Derek Holland, standing by his locker in the RedHawks' clubhouse, had a difficult time answering the question.
Almost as difficult a time as Pacific Coast League batters have had against him this year.
The question was, "What's the difference between pitching here and in the major leagues?"
Holland thought about his answer for nine seconds, which seems like a long while in an interview situation.
"I'm not really sure," he said. "The hitters are real good up there. They're good here. It's just that you can make more mistakes here than you can up there."
Followup question: "What kind of mistakes can you make here and get away with them?"
Eleven silent seconds later Holland said, "I'm puzzled, man. I don't even know what to say. I don't know. You just don't want to be too predictable. That's the main thing."
Holland has been predictably excellent for the RedHawks this year. He leads the PCL with an 0.67 earned run average. He has allowed only two earned runs in four starts, over 27 innings pitched.
In 47 minor league games over four seasons, Holland has a 19-8 record and 2.46 ERA. Last year with Texas he was 8-13 with a 6.12 ERA, but he had some spectacular games, most notably a three-hit shutout at the Los Angeles Angels.
RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said Holland was "pretty dejected" about being sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City out of spring training. The 23-year-old lefthander spent all of last year with the Texas Rangers - after one start for the RedHawks.
After spending most of last season with Texas, Holland (2-1) has led a RedHawks starting rotation that has a 8-2 record and 2.72 ERA through 19 games.
"He has good potential, and he's been on a roll," Jones said. "He's been outstanding for us. He could go back to the big leagues and step right in."
Holland said he's not worrying about that possibility.
"I'm here. I'm taking care of this here," Holland said. "My main focus is here, and if they call me, they call me. If they don't, I'm not worried about it. I'm not thinking about those kind of things."
Holland's next scheduled start for the RedHawks is Thursday night, against New Orleans in Oklahoma City.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.