JOSH LANSFORD: Yeah, I guess. It was a bit of a surprise.
In what way?
JOSH LANSFORD: I just didn't know if it was going to happen that soon. I had a feeling that it would come at some point, but it was kind of a surprise (still).
It seems that you've been finding the gaps since the promotion. Is that part of the approach you have at the plate?
JOSH LANSFORD: Yeah, absolutely. When I first got here, (Smokies manager) Buddy (Bailey) called me into his office and talked to me about hitting and he mentioned a couple of things. (Hitting coach) Barbaro Garbey was there as well. They saw a couple of things after a couple of days and made a couple of adjustments. Since then, I've been hitting the ball really hard.
What kinds of adjustments?
JOSH LANSFORD: It was just more raising up my hands and standing a little taller at the plate. They felt maybe I was tying myself up because I was crouched over too far. The balls that I should have been hitting in the gaps were groundballs.
Can you tell a difference in your at-bats now?
JOSH LANSFORD: Yeah, absolutely. They also talked to me about getting right on time and if I needed to take a couple of pitches in the count to make sure that my timing was on, then Buddy said that's what he wants me to do. It's helped me to see more pitches and watch what pitchers do to other players, and in just having a plan.
Playing third base as you do, has there been any thought of giving you some reps at other positions? I mean, Aramis Ramirez is only a step closer to you now.
JOSH LANSFORD: That's true. I tried to play a little first base in the Fall League, but that (ended) up even worse than third base. (laughs) But yeah, I'd be open to a possible position change if I can help out the club.
But mainly, what you are working on right now is with the bat.
JOSH LANSFORD: Yeah. That's the one thing I need to improve on is hitting more consistently throughout the season and making those tough weeks fewer in between.
Defensively, are you pleased with how your work at third is going?
JOSH LANSFORD: I think it's good. I think some times I try to make stuff out of nothing. I try to take chances every once in awhile and some times those are the balls I make errors on, but I can live with that; I can live with making an aggressive mistake or trying to help out a pitcher by making a fantastic play instead of just throwing the ball over to first base.
A lot of times when players are promoted, they seem to do better after the promotion than they were previously. Is that because of the confidence boost maybe?
JOSH LANSFORD: I think so. I think that, for myself, it was kind of a fresh start where I could go out and kind of start over because I got off to a real slow start this season and was battling back. This promotion gave me a fresh start.
What was the reason behind the "slow start," and are the adjustments that you spoke of something that you'd implemented even in Daytona?
JOSH LANSFORD: I don't really know what caused the slow start down there. I just wasn't hitting the ball the way I'm capable of hitting it; certain pitches that I'm getting where I'm hitting the gaps now, I was fouling off or hitting on the ground. It was a tough first half.
Being that you are in Double-A now and ultimately within earshot of Chicago, does that set in on you now when you go to the plate and have a good at-bat or a couple of good nights like you had recently?
JOSH LANSFORD: Yeah. Whenever you get called up, you're one step closer. Buddy always says, "You're not making a play up here to prepare yourself for the next time you make a play in Double-A; you're preparing yourself for when you play in the big leagues, so that you've seen what you've seen and you learn from it. If you make a mistake, instead of getting mad, just make sure you don't do it again because you're not practicing to be in Double-A; you're practicing to be in the big leagues.'
Do you still wear the bill on your hat completely flat?
JOSH LANSFORD: Yes. I do, but some times, especially with the humidity, the hat gets really sweaty and it kind of bends on its on. I try to keep it straight.
Is that just a personal preference with you -- the hat?
JOSH LANSFORD: It has to do with that and it has to do with -- if I curve it, I can't keep it as low. If there's a runner on third or second base [during an at-bat], I don't want the hitter to see that I'm looking at him as he takes a peak to third base.
So there's actually some strategy behind this?
JOSH LANSFORD: Yeah, I don't want him to – I can pull the hat down low where he can't see my eyes, so that the hitter doesn't really know whether I noticed that he took a peak down to third base to bunt. That way, I can look at him at all times and if I accidentally forget, he still can't see my eyes to see if I did.
Using your uniform to sway an at-bat. That's interesting.
JOSH LANSFORD: Yeah, I would say it helps also to see if the runner at second base is taking off to third base. It all started as a personal reference when I was 15 years old and all of our high school guys were doing it. I finally decided that it can actually help me a little bit. (laughs)