Archive for May, 2008

Around The EL: Travis Snider

May 29, 2008

The last time the Fisher Cats came into Trenton, I got the chance to sit down with top Toronto farmhand Travis Snider for a few minutes.

Here’s how it went…

Mike Ashmore: The Toronto Blue Jays drafted you with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft.  Take me back to draft day, what was that like for you?

Travis Snider: “It was a pretty exciting time for me, my family and my friends.  We all got together.  There had been a lot of hype going into it because I had a great senior year, I was with all of my best friends playing baseball.  Fortunately, things worked out for the best and we were able to celebrate with the right people.  It was a pretty special day that I’m never going to forget.”

Ashmore: You played football in high school as well.  Was there ever a point where you had to make a choice between the two sports, or was it always going to be baseball for you?

Snider: “Injuries are basically the reason why I quit playing football.  I fractured my ankle and tore all my tendons, I did that in the spring of my sophomore year.  I played varsity as a freshman and sophomore, so I was getting recruited for football and baseball by Division 1 schools.  It really just came down to choosing my career in baseball over the potential of getting injured playing football again.  I’d already had surgery and have metal in my ankle.  Things picked up on the professional side, getting scouted and talking to more professional scouts saying I had a chance to be an early pick.  Injuries are going to be the only thing that holds you back, other than going out there and not performing.  It was a tough decision for me, but it was a decision I needed to make.”

Ashmore: A lot of people thought you’d be starting the season with the Fisher Cats, but instead you started in A-Ball.  Were you surprised by that at all?

Snider: “No.  Basically, I’d been having elbow problems since spring training and I was DH’ing all the way through big league camp and didn’t play at all in minor league camp.  The organization decided they wanted me to start in Florida where the weather’s a little warmer and start a throwing program down there.  We ended up moving ahead of schedule and getting sent up here just to DH.  They wanted me to play the outfield before I came to Double-A.  Everything was on schedule before the season, but injuries obviously changed that.  But that’s part of the game, and that’s something I’m learning this season, is how to deal with injuries and how to recover and come back and try to play the way I know I can.”

Ashmore: You’ve hit pretty much wherever you’ve been, but you’re struggling a little bit so far this season.  Is it frustrating for you to finally have to deal with some extended adversity at the plate?

Snider: “It was real frustrating for a period of time.  I don’t like to make excuses, but there are some definite holes in my swing.  I solely believe that it had to do with timing, and it had to do with swing mechanics, and a lot of my mechanics are affected by me trying to protect my back elbow.  Those are things that you’ve got to make adjustments with, and I’ve had a great support system around me.  Not only the coaching staff, but the players.  I’ve felt like in the last two or three weeks, I’ve started to have higher quality at-bats and draw more walks.  The strikeouts are at a position I never want them to be at, but you look back on it and say what can you do, and the only thing you can do learn from it.  As I start to feel more comfortable in the box, as I have the past week and half or two weeks, I’ll start to swing the bat like I can.  I understand that I’ve struggled since I’ve been up here, but I feel like I’m on an uphill climb now.  My confidence is back.  It’s tough when you’re not winning ballgames, but we’ve got some guys around me to give me that support in the lineup and hopefully as a team we can get everything rolling on all cylinders and we can pick each other up a little bit better.”

Ashmore: Baseball America has you rated as the number one prospect in the Blue Jays organization this year.  When you see something like that, does that mean something to you?

Snider: “I’d say it’s an honor, but at the same time, it’s an accolade you win off the field.  You’ve still got to go out there and perform every day, whether you’re a first round pick, the number one prospect.  You’re going to hear it from the guys in the clubhouse, and you’re going to get crap for it.  But that goes with the territory.  For me, I just try to go out there and play my game.  Whether it’s the number one prospect in the Blue Jays organization or an eighth year free agent in Double-A, I have the same respect for everybody here and I feel like guys respect me with everything I have to go through.  Being 20 years old and having these accolades above my head that people like to joke about and things like that.  It’s definitely an honor, but at the same time you’ve got to stay humble and understand that you can be the number one prospect and still hit .200 through the month of May.  So what does it really mean.  Obviously, if you have some talent, you’ve got to go out there and perform.”

Ashmore: Do you feel like all the accolades around you has kind of increased the hype around you, or considering how well known you were even back in high school, do you feel like it’s kind of always been this way?

