MadFriars' Interview: Donavan Tate

PEORIA, AZ: Given the largest bonus in Padres' history at a staggering 6.25 million dollars, Tate came with expectations of greatness. Scouts labeled him the "best athlete in the draft," and said he had a higher ceiling then any other player in the draft. Lofty expectations for an eighteen year old.

Unlike fellow 1st rounders Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Drew Storen, Aaron Crow, Rex Brothers, and Mike Trout all of whom have made their major league debuts, the #3 overall pick has yet to reach the Cal League.

Donavan was once again put back in Fort Wayne as he tries to get at-bats under his belt and hopefully finally stay healthy. He has suffered countless injuries, and been suspended for what was believed to be "synthetic marijuana."

We caught up with Tate to discuss the injury, the past, and the possibly bright future

It seemed like every time we turned around you were having another bad break and an injury. Can you tell us what last year was like for you

Donavan Tate: It was definitely frustrating.

It is frustrating to be injured what seems like all the time, but you have to hope that at some you can stay healthy. It did allow me to take a breather and step away from the game for a little bit.

I got to take a look at the game outside the game. I had a chance to not have to worry about the big stuff and really spend time working on the little things.

Can you talk at all about the suspension?

Donavan Tate: It was an unfortunate incident, and I am moving on from it.

What do you do over the offseason?

Donavan Tate: Just tried to get my wrist healthy. I worked out, worked out, and then worked out some more. Really working on the strength and conditioning aspect of my game. I really made a point this [offseason] to just continually focus on baseball and make sure I am healthy to play at anytime.

How is the wrist doing?

Donavan Tate: Its great. Finally back to one hundred percent. After it healed and I spent the last few months strengthening it, it is probably stronger than it has ever been.

Scouts always say that players will bulk up as they get into their early twenties; leading to more power and fewer stolen bases. Do you feel this accurately portrays your growth since you were drafted?

Donavan Tate: To some degree. I definitely have more muscle then when I was drafted and it will lead to more home runs, if I can stay healthy, but I feel like I haven't lost a step either defensively or on the base paths.

I think developing a better routine has allowed me to bulk up a bit while keeping my speed and agility.

What was the transition back to baseball like after missing so much time? Donavan Tate: It was easier than I thought it would be.

I think the biggest struggle was getting my timing back, as you can take all the swings in the cage you want, its nothing compared to live action.

With the wrist injury especially I was still able to do baseball related activities provide they didn't involve that arm. So I still was able to do a lot of running. Once the wrist healed [after the Instructs], I had plenty of time before baseball started again to make sure I was ready.

This spring training we have seen you spend time in all 3 OF positions. We know that you've spent a vast majority of your time with the Padres playing centerfield. Is there a reason you are getting more looks at the other outfield positions this spring, and where do you prefer to play.

Donavan Tate: They haven't really told me much, but rather just to keep my options open, which I am fine with. I like centerfield, as the center fielder is the leader of the outfield, and I see myself in that type of roll.

However, the other outfield spots have their own unique challenges to them, that I did not expect initially.

Truth be told though as long as my name is on the lineup card they could have me playing catcher and I would be happy.

What are your goals moving forward?

Donavan Tate: Of course the obvious goal is that I want to stay healthy for the entire year. Ideally I would have more creative and specific goals, but considering all the problems, I have had recently, if I can get in five hundred plus plate appearances, even if I do not hit well, I will consider this year a success.

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