The 24-year-old Thomas batted .275 with six home runs, 17 doubles, five triples and 40 RBI through 75 games at Tennessee, and we asked him about the difference in playing time this season, his work this summer, and more.
Q: In the beginning, it didn't seem like you were playing as much as you were a season ago. As the season has progressed, now it seems like you're playing most every night. How has your playing time differed from years past?
A: With [Smokies manager Bill] Dancy, he has his own special way of putting people in and we have a lot of position players on this team that can play everyday. He's doing the best he can to get everybody in this.
Q: You haven't played the outfield since May, but you were getting some looks there earlier in the year. How did your reps in the outfield go?
A: It (went) well. I played the outfield a little bit in high school so it's a natural transition. As long as I'm out there on the field, it doesn't matter what I'm playing. It's just about being out there in between the lines.
Q: Did the Cubs approach you about the outfield in spring training or did this all come about after you were assigned to Double-A and there was an influx of infield depth?
A: They approached me in spring training just because of the National League and Double-A with the double switches and stuff. Obviously the more positions you play the better chance they have of keeping you out on the field. They worked with me a little bit in spring training and they weren't afraid to put me out there during the season.
Q: Was it frustrating being that this was the first season where you'd come to the ballpark not knowing if you were playing on a night to night basis?
A: A little bit, but you've got to come to the field and if you're in there, you're in there and if you're not, you're not. But you can still play and come off the bench at any time.
Q: Did you get the impression that this year would be any different in terms of playing time?
A: We have a lot of depth at middle infield throughout the organization, so I had a feeling they were going to be bumping people around and that playing time wasn't going to be as much for everybody.
Q: When you're not sure if you're going to play every night like in the beginning, does that make it harder to keep your average at the level you'd had in the past?
A: Yeah, it's definitely hard not knowing when you're going to play because you can get into a rhythm and the next thing you know, you're not playing the next day and your rhythm can die. You've got to stay mentally focused throughout.
Q: What are you working on this summer with your approach and your swing?
A: Right now, I'm trying to drive the ball to all fields – mainly to right center field and right field more consistently than I have been in the past.
Q: What other ways have you tried to help the team out?
A: Anyway possible. The team that I'm playing with is very open-minded. We definitely joke around and con around in the clubhouse and it definitely keeps a winning spirit throughout the season.
Q&A with Tony Thomas
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