Snider: “I feel like it’s been there since I was 14 years old.  I don’t feel like I’ve been pressing to try to be the number one prospect.  It’s not even crossed my mind through all this.  From a confidence standpoint, when you’re striking out 60 times in 150 at-bats, that has nothing to do with where your prospect status is.  That has to do with your timing, and your swing mechanics, and your pitch selection and your approach.  None of that stuff…it’s completely separate in my mind.  I don’t think it’s crossed my mind once: Oh God, I’m the number one prospect, but I’m struggling.  That doesn’t mean anything to me, personally.  I’ve always been successful, and now I’m dealing with failure more often than I have in the past.  It’s a good learning experience for me now at 20 years old versus somewhere down the road at an older age when I’m not ready to deal with it.”

Ashmore: Any timetable in mind for when you’d like to get to the big leagues?

Snider: “As soon as possible.  Obviously, my goals are at the end of this year, and if not this year then whenever.  Realistically, in the next couple years.  For me, it’s something…I understand I’m going to get there when I get there, and it’s still a long road and nothing’s set in stone.  I just try to go out one day at a time every day and take every at-bat and every pitch for what it is and not take it for granted.  If you get caught up worrying about when you’re going to get called up and when you’re going to get to Double-A, low-A and high-A and those type of things…that was something I learned last year, you’ve still got to perform every day no matter where you’re at and allow the other things to take care of themselves.  My goals are as soon as possible in the next couple of years, but at the same time I trust the organization to make the right decision and we’ll just go from there.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 53: New Hampshire @ Trenton

May 29, 2008

NEWS: I was not at the game, but according to several sources, Jose Tabata was again removed from the game during the fifth inning, and there was no apparent injury.

Game 53 – New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Trenton Thunder
May 29, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE George Kontos vs. NH Brandon Magee

Starting Lineups:

New Hampshire

1 –
2 –
3 –
4 –
5 –
6 –
7 –
8 –
9 –

Trenton

1 – Pena
2 – Jackson
3 – Curtis
4 – Gonzalez
5 – Ehlers
6 – Tabata
7 – Pilittere
8 – Russo
9 – Corona

Pre-Game Notes:

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

Final Score: 7-4, Thunder

Post-Game Notes: The Thunder go on a six game road trip starting tomorrow, first in New Britain and then to Connecticut…more specifically, Norwich.

Thunder Thoughts:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 52: New Hampshire @ Trenton

May 28, 2008

Game 52 – New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Trenton Thunder
May 28, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Eric Hacker vs. NH Scott Richmond

Starting Lineups:

New Hampshire

1 – Campbell
2 – Patterson
3 – Snider
4 – Smith
5 – Jeroloman
6 – Butler
7 – Kruezer
8 – Hatch
9 – Klosterman

Trenton

1 – Pena
2 – Jackson
3 – Curtis
4 – Gonzalez
5 – Ehlers
6 – Tabata
7 – Pilittere
8 – Russo
9 – Corona

Pre-Game Notes: For those interested in my special brand of babbling idiocy, I’m tentatively scheduled to do a pre-game interview with Josh Landsburg on the Thunder’s radio broadcast on WBUD.

Tony Franklin told me before the game that he hadn’t heard anything in terms of whether there would be a corresponding move in regards to Ian Kennedy being placed on the DL.  All the usual suspects: Hall, Jackson and Melancon are all still here, and I don’t anticipate anything just yet.

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): 3-1, Thunder through two.

Hacker’s OUT after four.  He threw a lot of pitches, but I can’t imagine he’s near 100.  No idea, guys.  Kroenke in.

After Kroenke gave up a missile to tie the game at 3, he went an inning and was replaced by Eric Wordekemper.  Clearly, this is the game where the guys kept in moth balls in some sort of bullpen storage closet will be unearthed for use.

Wordy gave up a bomb to dead center, now it’s 4-3, New Hampshire.  It’s almost like this was his fourth appearance in 23 days or something.

P.J. ties it up at four with an RBI single in the 6th.

Great throw by Edwar Gonzalez and great tag by P.J. Pilittere to keep this game at 4-4 in the 7th…

Anthony Claggett in to pitch the 8th, and I would assume the 9th.

