Q&A with Mike Wagner

SFDugout.com recently had the chance to talk with the Giants 5th round draft choice in 2003 Mike Wagner. Find out how Mike handled draft day, how he is handling his new position, at what point he knew he would make a career out of baseball, and how he is handling life as a professional baseball player.

SFD: Bring us back to draft day last year. You were drafted in the 5th round. What were you doing in draft day, and what was your thought process entering draft day?
Mike Wagner: I was off from school, and I was home with my father. Basically he was listening to the draft, and I was in the other room watching television. I was just too nervous to listen to the draft myself. I didn't want to sit there the whole time, and go through the waiting process, so I just decided to watch a movie. My dad was the one that was listening, and once he heard my name he just came downstairs, and told me the news.

SFD: Did you expect the Giants to draft you? Did you know of any other teams that showed interest in you?
Mike Wagner: I really did not have any expectations going into the draft. My mind set was whatever happens, happens. I had been talking to a bunch of teams, but I knew the Giants really liked me. I talked to them a couple days prior to the draft, and I got the feeling they wanted me, so in a way I did expect them to draft me.

SFD: In 2002 you moved from third base to left field. First of all, why the switch, and how was the adjustment for you like?
Mike Wagner: Pretty much in college we had lots of guys in the infield that could hit, and the team tried to put in as many bats in the lineups, so I was the most versatile guy they could move. At that point I didn't know if it would be for a week, a month, or for good. It just ended up being as time went by that I handled the position well, and I stayed in the outfield.

SFD: Do you have a preference of one position over the other?
Mike Wagner: Not anymore…I feel like I can play any position on the field. As long as I am out there playing, I am happy. I feel I can play any position on the field. At first I thought the move would be pretty easy, however it was a lot harder than I thought. It took me over a full year, probably last summer was the point that I felt really comfortable out there. At that point I felt I was getting good reads off the bat, and became more comfortable playing the outfield. Now I am fine, and it doesn't bother me, but at first it was harder than I thought, and found out it is a lot harder than it looks.

SFD: How have you been coming along defensively in the new position?
Mike Wagner: This past year I have really been working hard on my defense, working on my arm, just making sure I will be an everyday guy as I move up the system.

SFD: Do the Giants as an organization have a hitting philosophy that they try to instill in their young hitters?
Mike Wagner: I'm not sure as an organization that we have an actual philosophy, I just think it varies from player to player. What they want me to try to do is just stay real aggressive at the plate, and try to get some good swings off, and not to waste any at bats. As I get older, and understand a little better what I am trying to do they might tell me to be a little more selective, but for now they have just told me to be real aggressive when I am hitting.

SFD: What would you say has been the biggest step in your development?
Mike Wagner: The biggest step for me has been just playing everyday. In college we played 3 or 4 times a week, so if you had a bad series or something wrong with your swing, you had couple of days to get try to improve, and re-focus for the weekend. However, the biggest adjustment for me has been making those adjust on back to back days, and trying to fall into those big slumps.

SFD: At what point did you realize that baseball would be something you would be making a living out of?
Mike Wagner: Honestly, probably when I was 10 years old. I'm sure everyone thinks they would be a baseball player, but that has been the only thing I knew how to do, and the only thing I envisioned doing. It has pretty much been my plan my whole life. I never thought about doing anything else, and never thought of doing anything else. I never thought or wanted of being a police officer or a fire fighter, it just has always been baseball for me.

SFD: What has been the most memorable baseball moment for you?
Mike Wagner: I would say draft day was a pretty big day for me. Just because since high school, and college I had always looked forward to that day. Everything that I have been working for was going to pay off on that day. I knew the day was going to come, so it was just a really good feeling to have it come, go well, and make it seem worth it. At that point I knew all my hard work paid off, and it will be something I'll remember for a long time. I was just happy to share all the excitement with my parents, and friends. It was just a real rewarding day for me, and really exciting as well.

SFD: Is there a player in the majors that you looked up to while growing up?
Mike Wagner: When I was younger it was always Ken Griffey Jr. I guess I don't profile much like him though. When I was younger I was always in the infield, and he played outfield. I am a right handed hitter, he was a left handed hitter, but he was my favorite player growing up.

SFD: Did you have a favorite team? Was it the Mariners?
Mike Wagner: Yea, Seattle was my favorite team. I grew up just outside of Seattle so I always watched them.

SFD: Is there a certain pitch now that you are at the professional level that has given you the most problems?
Mike Wagner: I wouldn't say that there is a specific pitch that gives me the most problems. I would say that just swinging at the wrong pitch gets me in trouble many times. I don't know what it is, but if I chase couple of pitches outside of the zone, I just fall behind the count, and end up getting in real trouble.

SFD: Since entering professional baseball, what would you say has been the biggest lesson you have learned?
Mike Wagner: Biggest lesson I have learned has probably been not to be so hard on myself after every game, and that I just have to let it go, and start fresh the next day. I realize an 0-4 does not mean much now than it did when I was younger, and didn't play as much. I am just learning to let the bad games go, and just look forward to the next at bat, or the next day. Just trying to play the game one at bat at a time, and one day at a time has been the biggest lesson for me.

SFD: One thing you want Giants fans to know about you?
Mike Wagner: Just that I am always out on the field pouring my heart into everything I do. I will give the fans and my team everything I have every single game. I'm just going to leave it all on the field, and do my absolute best.

SFDugout.com would like to thank Mike for taking time out to talk with us, and would also like to than Media Relations manager Jason Gordon for arranging the interview.

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