Angels Prospect Interview: Jeff Mathis

Jeff Mathis has a chance to do what so many Angels prospects hope to accomplish in the next year or two – take over a starting spot on the team. The door opened when the team decided not to sign Bengie Molina but the work has just begun for the young catcher.

On the first day of the season with Salt Lake you tripled – and we all thought you would lead the league in triples..that didn't pan out. What happened?

Jeff Mathis (laughing): I don't have that much wheels.

One of the favorite sayings of the pundits is "he needs more games behind the plate" – how have you developed that side of your game since catching less than 50 in high school?

Jeff Mathis: I have been getting an opportunity to be back there everyday, handling different pitchers that come through and just being back there to get the innings has helped me development.

What is it like knowing that you go into camp fighting for a starting job with the big league club?

Jeff Mathis: It is exciting when I heard that I was going to get this opportunity but it is also kind of like ‘Oh, I have to get going.' Maybe a little added pressure that I shouldn't have on myself. I just have to get ready and do what I have done in the past.

How do you temper the excitement when camp comes around and just do your job?

Jeff Mathis: I am a guy that sits over in the corner and doesn't say much anyway. Just do what I have been doing. Go in and work hard, do the things that I need to do to open some eyes.

Talk about your first big league hit against Oakland?

Jeff Mathis: I thought I was going to have to face Zito but they took him out the inning before. It was off (Keiichi) Yabu.

The first pitch he blew a fastball right by me. It wasn't even close. I was so nervous. The next pitch he hung a breaking ball and did me kind of a favor after being behind the fastball. Hit a soft line drive up the middle.

Soft line drive right up the middle – just the way it was planned.

Jeff Mathis (dripping with sarcasm): Yea – off the end of the bat.

Talk about the experience of playing for the US in November and working with Davey Johnson?

Jeff Mathis: It was fun. He is a great manager and I had a blast. It is a dream – just like going to the big leagues – to be able to play for your country. It is a different ballgame when you are playing those games against different countries and representing your own. I had a lot of fun.

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