Ryan Patterson with a fan-freaking-tastic play in center field to rob Pilittere of at least two runs on a gapper to left center.  In full stride, he laid out and made a fantastic diving catch.

Tied at four going into the tenth.  Geez.

Bo Hall now pitching for the Thunder.

Through 10 and its tied.  I’m heading home.  It’s 10:35 PM, and I’ve been up waaaaaaay too long.  I won’t be at the ballpark tomorrow, but I’ll throw up something on the ol’ blog…

In-Game Photos:

Hacker

Tabby

In-Game YouTube Videos: Eric Hacker VIDEO, Eric Hacker VIDEO 2, Scott Richmond VIDEO, Fisher Cats Hitting Coach Ken Joyce Ejection From Last Night VIDEO

Final Score: 5-4, New Hampshire in 11.

Post-Game Notes: Hacker was in the high 80’s on the gun.  He threw approximately 84 pitches.

Thunder Thoughts: Reggie Jackson in attendance again…

I’ll have photos and maybe a video or two at some point, but tonight’s just one of those nights where anything that could have sucked for me has.  Accomplished a grand total of zilch before the game.  Handled that well.  Was pleased.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Paper Cut

May 28, 2008

I like that headline on so many levels…

Anyway, Eladio Rodriguez has been sent off to Staten Island to make room for Eric Hacker.  Have not heard if there are any corresponding moves in regards to Ian Kennedy being placed on the big league DL just yet.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Staff Ace-ves

May 28, 2008

I had the opportunity to chat with the man who’s been setting the Eastern League on fire with his arm, Pitcher of the Week Alfredo Aceves.

He has a firm handshake, makes sure he knows your name, and asks you to speak slowly because his English is still coming around.

Here’s our chat…

On how he signed with the Yankees:

“In Mexico, I played with Monterrey.  The Monterrey GM, they have to talk with the people from the teams in the States.  The Yankees, Cleveland and the Blue Jays and like four or five more.  The Yankees had to wait to see what the best post would be, so they take the best.  I had to wait too.  I can’t do anything.”

On why he was in the Mexican League for so long:

“I played with Yucatan first, then they sell me to one team, the Blue Jays.  So I go to the Dominican Republic, but I don’t like it.  I played there in the summer league, it was too hard for us.  The people, the food, and it was too far.  I was too young to be alone for the first time.  I can’t handle it, I can’t.  So the next year, I said I didn’t want to do it anymore.  If they wanted to bring me to the States, I’d go.  But the Dominican, I don’t go.  So I started my career in Mexico.  They sent me to Monterrey, traded me.  I played there one year as a starter, then the next year as a starter.  The next year, I came here.”

On what he throws:

“Fastball, curveball, change and cutter.”

On what he’s working on:

“In the bullpens, we’re working on cutters.”

On if he’s surprised he’s done so well:

“A little bit.  I don’t think too much about it.  I just live day by day, but I keep it in mind, because it’s good.  I came from Tampa, and I threw well there, and then it was two games here that were good.  Just keep calm, keep easy, work hard, keep doing my stuff.”

On what it’s like to go from having nobody know who you are to everybody knowing:

“It’s a good taste in my mouth.”

Game 51: New Hampshire @ Trenton

May 27, 2008

Game 51 – New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Trenton Thunder
May 27, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Jason Jones (7-0, 2.13) vs. NH Julio Pinto (2-1, 6.92)

Starting Lineups:

New Hampshire

1 – Campbell
2 – Patterson
3 – Snider
4 – Smith
5 – Jeroloman
6 – Butler
7 – Phillips
8 – Hatch
9 – Diaz

Trenton

1 – Russo
2 – Jackson
3 – Curtis
4 – Gonzalez
5 – Ehlers
6 – Tabata
7 – Pilittere
8 – Malec
9 – Corona

Pre-Game Notes: Tons of good stuff added to the last game thread: five Melancon videos, etc.

John Nalbone of The Times of Trenton is reporting that there were no major issues with Chase Wright’s MRI, and that the pitcher will be shut down for three or four starts.

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): Rain delay at 8:25.  Fudge.

Game started at around 9:50.  The first batter, Campbell, hit a soft comebacker to Jones…who slipped while trying to field it.  Thankfully, he’s OK.

Travis Snider just laced a gapper to left, and it’s 1-0 in the first.

