Q: What's the biggest adjustment you've had to make in your first full season in the Majors?
Harrell: I would say it's the quality of the hitters. In the Minor Leagues, the guys that are hitting No. 3 and No. 4 in the lineup are hitting in the seventh and eighth spots here in the big leagues. So it has just been about being more consistent, making better pitches and executing every time I'm out there. You get no breaks. Every hitter here can do some damage, so you've got to make consistently good pitches.
Q: What motivates you and what is the strongest part of your game?
Harrell: What motivates me is the fact that I want to show everybody that I can compete at this level for a very long time. The strongest part of my game is definitely my will to win. I want to win every time I go out. I love the feeling. Even when I'm not playing, I'm doing what I can to help the team. I'm usually sitting on the bench cheering guys on, and I just try to contribute any way I can.
Q: How do you prepare and plan for each start?
Harrell: Before the games, I go over the scouting reports with Chris Snyder and (pitching coach) Doug Brocail. So when I go out on the mound, I just try to stay with the game plan we've developed and throw what Snyder calls. He's a veteran guy, and he knows what he's doing back there. I just kind of follow Snyder's lead and go with what he has planned for me.
Q: Chris Snyder has caught for you in most of your games so far this year. Have you two developed a solid rapport?
Harrell: We have a really good thing going. I don't have to shake him off, and I hardly ever do. The few times I have, I've given up hits. So that has really stuck with me and I've trusted him with his calls.
Q: Has anyone been a mentor for you this year?
Harrell: I've had a lot of different mentors this season, and I've been picking up as much as I can from all the guys. I started developing a different style of curveball when I talked to Brett Myers in Spring Training, so he helped me with my curve. Brocail has helped me work out the kinks in my mechanics with the things I was doing wrong early. I've also learned a lot of stuff from watching Bud (Norris), Wandy (Rodriguez) and even (Jordan) Lyles pitch. So I would say a little bit of everybody, and I've felt like I can learn from everyone here.
Q: Can you talk about the influence your family has had on you?
Harrell: My mom and dad love baseball. Every time that I'm pitching, I feel like they come out on the field with me, because they're what got me here to this point. My parents have made a lot of sacrifices throughout my career, especially when I was in high school and then in my early years in the Minor Leagues when they would come to see me play. Or when they took me to be on Elite teams to gain exposure and get seen. So my parents have definitely played a huge role in my success in baseball.
Q: Your walk-out song is very unique. Why did you choose it?
Harrell: The song is called "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash, and I picked it because I'm just a big fan of him. I really like his music, and it was a song that really sets the tone. I like the tune of it and it gets me pumped up, so I just figured it would be a good one for my walk-out song.
Q: If you could describe the current team in one word what would it be?
Harrell: Hungry. We're young and we want to win. We've got a lot of guys that are trying to establish themselves here and stay here for a long time. So I'd say we're hungry. We definitely fight.
Chris Peixoto is the media relations coordinator for the Astros. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less