Spring Camp Q&A: Matt Creighton

<B>MESA, Ariz.</B> — Matt Creighton attended three separate colleges before being signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Cubs in June 2002. He shared his thoughts on this year's spring camp with us recently.

Inside The Ivy: Matt, how have things gone for you so far this spring?

Matt Creighton: I'm working on finding my swing a little, even though I hit fairly often in the offseason. Hitting is a constant game of adjustments and I'm mostly working on my timing and balance. I'm also out here getting my arms in shape and working on my footwork at second base.

Inside The Ivy: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Matt Creighton: I'm going into my third full season and fourth overall with the Cubs. I signed in 2002 and played a little while for Mesa in the Arizona League before going to Lansing for the playoffs. The last two years I've played in Lansing, Daytona, West Tenn and Des Moines.

Inside The Ivy: Who are some of the biggest mentors you've worked with in the Cub organization these last couple of years?

Matt Creighton: Everyone has had a good influence on me. Jeff Huson has helped me a lot with the transition to second base and improving on my infield work. My manager in rookie ball, Carmello Martinez, helped a lot with my hitting and approach at the plate. Richie Zisk was also a roving instructor my first couple of years, so I've had good instructors the whole way. I haven't had a bad one yet.

Inside The Ivy: So who would you credit most for helping with the adjustments from Class-A ball the year before to Double-A and even Triple-A last season?

Matt Creighton: Von Joshua (Diamond Jaxx Hitting Coach) helped a lot with my swing and approach, as did Pat Listach (hitting coach) at Iowa. Pat has a really good idea of what's going on. Both of those guys - and it really started even lower with the Class-A levels - helped me the most.

Inside The Ivy: What was the most noticeable difference in the jump from Class-A ball to the upper echelons of the farm system?

Matt Creighton: Two things: First, more plays are made in the field. Fielders have more skills, so you don't get as many cheap hits. Secondly, pitchers have much better command of their off-speed pitches, whereas in A-ball you know you're going to get a fastball at least once in the count. In Double-A, it's much more difficult.

Inside The Ivy: Tell us a little about your stint at Triple-A. Were you a little disappointed to learn you'd been demoted after being called up and hitting almost .400 in 70-plus plate appearances?

Matt Creighton: I was doing really well, but it was somewhat of a numbers game. They explained to me that they wanted to make sure I got as many at-bats as I could, so they told me that with so many veterans in Triple-A, Double-A was the right place for me at the time. It was disappointing, you know, but at the same time I was also encouraged, because I wanted to play as much as possible. If that meant going back to Double-A, I didn't have any problems with it. There was a great group there and a great coaching staff.

Inside The Ivy: Tell us a little about the defensive aspect of your game. You committed only seven errors last year and just eight the year before.

Matt Creighton: I'm more prone to second base, but we had Richard Lewis, the player of the year in the Southern League, on our team at Double-A, so I played a little at first base when Micah Hoffpauir went down temporarily. I didn't really start to play second again until the last month of the season. You have to get in where you can, and I played a couple of games in left, one at third, and 30 or so at first. As long as I can get in there and get my bat in the lineup, it doesn't matter; I just want to be playing.

Inside The Ivy: How difficult was it to constantly adjust to all of those different positions?

Matt Creighton: Well, it was tough. You have to learn how to go about it, and the way I went about it was if I played a certain position that day, I'd just take all of my infield practice at that position before the game. If I wasn't, I'd try to rotate as much as I could between positions, so even if I never got fully smoothed out, I was not far from there. Defense is kind of my niche. I had a couple of games where I struggled, but for the most part I was happy about my performance.

Inside The Ivy: Tell us a little about your college days. We understand you spent time with three separate universities.

Matt Creighton: Well, I started my college career in 1998-99 at Stanford and had two injury plagued years, so I transferred. I loved the coaching staff there, but sometimes when you're hurt a lot you feel a change of scenery is good for you. I eventually transferred to Fresno State and unfortunately things didn't work out for me there, because I had more of the injury bug and ended up choosing to transfer again. I took a redshirt my freshman year in college and had a fifth year left, but my only options were Division III or another lower level. My friend Scott Richlin and I played baseball together, and he knew I was looking for a place to play. He talked to the coach in Benedictine (Kan.) and recommended me, so it worked out well. I went out there and had an amazing year and was very fortunate to get the opportunity.

Inside The Ivy: Thanks for joining us, Matt. And my apologies for earlier.

Matt Creighton: (laughing) No problem.

Author's Note: I feel I would be remiss not to mention "earlier," a somewhat humorous story that took place during the course of my interview with Matt. Needless to say, more often than not when I interview players for the first time, I'm quite sure of their identity from the start, as any reporter is. So, you can imagine my surprise when halfway through this interview, Matt paused for a moment and asked, "You don't mean Matt Craig, do you?" As it turned out, for the first 10 minutes of the interview (or approximately 50 percent of the way through), I was under the impression that the person whom I was speaking with was actually Craig, who of course bears a similar name in conversation. Both Matt (Creighton) and I had a good laugh once we realized the confusion, and I was fortunate enough to receive his kindness and understanding. Now, to explain just how the slip-up occurred, you may recall our interview with third base prospect Casey McGehee earlier this week. In that interview, I was quite certain that McGehee had told me his roommate this spring was Craig; not Creighton. Admittedly, the odds that I misheard McGehee are greater than the chance he misspoke. Rest assured, however, that the recent Adam Greenberg interview was in fact conducted with Adam Greenberg; not Alan Greenspan ...

Steve Holley

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