JJ walked home a run to make it 2-0 Fisher Cats in the third.

A-Jack doubles home two in the 3rd, 2-2.

In-Game Photo Gallery:

P.J. Pilittere lines up with the umpires

Jason Jones

In-Game YouTube Videos: Jason Jones VIDEO

Final Score: 4-2, Fisher Cats

Post-Game Notes: Jones is around 87 on the gun, saw Pinto at around 90.  I’m leaving at around 11:15 PM, so whatever happens afterwards, happens…

Thunder Thoughts: Anyone expecting quotes from the first game…don’t.  You’re not allowed in the clubhouse between games of a doubleheader, which is what this technically qualified as.

The unofficial Mike Ashmore f-bomb tracker is off the charts at the moment.  They haven’t started the second game yet, and it’s 9:30.  The issue there is that I have an 11:05 start in Somerset tomorrow, and then am coming back here.  Should be a lovely day. 

Congrats to Bill Bromberg on his 600th game as the team’s P.A. announcer.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Hacker To Start Tomorrow

May 27, 2008

(Threw this together real quick for some between game reading…)

Although the news won’t be made official until tomorrow, Eric Hacker has been called up from Tampa and will start for the Thunder tomorrow night.

Interesting, considering that it had been reported about a week or so ago that he was already with the Thunder.

“Somebody had brought that to my attention, I wasn’t really aware of it,” Hacker said.

“The first reaction is you get a little excited, but you never read into things too much because you never know for sure.  Sometimes things get out in the press that aren’t always what they are.”

Hacker throws five pitches: a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.

“I rely a lot on the two-seam fastball,” he said.

It was reported that Hacker had missed a start in Tampa due to a blister, but he has a different story.

“It wasn’t quite a blister, but they called it a blister because that’s the best thing to call it,” he said.

“I had a small piece of skin that kind of ripped on my finger.  For precautionary reasons, they immediately shut me down for a couple days.  I missed one start, but it’s OK.”

Hacker pitched very well for Single-A Tampa (2-2, 1.87), but many people say that the jump from Single-A to Double-A is the biggest one a player can make.

“I try not to look into that too much,” he said.

“Obviously, you need to have a better idea of the strike zone and be more patient.  But I’m just focused on pitching my game and making my pitches, and making them hit my best pitch.”

Hacker knows he’s scheduled to pitch tomorrow, but hasn’t heard anything outside of that.

The corresponding move hasn’t been announced, but I’d imagine you can figure out what’s going on with that…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 43 (Completion): New Hampshire @ Trenton

May 27, 2008

NEWS: ERIC HACKER IS HERE.  HE WILL START TOMORROW.  MORE ON THIS LATER.

Game 43 (Completion of suspended game) – New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Trenton Thunder
May 27, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Original Pitching Matchup: TRE Dan McCutchen (4-3, 2.52) vs. NH Brandon Magee (0-6, 6.44)

Starting Lineups:

New Hampshire

1 – Campbell
2 – Mathews
3 – Snider
4 – Butler
5 – Patterson
6 – Phillips
7 – Kreuzer
8 – Hatch
9 – Klosterman

Trenton

1 – Pena
2 – Jackson
3 – Curtis
4 – Gonzalez
5 – Ehlers
6 – Tabata
7 – Russo
8 – Rodriguez
9 – Corona

Pre-Game Notes: Alfredo Aceves was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week.

Mark Melancon will “start” for Trenton, while A.J. Wideman “starts” for the Fisher Cats.

Thunder alum Bronson Sardinha was sent down to Akron by the Indians.

The company line on Chase Wright is “shoulder stiffness.”  No word on a timetable.

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): Still 1-0 going into the bottom of the 5th.  Nice job by Melancon to get out of the inherited jam.

Rodriguez RBI groundout makes it 1-1.

Two-run double by A-Jack in the fifth makes it 3-1 Thunder.

We’re in the seventh, and Melancon is still in there.  Very, very surprised by this.

Melancon out after FOUR innings, Steven Jackson now in.

3-2, two on, bottom 9.  Jackson making it interesting. 

All right.  Tie game.  Passed ball scores the runner.  3-3.  Great.

And now its completely blown.  Travis Snider hits a gapper to right center to score another run, and New Hampshire has a 4-3 lead.

5-3.  Two rough, rough outings for Jack.

