Boy I tell you, some of these minor league kids are so excited to be interviewed, and Brent Lillibridge was no exception. I caught up with the other part of the Gonzalez-LaRoche trade during the middle of spring training in the Braves clubhouse. He was one of the nicest guys I talked to all spring; very eager to answer every question. He does look like he's about 15, but he acts very mature (as I suppose he should for his age). I hope you enjoy my chat with Brent.
Martin Gandy: So what did you think of the trade?
Brent Lillibridge: It definitely catches you by surprise, but it's something that both organizations needed to do, for [the Braves] to add strength to their bullpen and for the Pirates to get a big hitter - that was good for them. I enjoyed being with the Pirates, and I'm definitely excited about being part of a big-time winning organization, and going through here and being a part of the next 14 playoff appearances.
MG: How did you find out about the trade?
BL: Actually my agent called me and asked me if I had heard anything, and about an hour later it was all over the internet - that's how I found out about it. It was definitely exciting.
MG: Do you define yourself as a speed or a power guy, or both?
BL: Definitely a speed guy. I had my homeruns, but it's more of a mistake thing where I get it elevated. I'm more of a line drive, gap to gap, and I really feel like I'm a guy who gets on base and causes havoc and scores a lot of runs. I take a lot of pride in scoring runs. If I get on base I want to score a run, I don't want to just be on base because I got a hit. I want to try and get all the way around so we can win - you got to score runs to win, so.
MG: So you are a leadoff hitter?
BL: Definitely, I've been a leadoff hitter almost my whole life - I've learned and gotten better at it, and hopefully I will to continue to move up.
MG: What do you attribute to your quick rise through the minor leagues?
BL: The big thing, obviously my coaching was great, they really helped me - especially my low-A coach, Jeff Branson, really helped me with my approach to hitting, and just kind of slowed things down and really made me work counts. That way I was able to see pitches and later in the game when I got to see the same pitcher, I started getting more hits. From there on I just stuck to a plan the whole year, and it's going to be the same this year and it's going to work and I'm not going to get out of it, just do what I do, not try to swing too hard, just try to get on base, try to work counts early so I can have good at bats later and also help the team out and just kind of go from there.
MG: Did you play any winter ball?
BL: No, I didn't. I got married. So I spent all my time doing that.
MG: Congratulations. I saw the ring around you neck and I was going to say why aren't you wearing it. Very cool.
What level do you see yourself starting at this year?
BL: They haven't told me, but I'm guessing double-A. I've already put my time in at both low-A and high-A and had success there. I tell you what, I think it's going to be a good start in double-A with a good team, it's going to be a really good team up there. And just kind of do what I've been doin and have another good year. It's the stuff you don't have to worry about where you're going to be goin, you just take care of getting ready for the season and wherever it's going to be try and have success, and have fun, and I'm just enjoying being here and getting ready for the season and also being a part of the big league camp has been a tremendous help and a lot of fun.
MG: Have you been working on anything in particular this spring?
BL: Just getting into shape, all around. Just seeing the ball a lot, working counts, the same thing I always do, and just get comfortable so April third or fourth, whenever the first game is, I'll be ready.
MG: What does it mean to be around the big league guys?
BL: It's good, it's a great opportunity, I really appreciate them inviting me to do it just to see how it works and stuff, and I got a chance to hit and play some games and that was good experience, and to get to know some of the players that hopefully in the next couple of years I'll be playing with. From there you just kind of get the taste and now you want it, so you just got to work that much harder down in the minor leagues.
MG: You've kind of got a baby-face, how often do you get mistaken for the bat boy?
BL: I get the bat boy calls all the time, but I don't really worry about it. It's been like that since I was a highschooler pretty much - my face never changed. If anything it's to my advantage because the face doesn't prove how well you play baseball. I'm definitely okay with it, because I hope by 35 or 40 I'm still getting the same thing, and my wife will appreciate it too.
MG: Okay, well thanks a lot and good luck on the season.
By the way, I know its taking me some time to get some of these interviews published, but it's all about finding the time and the right mood to sit down and transcribe for an hour or so. But I'll try to get the rest out in the next couple of weeks - there's still some really good stuff from these other guys.