BravesCenter Exclusive - Q&A with Adam LaRoche

On Sunday night Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche spent about forty minutes visiting with the members of the BravesCenter.com forum. Here's a wrap up of the conversation between the fans and the Braves primary starter at first base.

FAN: How does he feel about the infield on the 2005 team?
ADAM: Great. It's last year's infield. For me, personally coming back this year it's going to be a little bit easier just getting to play that many games last year and getting a feel for how the other guys play and how we play together.

FAN: Do you feel ready for regular season to begin?
ADAM: More than ready. I was ready two weeks ago.

FAN: What does he see as weaknesses in the 2005 team?
ADAM: First base is the only weakness on the team!

FAN: Rochy, do you feel you're ready to play everyday & hit left-handed pitching?
ADAM: I'm ready when Bobby is. I don't blame him for playing Julio as much as he does. I've said it before the guy hits .300 every year.

FAN: Do you ever plan to try to pitch again?
ADAM: I would love to. As a matter of fact I threw a bullpen just messing around a couple of days ago. It made me miss it even more.

FAN: Adam, what are your goals this year in terms of Avg/Homers/RBI?
ADAM: I don't have any specific goals as far as numbers. I would like to get more consistent than last year and by doing that it will take care of the numbers and all the rest.

FAN: How has Chipper influenced you over this year and last year ( I know he took you under his wing, so to speak)?
ADAM: Chipper's the type of guy that sees pitchers and doesn't forget them. He was constantly coming up to me during the games when new pitchers would come into the game and tell me how he would pitch me. Him being left-handed has helped me a lot because they try to pitch us the same.

FAN: What do you want improve on that you thought you could have done better at last year?
ADAM: There are two things. First, fielding. I think I could have done a better job last year on my first step quickness. And I really want to do better in my two strike approach at the plate.

FAN: How has Mondessi been in the clubhouse? Do you think he can have a great year like he has had in the past?
ADAM: He's been great. For the bad rap that he's gotten you would think this is a totally different guy. He's been incredibly generous as far as taking care of the young guys. Not only that but he looks great at the plate.

FAN: Adam, you sort "clicked" at the plate at some point last year. Was there a specific moment or a specific adjustment that you can pinpoint when that happened?
ADAM: I couldn't really put a finger on it, but I think I just got more confident as the season went along. I just felt more comfortable and really felt more a part of the team as the season went along. Not only that but seeing the pitchers second and third time through didn't hurt as well.

FAN: How's the clubhouse chemistry this year compare to last year? How are the new guys like Huddy, Kolb, Mondesi, and Jordan (new old guy) fitting in?
ADAM: It's pretty early to really know what the chemistry is like. For me right now it's excellent, but last year it looked excellent too. We just didn't click late in the season when we needed too.

FAN: Adam, how much do you interact with Julio? Who do you listen to most in the dugout?
ADAM: We talk everyday. The great thing about Julio is that he is more like a player/coach and by that I mean there is no jealousy between who is getting more at bats. He's there to help. He wants to win. He's constantly telling me things to improve my game.

FAN: So, Adam, the program guide list M. Giles at 5-8, how tall is he really?
ADAM: 5'6".

FAN: What advice has Terry Pendleton given you about your hitting and what is it like catching those missles from Furcal?
ADAM: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's TP's approach. He's not one of those hitting coaches that wants you to change your swing if you go 0-10.

After about the first ten games last year I had to have a special pad put in my glove. Enough said.

FAN: Adam, I don't know but have you put less waggle in your your batting stance at the plate or is it just me?
ADAM: I worked hard with my dad this winter to get the hitch out of my swing. For me, that's where my power comes from. But if I can just calm it down a little bit I think I'll be ok.

FAN: Do you notice all the fans comments, cheers, and insults during the games? Or are you totally focused on the game that you don't notice?
ADAM: I don't even hear my own teammates half the time so I sure as heck don't hear the fans.

FAN: How often do you talk to your brother Andy, and how cool would it be for you guys to one day play on the same team?
ADAM: As a matter of fact I took him some bats today when we played in Vero. It would be great if Atlanta would take him. I told them to draft him two years ago and they told me that one LaRoche was plenty.

FAN: Do the players discuss the battles for the last OF and RP spots on the roster?
ADAM: The veterans do. They have a little bit of say when it comes to who is making the team. A lot more goes into it than just who is putting up numbers in spring training. Bobby wants a good fit in the clubhouse.

FAN: What baseball player did you idolize growing up? (besides your dad)
ADAM: Mark Grace. Read Bill's book for more.

FAN: Adam, when is the last time you hit a homer to left field?
ADAM: It's no fun to hit them to left field

FAN: Do you have reason to believe that Andruw will be consistent this year?
ADAM: If you haven't heard, he's spread out his stance this spring. He's concentrating more on staying up the middle.

FAN: You got to hit against a left hander in Randy Johnson this spring, what was your planned approach against him and also what was the mood like in the clubhouse after he threw the perfect game against yall last year?
ADAM: That's one guy that I never wanted to face. The biggest difference is that he is so tall and it looks like he's throwing from about 45 feet. With him being that tall and throwing that hard just makes it that much harder to face him.

Adam LaRoche will be featured in Bill Shanks's new book on scouting and player development philosophies called Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. It will be released next month. Bill can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com


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