Zach Dials now in to close the game for the Fisher Cats.

——-

Updates from the first part of the game from about a week back…

The game is underway, but the rain is already here…if this gets to the fifth, I’ll be surprised.

Raining pretty hard here in the bottom of the 2nd, but they’re still playing. 1-0, New Hampshire.

Eladio Rodriguez has pinch hit for Joe Muich in the 3rd. No idea what’s up…didn’t see an apparent injury to Muich.

In a stunner, the game has entered a rain delay around 2:05. 1-0 Fisher Cats in the top of the 4th.

In-Game Photo Gallery:

Mark Melancon

Mark Melancon

A.J. Richmond

Mark Melancon.  Notice a theme with the photos?

Steven Jackson

In-Game YouTube Videos: Eladio Rodriguez VIDEO, Edwar Gonzalez VIDEO, Mark Melancon VIDEO, Mark Melancon VIDEO 2, Mark Melancon VIDEO 3, Mark Melancon VIDEO 4, Mark Melancon VIDEO 5, Reegie Corona VIDEO, Steven Jackson VIDEO, A.J. Richmond VIDEO

Final Score: 5-3, Fisher Cats.

Post-Game Notes: Reggie Jackson was in attendance for at least the first game.  I shook his hand and told him it was good to see him again, but I let the new guys talk to him.  I’ve already interviewed him once…and it certainly isn’t that he’s a bad quote, but I wanted to leave him alone.

Tony Franklin told me before the game that Marcos Vechionacci had a setback and will not be back soon.  He was expected back by the end of the month, but that will not happen now.

Thunder Thoughts: Melancon was consistently at 91 on the gun, and hit 92 once.  He looked OK, but he had some control problems at times.

Could not agree more with a scouting report I saw on Jose Tabata that says he tends to turn his talent on and off.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him make no effort on catchable balls that are hit right at him that end up landing.  Anthony Hatch hit a ball off of Melancon in the 5th that was right to him, but he barely moved and watched it land about three feet in front of him.  I hate to rip the guy, but enough already…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Around the EL: Brett Cecil

May 27, 2008

It’s been a big jump this season for New Hampshire starting pitcher Brett Cecil, but you’d never know it by his numbers.

Drafted just last year, he pitched in the short season New York-Penn League for Auburn last season, before starting this season in Single-A Dunedin.  After just four successful starts, Cecil was called up to Double-A, and has quickly emerged as the Fisher Cats staff ace.

As you’ll see towards the end, confidence doesn’t seem to be a problem for the 21-year-old lefty…

Thunder Thoughts: Toronto picked you 38th overall last season.  Take me to draft day, what was that experience like for you?

Brett Cecil: “It was pretty exciting.  Somebody actually called my house and told my dad before he knew.  I knew, but my dad didn’t know.  I kind of wanted him to see it on TV before I told him.  But it was just funny the way it happened.  Somebody called and said congratulations and whatnot, and he was like for what.  Then I just kind of smiled, and he knew.  It was a fun day.  I went and played golf in the morning and came back home and sat around.  It seemed like forever, even though I’d just played five hours of golf.”

TT: Was it someone from the Blue Jays who called, or…

Cecil: “My agent called and said the Blue Jays got a guy ahead of you, but if he gets taken, they’re going to take you 38th.  Then a guy from the Blue Jays did call and said I’d been drafted, so it was cool.”

TT: In college, you were the closer at Maryland, but now you’re a starter.  How difficult was that transition for you?

Cecil: “It’s a lot harder going from closing to starting than it was starting to closing.  You’ve got to get your pitch count back up, and its been maybe two years now that I’ve been trying to get my pitch count up.  I’ve been trying to get through some injuries, so I think the highest I had last year was 87 and I’m at 65 right now.  Hopefully I can get somewhere in the nineties later this year.”

TT: As a starter, is it frustrating to not be able to go as deep into the game as you might like?

Cecil: “It’s not really frustrating, it’s actually kind of funny.  I come out of these games after four and two thirds, and I’m walking in the dugout and guys are laughing at me because I can’t get through the later innings.  Once I get pushed up, I’ll be able to get six or seven innings for these guys and start getting some wins.”

TT: For someone who’s never seen you pitch before, give me a scouting report on yourself…

Cecil: “Low 90’s fastball with some sink.  Above average slider, hooking curveball and changeup…not so good right now (laughs).”

