Post-season Q&A: Casey McGehee

Casey McGehee has advanced a level through the Cubs' farm system each year since being drafted out of Fresno State in 2003. He spent 2006 at Triple-A Iowa, where he batted .280 in 135 games at third base primarily. Now, McGehee is preparing for Winter Ball in Mexico and is currently with the Cubs in Arizona -- loosely getting some looks at another position.

Inside The Ivy: How do you sum up the year you had in your first Triple-A season?

Casey McGehee: I was relatively pleased with the way my season ended up. It would have been nice if we'd ended up in the playoffs, which is always your intention at the end of the year. We couldn't quite get over the hump, but now I'm actually down here in Arizona in Instructs and getting myself ready for Winter Ball. Hopefully I'll improve myself and help the Cubs win some ball games one of these days.

Inside The Ivy: What are some of the things you feel you need to improve on?

Casey McGehee: I think it's pretty much the same things it will always be: being a little more consistent at the plate with my swing and obviously trying to improve in the field. This off-season, the big thing for me is to change my body a little bit and see if I can't come into camp next year in good shape. Hopefully I'll add some quickness and strength, so that some of those pitches I get that didn't get over the outfielder's head will have some extra carry on them.

Inside The Ivy: What was the biggest difference or differences between 2006 and your previous years with the Cubs?

Casey McGehee: This year, I got off to a little bit of a slow start, which was something new for me. The past couple of year's, I was accustomed to good starts. It's always nice to get off to a good start, but this year was a little backwards for me as I started getting hot toward the end. It was a bit of an adjustment for me going up to Triple-A. There were some guys who had been around a little longer and knew what they were doing on the mound. Not that the Double-A guys don't, but the experience some of those (Triple-A) guys had definitely played a part in the way they contributed. You're going to have to have an approach to go up there with them.

Inside The Ivy: What all can you tell us about your off-season plans? You're going down to Mexico in a few days, we understand.

Casey McGehee: Yeah, I played down in Mexico last year. I'm actually going down there this year to play for a different team. I enjoyed my time there last year and felt it was a good league to work on some things. There were some good players that played in the summer leagues down there. I think it will be a good time to go back down there after being in Triple-A for a year. The pitchers in Mexico have a tendency to pitch more of the same way they do in Triple-A. There are some quality arms. I'll go down there and definitely work on hitting some off-speed pitches. It will be good to work on that part of the game, as well as my defensive approach.

Inside The Ivy: Are there any teammates from the Cubs' system that will be with you there?

Casey McGehee: I don't think anybody is actually going down to the same league. Augie Ojeda I think is going to play at some point down there. There are a few guys going down to Venezuela and of course the Fall League out here. There are quite a few guys I played with this past year that are going to play in Winter Ball. I think it's good. I think some of these guys who didn't go last year that I was talking to are going to enjoy themselves and see that it's a very valuable tool over the winter months.

Inside The Ivy: Being that you played in over 100 games the past two seasons and also added some time in the Winter League's, do you feel you're physically up for the challenge after so many games without a prolonged break? It seems like a lot of work for any ballplayer.

Casey McGehee: It is, but it's just like anybody else with a 9-to-5 job. This is our job and it's what we have to do to improve. You can do the drills, which is fine and good, but at some point, playing in the games and being in all the situations is how you prepare for next year.

Inside The Ivy: This year at Iowa, you got in a game or two at first, short and second. You also did some catching earlier in your career. Has the organization approached you about taking on a few added positions in the infield the way they have several other players?

Casey McGehee: Not directly. It's always something that will help you. I'm actually down here just messing around and catching some bullpens. In case there's ever an emergency situation, I can always go back behind the plate and catch. But I don't know what's going to happen or what next year is going to bring. I think it's something that will benefit me more if something comes up and I need to move over somewhere. Right now, I'm planning to go back and have third base as my primary position. Wherever I have to go to get some at-bats is fine with me. That's the biggest thing: getting the at-bats. As long as you're getting them, wherever you're playing in field shouldn't really matter that much. It's always good to learn a new position.

Inside The Ivy: How happy were you with regards to defense this year?

Casey McGehee: It's been something that earlier in my career, I felt was a weakness of mine. I've done a lot of work and feel that I've turned it into something I do very well. This past year, I would give myself a B on my defense I guess. I think you can never be satisfied. I had stretches where I played very well and also stretches where maybe I didn't make an error, but felt I wasn't playing the best defense in the world. It's just like anything else: you go through your hitting slumps and also your slumps in the field. There are always things to improve, especially on defense. You've got to be ready. You don't have any control over where the ball is hit to you; you just have to be ready to react and that's something you can always work on. You have to work your hands a little better. It's something that's always going to be a work in progress. I think anybody who tells you they've got defense all figured out would have to be lying to you. I don't think you can ever have something like that always figured out.

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