Spring Training Q&A: Jake Fox

MESA, Ariz. - Cubs catching prospect Jake Fox has a motto that he keeps with him: solid behind the plate, then solid at the plate.

Inside The Ivy: Jake, tell us a little about some of the things you did in the offseason, not only to stay in shape but to enjoy some time off.

Jake Fox: Well, I didn't have much of an offseason, so I really only got about two months off. I really wanted to take advantage of my time, so I did some traveling. I also got engaged, so I tried to enjoy my time off, but you never really lose focus of the game. As much as I enjoyed my time off, you have to get back to work. As much as you'd like to get away from it, you never really can.

Inside The Ivy: Talk to us a little about your defense. We know you struggled some last season with errors and passed balls.

Jake Fox: One thing they always say about catching is that it's the only position that gets easier as you move up. Having said that, I know other people who watch me play would say my defense is a shortcoming. I worked on improving my defense the whole offseason, because I didn't want to be known as one-dimensional; I want to play both aspects of the game well. So this offseason, I put in a lot of work on my defense and I believe I've made a lot of improvements. I'm going to take a lot of pride in my defensive numbers and the way I handle myself behind the plate. After all, that's what's going to help me move up. Then when I'm fortunate to get to the majors, it will be about my offense. I always say, "Solid behind the plate, then solid at the plate."

Inside The Ivy: Tell us a little about your experience in the Arizona Fall League. We know you weren't expecting to get the call to join the league.

Jake Fox: Yeah, it was a great surprise. It was a good opportunity; I had the impression in instructionals that I'd be there until the middle of October. The day before I was supposed to go home from instructional camp, Oneri Fleita called and told me the news. I just kind of took it and ran with it. No player in his right mind would turn down that experience. I didn't get to play a lot, but it was amazing. The experience was great and it helped me learn so much about the game. I had some great coaches who helped me tremendously. It was a great opportunity and it really helped my approach going into Spring Training. I feel that experience has really given me a jumpstart to the direction I'm heading in this season.

Inside The Ivy: Describe splitting time behind the plate with your teammate from last season, Alan Rick.

Jake Fox: Alan's a heck of a player. He was a lot of fun to work with, because we were never really trying to compete with each other for a spot. He's a doggone good player, and our pitching staff really enjoyed having us both back there. They all knew they were going to have a good guy to work with. Alan was left-handed and I was right-handed, so a lot of times it came down to what bat we needed in the lineup that day. He's young, and he came straight out of high school but he works really well. He's not your average catcher in the sense that he's quite tall (6'3"). He's going to be a heck of a player.

Inside The Ivy: You and Rich Hill are both University of Michigan alumni. Tell us a little about your relationship with Rich and the uniqueness of it.

Jake Fox: (laughs) You know, it was an interesting situation at Michigan. We were in a tough predicament, because we had three coaches there in my three years. So, it brought all of us together in a way others can't understand, because you didn't have your coaches; just each other. Coming here to play with Rich was a relief, because I knew there would be somebody I could trust and get along with. You sometimes hear stories about how there are some guys you can trust and some you can't. But I knew there was someone that was already here in Rich. Just having that comfort level really helps you relax.

Inside The Ivy: I want to show you a quote from a teammate of yours last year, Sean Marshall. Sean said, "Jake Fox is a good guy to throw to. I threw to him one or two times (in 2003), and you could tell there were a couple of things he needed to work on. But he nailed them down in the offseason and in Spring Training. He's a great guy to throw to ... He's a great catcher."

Jake Fox: Well I tell you what, they always say the guy who determines who catches you isn't the coach; it's the pitcher. So, whenever you have the confidence of your pitchers, it's one of the greatest things in the world. Sean is going to be a heck of a pitcher one day. To have his confidence really gives me great confidence. One of the best things you can get in terms of a compliment is pitchers saying they love throwing to you. It helps me feel better about myself.

Inside The Ivy: What is one thing most people don't know about Jake Fox?

Jake Fox: (laughs) Oh man, I've got a few things that only people around me know. For one, I grew up in a rural area, growing cows and doing 4H stuff, so I'm known as a farm boy. My family is full of big water skiers, so that's another thing people don't know about me. We also do a lot of bare-footing.

Inside The Ivy: Who are some of the coaches you and other catchers are working with this spring?

Jake Fox: In terms of hitting, I'm working with Von Joshua (West Tenn hitting coach). He's been patient with me and I really appreciate that. I love when coaches are patient and when they allow you to work things out for yourself. One of the things I have a tough time dealing with is aggressive coaches, and Von is not one of those. I really appreciate him and I'm having a great time working with him. As far as my catching is concerned, I'm doing a lot of work with Paul O'Toole, who came out of Notre Dame. He and I have been doing a lot of work, and he is one of those guys that has been around a little longer. He's had more experience at the higher levels, so I've been following him around and picking up experience. I've enjoyed working with him.

Inside The Ivy: Thanks for joining us, Jake. We look forward to seeing you again in 2005.

Jake Fox: Thanks to you, too!

Fox background: Fox was a third round pick in the 2003 draftn. He batted .260 in his rookie season at Class-A Lansing and .287 last year in 97 games with the Lugnuts.

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