TT: So what do you do to work on that?

Cecil: Throw it in the bullpen, throw it in the game…throw it more and more in the game.  I’ll get better throwing to hitters than I would in the bullpen.  Bullpens definitely help, but you’ve got to face live hitting.  In my opinion, for me to get better with my pitches, I’ve got to face live hitting.  I can throw my slider all day in the pen, and it wouldn’t be as good as it is in the game.  I’ve just got to keep throwing it, and trusting it, and it’ll come around.”

TT: Every scouting report I’ve read on you, the slider is what people seem to focus on.  What is it about that pitch that makes it stand out for you?

Cecil: “I have no idea.  My sophomore year of college, we had a new pitching coach and he was asking everybody individually about what they think about themselves, and I said that I wanted to add some miles per hour to my slider.  He asked me how I was holding it then, so I showed him, and he showed me a different way to hold it.  He said to throw it like a fastball, and sure enough I did, and I was getting it up to 88 or 89 miles per hour.  Right now, it’s a little slower, but it has more bite to it.  Sometimes, I think to myself when these guys swing at it, what does it really look like.  I want to kind of be in the batters box and see my own stuff and see what it looks like.”

TT: You were in the New York-Penn League last year and you’re in Double-A now, that’s got to be a pretty big jump…

Cecil: “It’s definitely a lot tougher.  The hitters are more free swinging in the New York-Penn League than they are here, not to say that these guys won’t swing at any pitches.  But if you get behind guys and you throw a pitch anywhere in there, they’re going to take a big hack at it.  In the first game I pitched up here, I gave up four runs in the first inning.  I wanted to take a little bit more off and hit the corners instead of trying to hit the corners hard, just take a little bit off and get a little more movement. I got a lot more ground balls.  It’s definitely a lot more difficult, but there are definitely things that me and other pitchers can do to overcome any type of hitter in this league.”

TT: According to Baseball America, you came into the season as the second best prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.  When you see something like that, does it mean anything to you?

Cecil: “I don’t want to say I don’t care, it’s definitely a good honor to be recognized as that.  But I try not to pay attention to all that stuff in Baseball America, but other guys tell me about it, guys from college and guys from my dad’s work who tell him, then he tells me.  It’s definitely a great honor, but like the big leagues, it’s hard to get there and it’s tougher to stay there, so it’s going to be tough to stay the second prospect.  In order to get to number one, I’ve got a tough guy ahead of me.

TT: Those kinds of books and scouting reports always like to  try to project when a guy like you is going to get to the big leagues.  Do you have any sort of set goal in mind as far as when you think you’ll be there?

Cecil: “Like anybody, I’d like to be there as soon as possible.  Maybe at the end of this year, maybe not.  If not, it’s not going to hinder my confidence at all.  It would certainly be a great honor to get up there.  If I do, I do and that’s great.  If I don’t, then hopefully sometime next year.

TT: In terms of stuff, do you feel like you have what it takes to compete up there right now?

Cecil: “Yeah.  Absolutely.”

Getting To Know: P.J. Pilittere

May 26, 2008

Our first “Getting To Know” feature with the unfortunately now-injured Chase Wright was such a success, that its become one of the questions that people ask me the most: When are we going to see more “Getting To Know” features?

One player who people really seem to want to hear more about is P.J. Pilittere, so I sat down with the friendly catcher during the last homestand and got to know him a little better…

Mike Ashmore: Tell me something about P.J. Pilittere that you think a lot people don’t know…

P.J. Pilittere: “Ooh, that’s a tough question.  I don’t know.  I’d say overall, I’m a pretty enthusiastic person.  The smallest things get me excited, in the game or off the field.  I’m a simple person, I’m just excited about everything…about living life.  I don’t know.  I’m just a really enjoy living in the present type of person, I don’t take things for granted.  I don’t know, that’s a hard question, it’s difficult.”

Mike: Do you have an iPod?

P.J.: “Yes.”

Mike: What do you have in there?

P.J.: “I’ve got a lot of stuff, I’m very versatile.  Anything from country to classic rock.  Hip-hop to anything.  I’d say my favorites are probably bands like 311, Incubus…that’s about it.  Although right now, I’m on a big Kanye West kick.”

