On April 4th, I had the great pleasure in going to Pringles Park for Media Day. The session consisted of a meeting with Jeff Parker, General Manager for the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, and Ron Potesta, "The Voice of the Diamond Jaxx." After the meeting, it was time to go to the field to meet the 2006 West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. Below are interviews that took place on Media Day.
A special thank you to the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx for their continued support of NSBB. Be sure to follow the Jaxx all summer long on the new home of the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, Newstalk 101.5 FM
, as well as the Chicago Cubs Farm Report, Presented by Northsidebaseball.com
with Ron Potesta in every pregame show! I also want to thank CuseCubFan69 and Outshined_One for their help with the questions for the sessions. As always, thank you to all of you for making NSBB such a wonderful posting community!
Interview with Adam Greenberg
What are your top three goals for 2006?
Win a championship wherever I’m playing. Right now I’m in AA so I want to win a championship with the Diamond Jaxx.
Improve on a daily basis and work as hard as I can to ultimately get back to where I want to be, the big leagues.
We have a new group of guys. For me there are a lot of new faces as far as teammates so I want to have the best comradery that we can and have as much fun as we can while we’re out here.
What message do you want to send to the fans that followed you through the winter ball and will follow you all season long?
I really appreciate all the support, the fans are fantastic. I’m just going to do what I can to make everybody happy, just go out and play as hard as I can and work for this organization and try to bring a championship to Wrigley.
Are you feeling ok in regards to your health?
I’m healthy, ready to go, ready to have a great year.
What was the experience in winter ball like?
It was an unbelievable experience, top to bottom. It’s a different culture, different atmosphere. There’s a high level of baseball, high level of play. I really believe at some point that everyone, whether a fan or a player, should go and experience at least some taste of winter baseball.
Interview with Randy Wells
Top three goals for 2006?
It’s always good to have a fresh start. I think with the team that we have on paper here , if everything comes together, there’s no reason why the number one goal shouldn’t be to win this thing.
On a couple of personal levels, everyone likes to have success. At this point in your career you want to move on and get to another level. For me I’d like to set my goals pretty low, make quality starts and build on that. We want to win this thing and move up but the main goal is to win this thing.
You are the only roster member from the state of Illinois. Cubs fan or White Sox fan?
I was more in southern Illinois so I grew up a Cardinals fan. I grew up around 10 minutes from St. Louis but I’ve definitely converted. When you get in the game of baseball you have to cut all ties to your team.
What are your thoughts on the new coaching staff for West Tennessee?
I’m excited. Pat seems like he’s a good player’s Manager and he interacts well with the guys. I think it’s going to be fun. Tommy Beyers has nothing but everybody’s respect. He’s a great hitting coach and a great person to be around. Andy has been my pitching coach since I converted at every level that I’ve been at. I’m really excited that he’s here, having a guy I’m comfortable with. I believe in his system and his methods and it’s definitely going to help me out a lot. I think all the pitchers feel the same way.
Interview with Thomas Atlee
Top 3 goals for 2006?
Everybody’s top goal out here has got to be to improve their performance on the field, whether as a hitter and you’re trying to get more swings in to get better and get adjusted to different types of pitches or as a pitcher working on a pitch or trying to develop their stuff to be a big leaguer.
To be able to gel together as a team and help represent the Cubs the best way possible, hopefully with a lot of wins but showing good sportsmanship and things of that nature.
To get a ring on our fingers and bring another championship to one of the Cubs minor league teams and hopefully carry that to the level above this and then the level above that.
What message do you have to the fans that make it a point to follow you guys on a daily basis?
That’s awesome for guys like us. In Spring Training, you get to go to some of the big league stuff and it’s amazing in regards to the fan support that’s there. A lot of the stuff that happens at the minor league level gets lost and it’s nice to know, especially with the Cubs, we have such great backing and our fans are so great. It’s nice to see that at the minor league level as well because it helps to pop us up. As a player, it’s always more fun playing when you know that people are paying attention as opposed to playing and not being sure if anyone is watching or noticing. It’s a great thing for guys like us to be able get responses from the fans and know that they are interested in how we are doing in our careers, it feels good as a player.
Interview with Clay Rapada
Top goals for 2006?
My number one goal is to stay healthy.
My second goal is to help the team out as much as possible.
Third, to give the young guys as much advice as I can.
We talked earlier about your communication with David Aardsma. What type of discussions do you have in regards to helping each other out?
We talk a lot about on the field and the preparation involved in pitching and our bodies. It’s about having fun. Once you lose that element it becomes a business and no one likes business.
What’s your message to the Diamond Jaxx fans that are following you in 2006 regular season and hopefully into the postseason?
We’re going to make it to the postseason and win it all. Last year they were just a little short. This team is full of guys that have been on championship teams at lower levels and we expect nothing more.
Interview with Micah Hoffpauir
Top goals for 2006?
I just want to have a good year. Last year I played at AAA and came down here for a little bit and didn’t have the kind of year I wanted to. This year, I want to go out and in the ABs I get I want to swing the bat as well as I can. I would like to strive to hit over .300 and I feel like I can do that. If I can do that, I feel that I will be successful.
What is your message to not only the fans that will follow you this season, but to the fans at NSBB that have already been asking about you?
I’d just like to tell them hello. I appreciate the guys and the family and friends that actually take the time to go on there and look at that stuff, it means a lot to me. I don’t know how that is for other people, but that means a lot to me to take time out of your day to get on there and look up stuff that you don’t have to do. I appreciate it.
