Josh Lansford Interview

Class-A Peoria third baseman Josh Lansford may be a hot prospect in the Cubs farm system entering his first full season in 2007, but for the time being, he's trying not to freeze.

Over the weekend, freezing cold temperatures mixed with snow forced the cancellation of the final two games of Peoria's opening series against the Wisconsin TimberRattlers in Midwest League play.

Lansford was on the field for Thursday's season opener in Appleton, Wis., and it was an experience unlike any other for the California native and son of former major league infielder Carney Lansford.

With Peoria having an off-day on Sunday and their two scheduled games at Wisconsin "snowed out" on Friday and Saturday, we caught up with the 22-year-old Lansford as he and his teammates took in some extra rest before preparing for their next scheduled stop in Burlington, Iowa, starting Monday.

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Have you managed to thaw out from all the snow and cold weather yet?

Yeah, it was absolutely freezing outside and almost unbearable in our first game. It was almost to the point where you did not want to go back on to the field.

Had you ever played in any conditions remotely close to that?

No. Being from California, we don't get many snowstorms. (laughs)

Enough about the weather. What were the highs and lows of your first Spring Training with the Cubs?

One of the biggest high's for me was getting called up to a big league game (against San Diego) and getting a base hit. I proved to myself that the dream is possible and that I can play up there and compete. Aside from that, it was all awesome. Most of us didn't know what to expect, but we ended up putting together some big games and having a lot of fun. Our (Class Low-A squad) record was 11-3, so it was a good showing.

One of your teammates, Dylan Johnston, got a similar chance to go up to the big league team last year and hit a home run in his only at-bat. How did you react when you were told you'd be going over to where the major leaguers were in Arizona?

I actually had a feeling that they were going to bring me up for a couple of games. I was invited to the mini-camp right before Spring Training and they told us they were going to let us out early just in case the big league team might need an extra infielder or outfielder. When they told me, I was excited and called my family right away. It was a tremendous honor.

Before you left for Peoria, what area did you spend the most time working on this spring?

I actually wanted to concentrate mostly on the offensive portion of my game. Defensively, I've been there and been good for a long time. Offensively, I wanted to make sure I was building off of what I learned last year in the Instructional League and just keep that rolling. Other than that, it was just about going out, competing, and trying to win a spot on a roster.

What did most of your hitting work consist of?

It was more about my approach and becoming more consistent than anything else. (Cubs Minor League Hitting Coordinator) Dave Keller helped me with a bunch of the game's mental aspects.

We hear a lot about the mental side from young players. How often do the coaches stress that area?

It's not so much "mental," as it is about the approach that Lou Piniella has regarding situational hitting, and making sure you have a game plan when you go up to the plate. In that regard, I definitely wanted to make sure I was on the right end of the deal.

Now that you're in Peoria, what goals have you set for yourself this season?

Personally, I just want to work hard and let the numbers take care of themselves. I do have a couple of team goals. I'd just like to finish the season in first place and win a lot more games than we lose. (laughs)

What has it been like playing for Ryne Sandberg so far?

He's always out on the field. He'll hit us groundballs. As a Hall of Famer, whatever he says is gold to guys like us. If he sees something that you're doing wrong, he corrects it right away. It's an absolute blessing to have a guy like that around.

Now we get to ask about your dad. How much advice are you taking from him these days?

Oh, he helps me every day. I call him every day and tell him exactly what I did that day. He's taught me the game, and he knows my swing better than even I do. When I tell him what I did wrong, he can correct it even over the phone. I can't even imagine not having him around because I've come to rely on him so much as a baseball coach and as a mentor. Every day, he's got something for me to learn. He's the Triple-A hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies' team now and if he sees something in his game that might help me, he'll tell me about what they did in certain situations.

You said offense is your main focus for now, but what about your defensive work?

This past off-season, I spent a lot of time just working on my range. I worked really heard in Phoenix, Arizona, with Mack Newton on getting quick first steps, staying low and making sure I can get to certain balls. Junior Spivey also helped me a lot with groundballs.

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