Dan Haren met with the media Friday night in advance of his Opening Day start against the Padres on Monday at 2:10 p.m. at Chase Field.
Q: Can you give us your thoughts on Monday, Opening Day, and being on the mound?
A: It’s going to be very exciting. I’ve been looking forward to this since A.J. told me I’d be starting the first game of the year. A lot leading up to this, all of the workouts in the offseason, Spring Training and getting up early for a month and a half straight. To finally get things going will be exciting.
Q: How do you feel about this team now that Spring Training is over?
A: I feel the same way I felt coming into the spring. Our lineup is improved, bullpen is improved and I’m just looking forward to just getting out there and competing. I’m sure we’ll score more runs, play better defense and that was obviously a big key for us this spring. I’m just looking forward and I think everybody is looking forward to getting things going.
Q: (Brandon) Webb said he thinks you may have some jitters even though you’ve done this before. Do you still get them?
A: I get theme very time out. If you don’t get the jitters, something is wrong. There is a lot leading up to the game. I’m sure the night before it will be tough sleeping and I’ll wake up early with a long drive to the field. It will be nice. Once I get out there and throw a few pitches, I’m fine.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the Padres?
A: They always give me fits. They always seem to be close games, always, especially at their ballpark and its low scoring. Adrian Gonzalez is obviously one of the best players in the league and it kind of all starts and ends with him. You try not to let him do too much damage and keep the guys off base ahead of him.
Q: Do you set goals yourself for a season?
A: Well, the No. 1 goal for me is to be healthy. If I make 33 or 34 starts, the numbers will take care of themselves. I’ve been blessed with health the last few years and hopefully again this year.
Q: Is there something special about not only Opening Day, but Opening Day at home?
A: Yeah, my first year here, I pitched the home opener, which was nice. I remember it was against the Dodgers. This will be an exciting environment here. It’s going to be fun. It’s such a change. You go from pitching in Tucson or Surprise and all these fields, and it’s such a mellow atmosphere. Then you get out here and it’s electric. I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Does it feel different when there’s 35-plus thousand in the house, and you get that big Opening Day crowd?
A: Yeah, it’s easy to get loose. The adrenaline starts pumping the second you get on the dirt and start my warm-up tosses. Its easy to get loose, easy to get going and its just a matter of controlling your emotions.