Monday, June 11, 2007

A little Q & A with Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Atlanta Braves future Super Star and current catcher/please move him to first so he can play everyday, Jarrod Saltalamacchia had an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and here it is...

Q. Was your first month in the majors everything you hoped it would be?

A. Yeah, everything and more. Everybody's dreamed about being up here, obviously. And it's been everything I hoped for.

Q. Anything been different than what you expected?

A. It's hard to say. Because you expect so much, and then when you get here, you kind of forget half the stuff you expected. The plane flights are great; it's a lot better than the bus rides you were taking [in the minors]. And just showing up and playing the game — you don't have to be out at 2 o'clock for stretching and stuff like that. They treat you like adults up here, and that's awesome.

Q. The [postgame food] spread isn't bad either, huh?

A. [Saltalamacchia laughs.] Yeah, the spread ain't bad. I've got to stay away from the spread.

Q. Since you first got here, a lot of people noticed how comfortable and confident you look for a rookie in his first call-up. Is that something that you've always had? How do you maintain that, up here playing against guys you've grown up watching?

A. I've always been confident, but I've never felt like, 'Oh, I'm just as good as Chipper Jones.' But a lot of people have told me, you look like you feel that way. I guess sometimes that can get you into trouble because some guys look at you the wrong way and think, 'Oh, this kid's just a cocky little rookie.' But that's not it at all. I listen to everyone and I take everything in. I think that by listening to what other guys have been through, that's what's helped make me look a little more comfortable.

Q. Has that confidence or swagger helped you through the years, helped you get here? Terry Pendleton said that's what it takes to succeed at this level.

A. Yeah, I think so, without a doubt. That's big. I mean, if you don't have any confidence, you can't play the game the right way.

Q. Has your initial success in your first month, some two-hit games, has that helped make you more confident? Or did you come up here knowing you were good enough to play here right now?

A. I think it was very important. Everyone always tells you the big leagues is such a big jump; which it is. To come in and hit the ball like I have, I mean that's a huge confidence level. If you're 0-for-20, you start to doubt yourself. That's what I think happened to me in Double-A [he hit .230 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in an injury-plagued 2006 season at Mississippi]. I started to doubt myself. That's something you can't do. I'm glad I went through that then, instead of going through it now.

Q. If you look at what you did last season, and compare it to what you're doing now, some people are probably asking, how in the world did this guy hit .230 in Double-A? So, how did you?

A. You kind of get yourself in a hole. I mean, whether it was the [injured] wrist that got me in a hole or whatever, I just kind of got into it and it's tough to get out of it. In the second half, I didn't over-pressure myself, just said, 'I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do.' That helped a lot.

Q. Some other young Braves, like Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann, have actually hit better in their first year in the majors than they did in the minors. Does that have to do with the coaching up here, with Bobby Cox's managerial style, with guys you're surrounded by up here, or what?

A. I think it has to do with everything — the manager, the ballparks, the fans, lights, pitchers are around the plate more ... everything. I mean, they take care of you up here, whereas in the minor leagues you don't get taken care of as well. It's just a fight, a dog-eat-dog world down there. Up here, everyone's a little more relaxed, feeling a little more comfortable. It's a lot easier to play the game that way.

Q. How is the clubhouse atmosphere here, with the veterans sprinkled in with all the young guys closer to your age?

A. It's great. I mean it's tough because you get in situations where I've played with Brian and Francoeur and all those guys, and they are my age, but you still have to look at them as veterans. To us, they're veterans. You've just got to listen to everybody. And that's something I've done. I've listened to Andruw [Jones], Brian, Frenchy, all of them. They've been through it already, so you listen to what they say, and hopefully a couple of years from now somebody will be listening to me.

Q. Chipper being a switch-hitter, has he been able to help you any?

A. He's been huge for me. When you're not playing every day it's tough, you start to doubt your swing and stuff if you have a bad day in [batting practice]. I've talked to Chipper and done some stuff with him to make me get better. He's been there. He's great.

Q. You've taken a lot of ground balls at first base the last couple of years. Was it good to finally get in there to play the position recently in the game at Chicago, to get the yips out of the way early?

A. Yeah, I think that's exactly what it was [Saltalamacchia briefly bobbled the first grounder hit to him as a first baseman and made a throwing error on the second ball hit to him]. I don't know what the plans are; I just know I'm going to keep taking ground balls and do whatever they tell me to do. I feel comfortable over there.

Q. The Braves already have a young catcher [McCann]. You've said before you don't care what position you play, as long as you're in the majors. Is that still the case?

A. Yeah. I don't care what position they put me in. I just want to be here and help the team out as much as I can.

Q. And you'd prefer to stay in this organization?

A. Yeah, I'd love to stay a Brave. I have no control over that, which [stinks]. But whatever's going to help my career and make them happy.

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