Mike: Off the field, what kind of stuff do you like to do?

P.J.: “I really enjoy movies.  I was just telling one of my roomates last night that it’s been a while since I’ve quoted movies, and it felt pretty good to do it last night.  I used to be one big walking movie quote.  I felt like I could compare anything someone said or any situation in life to a movie quote.  More specifically, at one point, I thought I could tie it into the movie Anchorman.  Anything that happened in life, I could relate it to Anchorman.  I just really enjoy watching movies.”

Mike: Do you like going to the movies or watching DVD’s, or…

P.J.: “Both.  Whenever we get a free chance…a lot of guys like to watch movies, it’s just a way to relax and something you can do off your feet.  But if we have time, we’ll head over to the movies near the apartment.  If not, I’ll just watch some of my DVD’s.  I have a big collection.  I’m also big on TV on DVD, I got into a lot of series that way, like Nip/Tuck.  Nip/Tuck’s pretty good.”

Mike: I’m robbing your house, but I’m letting you keep five DVD’s.  Which five do you not want me to take?

P.J.: “Oof, that’s tough.  Major League, Made…I don’t know if you’ve seen that one, it’s like a sequel to Swingers.  Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, it’s hilarious.”

Mike: I actually didn’t really like Swingers…

P.J.: “It’s better, though.  It’s different.  Blue Crush.  I know that sounds weird, that’s kind of a weird one for me.  I don’t know what the other two would be.  I like too many movies, I’ve got too many.  Garden State.  One more…I’m visually going through my DVD case right now.  I guess I’ll say Snatch.”

Mike: I would imagine that if there’s DVD’s around, there might be some video games too…

P.J.: “A little bit.  XBOX 360, a little Tiger Woods.  We just got Rock Band, we play that a little bit.  The neighbors don’t like it too much.”

Mike: Any particular instrument in Rock Band that I might find you on?

P.J.: “Believe it or not, I’m not that great on the guitar or the drums, so I’m usually the guy on the mic.  Don’t let it fool you, I’m not a good singer at all.  But it’s fun.”

Mike: On the field, you have a rep as a good defensive catcher and a good gamecaller.  What’s your definition of someone who calls a good game?

P.J.: “”A good gamecaller, that kind of goes into a lot of characteristics you need.  I think you need to know your staff, first and foremost, and know what they can do.  A lot of people say stuff like oh we need to pitch around this guy, or we’re facing this guy, but it still might not match up to what we’re trying to do with the guys that we have.  I need to know with McCutchen or Chase, what they do the best, and we’re going to base it off of that, how to get guys out.  I think calling a game is knowing that.  Knowing what pitch they can throw at any time, what pitch we can work on and what time to do that.  As far as being a game management guy, I think the thing is to try to know their personalities.  I usually get along with the pitchers more than the position players just because I’m around them.  So I like to know what makes them tick.  If someone needs me to go out there and say something funny or someone needs me to grab them by the shirt or try to calm them down, I need to know what clicks with these guys.”

Mike: Are you happy with that reputation, or do you think there are some negative connotations that come along with it?  Because for as well as you’ve been swinging the bat, especially lately, it seems that’s the rep you’re going to have…

P.J.: “It’s good to get recognition about being a good game manager because it’s kind of a lost art form these days in baseball.  It’s an offensive game.  It is.  Being a good game manager is something that I really kind of cherish.  It takes a little bit more detail, you don’t just go out there and go oh, we gave up a hit.  It hurts me just as much when these guys give up hits or walk guys or get a loss.  When their ERA goes up, I like to think of it as my ERA, too.  It’s kind of a passion that you’ve got to have.”

Mike: I’ve had some people ask me about your catchers mask.  Did you have any input on the design?

P.J.: “No.  That’s a style that All-Star, up until this year, was licensed by Major League Baseball to put all that stuff on the masks.  But not anymore, I’m probably not even supposed to be wearing it anymore.  But that’s just them, something they did.”

Mike: So if you could design your own mask, what would you have on there?

P.J.: “Wow.  I wouldn’t be too flashy, that’s for sure.  That’s probably about as big as I would go, I don’t want to say I’d put like a bald eagle on there or something.  I don’t know, maybe I’d synch it up with the Thunder and get some lightning bolts or something like that.  Nothing too crazy, though.”