you guys also do bicycles. I saw the video of you and two other pitchers, and I don't know what was the deal with that.
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MS: It was an extra work. We were done lifting and we wanted to do a little conditioning. We were having fun with it. That's the motto of the team this year - we are serious but at the same time we like to have fun. We know when it's time to get down to business - we are going to work our butts off but we do like to have fun and blow some steam.
SMK: The Maryland baseball team lost some members to the MLB Draft last year, but there are a lot of freshmen coming in. How do you think they are doing, and how will they factor in replacing those empty spots?
MS: They're doing great. Every year, we don't rebuild. We replace. For every guy leaving, we are bringing just as good guys. We are always right where we need to be. The guys coming in have great talents. Not even just freshmen but also younger guys that didn't play much last year. They didn't play much last year but summer ball really helped them. We got a lot of guys coming back with experience. I'm 100 percent positive we'll have freshmen step up big this year. That's the atmosphere of the program. Guys as a freshman want the ball on Friday nights, ninth inning, bases loaded, etc. We want the tough guys who will come in and get the job done. It could not be pretty - or it could be - but we are in the business of getting results. Whether it's 4-3 or 15-6, it doesn't matter, a win's a win. It doesn't matter what the score is in Omaha as long as we have more runs than the other team.
SMK: Have you been - because you're a junior - stepping as a mentor for younger guys?
MS: For sure. Whether I was a sophomore, freshman or junior - we are all trying to help each other. If a freshman sees something that I may be doing wrong, then they tell me. If I see something wrong - freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, I tell them. In the end of the day, we just wanna get better. I'm not going to hold something back to make our team better. We all have goals and when we're practicing we only have short time to get better.
SMK: What are some things that you do now in the fall that you won't have time for in spring?
MS: Right now, it's all about the academics. Knowing that the spring is going to be hectic and baseball-packed, you're really focused on classes. That's obviously a big thing. That's reason why you come here - to get your degree. Any other free time, I like to just hang out with the team, my roommates, my girlfriend - just hang out, have some fun and relax. You're always on the go - whether it's class, practice or whatever. So any downtime you have, you just sit back and relax. It's been great with playoff baseball: I've watched every game or at least I've tried to.
SMK: Who's your team right now [in the MLB playoffs]?
MS: I don't know - I want the Royals to win it this year. The Cubs and Mets look really strong. It'll be interesting. I don't know if my pick will win it all but it's been one heck of a playoff. I can only imagine what it'll be like when the World Series rolls around. It's cool watching the playoffs and thinking we had the opportunity to play at high levels last year at super regionals and the regionals where all the spotlight was on University of Maryland playing UCLA. That's a huge type of game and for us, it was like an equivalent to Royals - Astros series [which ended Wednesday]. That's cool to think that, at our level right now, we made it to the point where it's fun to be in that kind of atmosphere. We can relate to those type of games. That's one of the cool things you just sit back and think like we played in those high-intensity games. It's neat and funny at same time. I was watching the Royals and Astros game - when Astros were up four runs and Royals came back for more. You'll see how you remember the plays in big-time situations in the regionals and super regionals, and you feel like, "That happens to us too!" It's cool to see that baseball doesn't change level-to-level. The guys in the majors are still doing mistakes we're told not to do. I think as a baseball fan, this playoffs has been the best I've seen.
SMK: My favorite was 2011 with the entire Game 162 deal and the dramatic World Series going on (Cardinals vs. Rangers).
MS: 2008 was my favorite playoffs year ever because the Phillies won it all. But this year, it's cool to see the teams that made drastic changes make it far - such as the Cubs. They are fun, exciting and young. [Jake] Arrieta is one of the funnest guys to watch - just attacks the zone. He does just everything Belanger tells us to do and it's all true - look at the success he's had. He's always around and attacking the zone. He's also a huge competitor. The guy goes out and gives it 110 percent from pitch one.
SMK: At this point, on campus, do people run into you and recognize you?
MS: Not really. At the same time, I'm kind of a laid-back guy. I'm not gonna really go out and flaunt that. I just do my business. If people recognize me, they recognize me. I'm not in it for the fame. Any ways I could help Maryland in these past two years as a Saturday starter and Friday starter have been great. My dad always says, "You're as successful as your last pitch." Going into the offseason, my last pitch, we lost that game to University of Virginia. That's not how I want to end the year - on a loss, not a championship. That definitely gives me fuel to work harder so next year, it doesn't come around again and we're sitting in the same position. It's cool to see how in two years that we made it to regional and super regional. Now we make it to super regional and don't make it to Omaha. We're not sitting in the offseason and saying we're satisfied with that. We're looking forward, and we have tough guys who want to be in Omaha, and we won't be satisfied until we are. That's an awesome atmosphere - lifting every day, practice every day, work out with every day, and in the end of the day it's a good thing to have.
SMK: Have you been getting ready for the upcoming MLB Draft?
MS: It's coming up. It's gonna be on the horizon, but at the same time, it's not a big thing for me. I try to go out and just live day-by-day. A lot of things can happen between 6 a.m. and the next day at 6 a.m. I just focus on what I can control. There's nothing I can do today that will guarantee me anything then. That's the kind of attitude I go with. In the end of the day, I work my butt off to put Maryland in a good position to be in Omaha and winning the whole thing this year. I don't want to have excuses and say "Oh I wish I had done one more." In the end of the season I want to say "I gave it my all. There's nothing I could have ever done." That just means, for whatever reason there's baseball gods, it wasn't our year - or it was our year. And that's what I'm focused on right now. The draft will come and it will happen. But for me right now, it's about getting to Omaha and finally making that jump and hopefully being successful there.
SMK: Last question, are you going to any basketball games?
MS: Yes, I'm a huge basketball fan. I'm gonna try to go to as many as possible. We have a good young team, and I'm very excited to watch. Hope they make far into the NCAA Tournament. That would be very cool.