Q&A with Ian Bladergroen

Bombers' 1B Ian Bladergroen checks in to give us a status on his injured wrist, how much fun it was to be a part of the Capital City team last year, who has the highest upside in the Mets' system, who is the biggest "sleeper" in his mind, and much more in this Q&A session with NYfansonly.com!

NYF: Tell us a little bit about your high school playing days and what it was like playing in junior colllege.

Ian Bladergroen: I was not scouted much in high school. I was a lot smaller in high school but still wound up starting on the varsity team as a sophomore. I got a little attention when scouts came to see Josh Mader, who is with the Phillies' organization now, play. I went on to play at Lamar Community College and that's where I really blossomed as a player. That was the best decision I ever made, going to Lamar. I learned a lot at Lamar, especially with the mental approach to the game. It was a small atmosphere there but I loved it.

NYF: So you went from a tiny junior college to making your professional debut with Brooklyn in 2003. What was that like?

Bladergroen: Words can not describe how much fun I had playing in New York. New York just simply has the best fans! It was a little overwhelming at first, but I made some good friends with the fans, and the Brooklyn fans just welcomed me. It was just awesome. It is really mind-blowing.

NYF: Tell us, what was it like on your Cap City team this past year?

Bladergroen: I love everyone on that team. That team was just great. The team camaraderie was just awesome. Everyone got along and appreciated the opportunity to play. There was no money on that team, I mean high draft picks so there were no prima donnas. Personally, I got off to a great start last year and I think the individual attention I got from the STEP camp had something to do with that. When I got injured, I was just really disappointed and heartbroken. We were just having so much fun last year that it was hard to see it end.

NYF: What exactly was your injury and how is it coming along?

Bladergroen: I had a torn ligament in my left wrist and they had to repair the cartilage. It was really a freak injury. I flied out to left field and when I was running back to the duguout, I couldn't get the batting glove off of my hand. The next day I had surgery and I had a cast on my arm up past my elbow. I took a few swings at the Instructs and it was still very tender so I didn't pick up a bat again until two weeks ago and it was still a little tender. Today (Tuesday) I hit about a bucket or a bucket and a half. There was still a little tenderness but I can tell its getting better. I am not in any rush so I'll take it a little slow. I have been able to continue lifting through all of this so at least I've been able to get some work done.

NYF: What would you say is the strongest part of your game?

Bladergroen: I guess I'd have to say my passsion to win. I am more of a team guy than an "I" guy. I am more about team chemistry and a clubhouse guy than a guy that cares about his stats. Kevin Millar is a good friend of the family and I'd say he and I are similiar in that regard. I am there to keep the clubhouse upbeat and pick guys up when they are down. It's just so much more fun to win than it is losing.

NYF: What would you say is your biggest weakness?

Bladergroen: Just the opposite, I hate to lose. I take losses personally. If we lose and I have a bad game too, I think it's my fault we lost. I am just really hard on myself. There was one time when Bowman threw me a ball over to first and I dropped the ball and the next thing you knew we had allowed four runs to score. I just remember kicking myself for days over that one and that's not good.

NYF: If you had to pick one guy, who would you say was the leader of your team at Capital City last year?

Bladergroen: Honestly, and this isn't a cop out, we led by committee last year. There just wasn't "one guy" that led the team. On any given night it wasn't on any one person's shoulders and that's what made our team so special last year. I guess a lot of guys looked up to me because I was a lead by example kind of guy. Dave (Hollins) and Jack (Lind) were laid back guys and they allowed us to lead ourselves and that's what we did.

NYF: Do you ever give yourself any sort of specific numbers you try to attain? I mean, do you ever tell yourself you want to hit X number of homeruns next season?

Bladergroen: I never really get hyped up on numbers. I've never been the type to set numerical goals like that, not over the course of the season anyway. I do have certain goals in the back of my mind, but its usually just to be better the next game. I mean, if I go 3-4 in one game, I want to go out the next day and be even better. But as far as invidual numbers, I don't really get into that. I'd rather go out and win championships each year than set and achieve personal goals.

NYF: Where do you think you'll be playing next season?

Bladergroen: I have no idea, honestly. It really blows my mind where I could have been had I not had the injury. I'm thinking, because of the injury, that I'll most likely start off in St. Lucie, and that's fine. My goal for next season is to get to AA at some point. My ultimate goal is to get to Shea and I know I will get there. It is just a matter of when.

NYF: Of all the guys you've played with, among the positional players, who is the one player that stands out in your mind as having the highest upside?

Bladergroen: It is definitely either Lastings Milledge or Shawn Bowman. They are both going to be really good. I am going to say Bowman because everyone else has probably told you Milledge (laughing). I love that kid (Bowman). He's like my kid brother. I took him under my wing last year in Brooklyn. He's the best defensive third baseman I've ever seen, let alone played with. He had a great offensive year last season and he still has a lot of room for improvement. I love his work ethic, his intensity, his attitude. I just love everything about him. The way he plays defense is scary and he's going to grow into his body. He has Scott Rolen potential.

NYF: What about the pitchers? Which pitcher has the highest upside in your opinion?

Bladergroen: Well Yusmeiro Petit is the obvious choice. I just don't understand him. I'll tell you what, he's no fun to play behind. There's hardly ever any balls put into play because he strikes everybody out. It gets boring out there (laughing). He really is a quiet guy and I think he'll continue to do well. He just throws a really heavy, and invisible, ball. The best thing I can say about Petit is we felt we were going to have to give the game away if we were to lose. You never want to say you knew you were definitely going to win, but if there was ever that feeling, it was when Petit was on the mound.

NYF: Of all the guys you've played with is there one guy that stands out in your mind as a "sleeper"? You know, a guy that might not get the attention he deserves but is somebody you think has what it takes to get to the Majors?

Bladergroen: (laughing) I am so glad you asked that question. Evan MacLane is a stud. He's five-foot nothing, a hundred and nothing, and all he does is give you a great chance to win. Really, he just makes people look stupid up there. I think he's great and I just hope he's given a chance to show his stuff in the Majors someday.

NYF: You were at the Instructs this past season. Was there one player that stood out in your mind?

Bladergroen: Well I wasn't really playing at the Instructs. I was rehabbing and didn't get to see any of the games really. But from what I hear, Ambiorix Concepcion has what it takes. Everyday you looked at the box scores and he was getting the game winning run, going 2-3, whatever. He was certainly getting people to talk about him. I also heard that Andrew Wilson was not looking too shabby while trying his hand at catching.

NYfansonly.com would like to thank Ian Bladergroen for taking the time to answer our questions. Be sure to check back next season as we'll be checking in with Ian from time to time.

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