Interview with Eric Patterson
Top 3 goals for 2006?
Definitely to win a championship. We’re looking to repeat that from a few years ago.
From an individual standpoint, everyone out here is looking to get better, day in and day out, learning from mistakes and learn things that work for you.
The third thing is to have fun and be consistent. We have a great group of guys on the team and we are definitely going to work hard but you also want to have a good time on the field.
Message to the fans that are following you on a daily basis?
That just shows tremendous support for the team and the organization. Anytime you have that it makes it fun to be a part of that. I want to thank them for doing that and hope they continue.
Last year you were selected by the Cubs and NSBB as the minor league player of the year. How do you back that up?
The biggest thing is that you don’t try to. You understand that last year was last year and you learn from last year. Some of the things that worked for you, you try to carry them over to this season and some of the things that didn’t, you learn what didn’t work so well and you try to make corrections. I’m not going to try to do anything different than I did last year. Hopefully I’ll just go out and be consistent.
Interview with David Cash
Top goals for 2006?
The biggest thing for me is to stay healthy. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been out here playing. The big thing is getting back out there and showing the Cubs that I’m healed from my surgery.
In regards to a team goal, we have a pretty young team. It’s important to go out play solid baseball.
Third, to have success, which I think will come with being healthy. I want to get back out there and regain my stuff.
What is your message to the fans that keep up with you guys on a daily basis?
It’s pretty neat, because I’m probably one of those guys. I’m probably reading the discussion board with everyone else. It’s neat when the fans are knowledgeable, they know who the players are and they are looking to the future of who the Cubs bring up. It’s neat to talk to those fans.
Interview with Richard Lewis
Top goals for 2006?
I really only have one goal, and that’s to regain the form I played with in 2004. I’d like to pla ythe season healthy, to play well, and to regain the form I played with in 2004.
Message to the fans at NSBB?
It’s great, the support is great. Chicago has a lot of great fans. They know who’s who, they know who’s who in the minor leagues, they know who’s coming up, possible trade situations and they are pretty knowledgeable fans.
Interview with Pat Listach
Last season, the Cubs called up Matt Murton and Adam Greenberg in order to give the team a shot in the arm with a youth infusion. Which players on this year’s team have the best shot at getting called up this summer, should the situation arise?
I think there’s a number of players who have the ability to go up. You look at the guys on the 40 man roster right off the bat. You look at Brian Dopirak, Scotty Moore, Carlos Marmol, Randy Wells, those guys that had success at lower levels. They made the jump here to AA. If they succeed here, play well here, and do the things that they are capable of doing, I think these guys will be ready if there’s an injury or trade up there. It’s my job to make sure they’re ready to make it to the major leagues from here.
In regards to team leadership, have you found your team leader? Who is the best guy in regards at motivation but who is also the best at keeping the mood light in the clubhouse?
It should be me to be able to motivate these players. We have players that lead by example. Eric Patterson is a player who does things offensively with the bat and can do things defensively that other players look at and say, “He’s pretty good, I want to be like that.” He hits balls on the ground he hits homeruns, singles, drops bunts, makes backhand plays. He’s one of the guys who will lead by example. You look at work ethics and you look at Dopirak and Scotty Moore and those guys are working hard every day. You look at Carlos Rojas who is taking ground balls religiously every day. A guy like Greenberg keeps the clubhouse loose.
What advantage do the 2006 Jaxx have over the 2005 Jaxx?
I’d have to look at the complete roster. I know they had some good players in Matt Murton and Greenberg and the guys that made it to the major leagues from here. This year, we have a balanced team. We have speed with Chris Walker, a defensive wizard at SS with Rojas. We have power at the corners with Moore and Dopirak. Eric Patterson can do it all. He’s got 5 tools. He can hit for power. He’s not a 30-40 HR guy but he’s a 15 guy. We’ve got the guys on the mound with Carlos Marmol, Juan Mateo, David Cash is coming back from an injury and he has really good stuff. Keep these guys healthy and they should win a lot of games.
Impression of Pringles Park?
Very nice, very nice. I was impressed with the playing surface and the condition of the field. Justin has done a really good job here, now we just have to fill up the seats.
Top goals for 2006?
Motivate these players and get the best of their ability out of every day. If you play hard every day and you do things right, you do the fundamental things right, and you’re doing the things right then you’re doing the things that go along with winning. If you’re doing things right you’re going to win games and losing is no fun. To win you have to do things right. I know that we have the players who can go out and win ballgames on a consistent basis.
What is your message to the fans that will keep up with all of the games this season and hopefully into the postseason?
Keep watching those box scores and come out to the ballpark as well. They’re going to see some fun, exciting, well-played sound baseball. We’re going to do the little things right. We’re going to steal some bases and we’re going to hit some homeruns. We’re going to pitch some shutouts. There’s no better fan than a Cubs fan. If you look around the world, you see Cubs fans all around the world everywhere you go.
Last year, Felix Pie was the most touted prospect. Which player on this team is the next breakout player in the Cubs organization?
It could be a number of players. If Chris Walker continues to develop like he’s developing, he could be an exciting power. Eric Patterson is definitely a player to watch if you look at his numbers from last year. You can’t discount Scotty Moore who had 20 homeruns last year or Brian Dopirak, who had 39 homeruns 2 seasons ago. He’s had such a successful spring training that I am looking forward to similar numbers from this year if he stays healthy. He’s swinging the bat really good and he had a great spring. I think it’s going to roll right over into the season.