Q&A: West Tenn All-Star Casey McGehee

Casey McGehee's 2005 season has been a smashing success. The West Tenn all-star and third baseman will soon get set to depart for Mobile, Ala., in time for this year's annual festivities after batting above .300 following all but two games in his first season on the Double-A circuit. (Free preview of premium content.)

Inside The Ivy: Casey, the all-star game is coming up in a few days. Congratulations on being named to the team. How are feeling right now?

Casey McGehee: You know, it's that time of year when it's going to be nice to have that little break. At the same time, it's a lot easier when your team has been playing as well as we have been this season. For whatever reason when you're winning, it seems like the body holds up better and the bus rides aren't quite as long. Going to the park this year is a blast, especially with the good start we got off to. It's fun to be around these guys.

Inside The Ivy: Can you put into words how satisfied you are right now?

Casey McGehee: I know I talked to you a couple of times in the past about making the adjustments from college to pro--wooden bats and all. I feel like I'm starting to make those adjustments. I'm definitely pleased. I'm working a lot with Von (Joshua) and Bobby (Dickerson). They've been great about encouraging me to improve every day. From that respect, I'm pleased with the way things are going. I still feel like I have a long way to go to get where I need to be. It's nice to have some success along the way, especially when you have those adjustments to make. You no longer feel you're fighting just to stay above water. I'm definitely pleased with the way things have gone. We still have a long haul left.

Inside The Ivy: You've gotten a lot of starts again this year. Did you expect to start going into this season with a competitor like Matt Craig on the roster?

Casey McGehee: I really had no idea what was going to happen. I know that Matt (Craig) is an outstanding player. He had a great season here last year. I don't think anybody really knew exactly what was going to happen or what the plan was. It has worked out great. If you asked Matt, I think he'd tell you the same. At the beginning of the year, we knew someone would miss out on the at-bats somewhere along the way. But you have to credit Bobby. He's done a great job of getting everyone their at-bats. Everyone on this team feels like they're a part of the success and have contributed something at one point or another. I imagine it's tough for him to write out a lineup sometimes. You're going to have your up's and down's, but everyone is happy in the end.

Inside The Ivy: What have been the high points and low points of your year?

Casey McGehee: Honestly, I guess you really have to look at the whole first month just for the fact that I can't ever remember going to the park and having that much confidence where you knew you had a great chance to win. That still hasn't changed. Breeding personal success from that is the high point. We did have a bit of a low point when we went to Carolina and got swept last month. That was a big series for us and we just didn't play very well. Going back to the high points, that whole first half and the first month especially was definitely one. It was a big jump a lot of us made together. We went in as a group and made it a little easier. We all felt comfortable because we were around the same guys as last year (at Daytona). That shows camaraderie. The whole season has been a huge high point really. The camaraderie makes a huge difference--that bond of really pulling for each other. We've gotten a chance to know each other. You always feel the other guy's pain when he's struggling.

Inside The Ivy: How much pressure was taken off of you by knowing that you'd be at third base full time this year as opposed to also being behind the plate?

Casey McGehee: I think I felt I could really concentrate on making the adjustments hitting-wise. I didn't feel like I had this other huge task in front of me, trying to learn a new position. You pretty much have to change everything you do in catching. It's just a comfort level going over to third base. I'm not going to run into a new situation I haven't seen, unlike catching when it seemed like every night something new came up. That's the biggest thing.

Inside The Ivy: Do you ever have any regrets about catching, whether it be that you spent a whole season learning the position, or that it didn't work out as well as you'd have liked?

Casey McGehee: No, it gave me a whole new perspective on the game. I look at it from a different point of view. Going to big-league camp, I wouldn't trade that for anything. Even now, there's part of me that still misses catching. Part of me loves being back there. If ever a situation came up, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. I don't have any regrets. I learned about how pitchers attack hitters. Being around them more, it made me a better all-around ballplayer.

Inside The Ivy: Do you attribute any of your success this year to learning how well the pitchers attack you as hitters?

Casey McGehee: Yeah, I think I opened my eyes to situations of how they're going to get you out for the most part, or maybe their goal in certain situations, like when they're going to go after you or when they'll pitch around you. There are also times when you get a good hitter's count and they have to come right after you. From that point, I think it's helped knowing their point of view because you have a better approach. You get a guy on second with no outs and you mentally prepare yourself for attacking that pitcher and having a better idea of how he's going to approach you.

Inside The Ivy: You mentioned Bobby and Von earlier. How much of your success do you attribute to your coaches this year?

Casey McGehee: They've been great. Bobby has been really hard-nosed and Von is the same way. He's a little more laid back, but you can see they really want to develop solid major leaguers. They really want to see the guys they have be in the big leagues and they aren't going to accept anything other than that. That's what they expect of you. I think they definitely go out of their way to make sure that they're there to help you in any way they can, whether it's early in the morning or late at night. If you want to sit and talk about the game, they make themselves very available. All of the coaches I've had have been that way, but you can just see it in both of them. I don't have the same relationship with (pitching coach) Alan Dunn, but I imagine he's the same way with the pitchers. They're all really behind you. I think Bobby is really good at having that intense, hard-nosed attitude. He won't put up with any slack. If you have a bad night, he'll point it out to you, and Von is the same way. At the same time, they're the first to congratulate you on a good game.

Inside The Ivy: I know a guy you've spent a lot of time with these past two seasons is Brandon Sing. Were you surprised that he did not make the all-star roster?

Casey McGehee: He's in a tough spot, you know. There are a couple of other guys in this league with outstanding years that didn't make it. I'm sure if you look at the votes, it was real close. Since Brandon didn't make it, I've noticed a re-determination in him. I don't think he has a chip on his shoulder, but he's using that as a motivation. I think if you were to ask him, he'd tell you he's not where he wants to be. I think that might be the best thing going for him, and it's catapulting him. I really think he's going to take off this second half.

Inside The Ivy: We saw a lot of Daytona all-stars promoted to West Tenn after their break. Do you ever think about a mid-season promotion to Triple-A with the year you're having?

Casey McGehee: It's one of those things that honestly doesn't cross my mind, especially because it's only my second full season in the minors. No matter where I am, I know there are a lot of adjustments I need to make. There's always a part that wants to move up, because it's one step closer to your ultimate goal. But staying here, finishing up and going to the playoffs is not a bad thing. Playing with some of your closest friends is a great thing. For most of us, this is our first taste of Double-A ball. They probably want us to have a full year here from their point of view.

Inside The Ivy: You recently had a span of 10 hits in three games, including one five-hit night. What got you motivated for that performance?

Casey McGehee: (laughs) Honestly, it was one of those things where I wasn't thinking about anything. I was getting good pitches to hit, so it was pretty humbling. I haven't seen too many since. You can't really let it go to your head because it will let you know in a hurry if you do. I feel that if I can bottle up that approach in those three games and have it consistently, it will be a huge step forward for me. If I can maintain that approach, the rest will take care of itself.

Inside The Ivy: Thanks as always for your time, Casey. See you in Mobile.

Casey McGehee: Thanks, Steve. Looking forward to it.

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