MadFriars' Interview: Casey McElroy

FORT WAYNE -- Casey McElroy is a great example of the type of player the Padres' are not going to be able to take in the upcoming draft.

Its not that McElroy isn't a good prospect or that he hasn't performed up to expectations its that he was taken in the twelfth round of last year's draft when \San Diego was able to sign the former Auburn star for an above slot amount; in essence getting a higher round pick by being willing to pay for it.

The new collective bargaining agreement has put an end to this practice but San Diego in the 2010 and 2011 drafts was able to benefit by being willing to pay and gamble more on talent; which is one reason why they were one of the more highly ranked farm systems in baseball.

We interviewed Casey in the off-season when he was talked about fighting the label of a "slap hitter" and on making the transition to catcher. With the drafting of catcher Austin Hedges the plans to move behind the plate have been shelved and he's back to where he's always played the middle infield when we caught up with him at the end of April.

What happened to being a catcher?

They sent you down to the Dominican Republic and you worked really hard in the off-season and then they changed their minds?

Casey McElroy: It's kind of weird. Because there were two weeks left in spring and Randy Smith called me into the office and said don't give up on catching but we want you back at second. We still want you to work at it but you will be playing infield for the majority of this year.

I was kind of happy but a little disappointed because I put in so much work. Although it's also a positive because I'm sure it will always help me down the road.

You have quite a bit of experience playing second, short and third. How much of a difference is their between the positions?

Casey McElroy: I've mainly just played the middle infield. The ball comes at you a little different at second and you have a little more time there.

At third its more like being a hockey goalie, just get in front of it.

We always make a big thing coming up to the Midwest League and how cold it is in the first month. You played college ball at Auburn and you are from Orlando. How difficult was it for you?

Casey McElroy: it's really tough. It's kind of a shock and it started to snow in South Bend for the first four or five innings which isn't something that I've ever seen before. I don't know if you ever get used to it. I was talking to Kyle Gaedele, who is from up here, and he never got used to it either.

Hitting in the cold wether has not been easy for McElroy this season

It's not just that you have to put on a sweater but it really stings hitting a ball with a wooden bat.

Casey McElroy: Yeah. (laughs) You have to learn how to play with numb hands and if you are in the field and catch a ball from Austin Hedges, who has a hose, you can't feel your hand for the rest of the inning.

What has been the biggest adjustment between, the Northwest League, where you played last year, and the Midwest League which is a full season league?

Casey McElroy: I haven't noticed that big a difference. Some of the players are a little more mature in their approach to the game.

What is the difference between having a full year as a pro, Instructs, the off-season and having an idea of what to expect as compared to last year after playing in college with an aluminum bat?

: You just get into more of a routine every day. In spring training you wake up early and you get done early. Once you get here, you sleep in more but you get home later.

All of you guys work so hard in the off-season. Many hire personal trainers and you are very tight on your diets and now you are riding busses and eating a lot of fast food. How do you stay in shape and keep from screwing up the physical gains that you made?

Casey McElroy: It's really hard because on the road you might stay on a hotel where the only thing you can walk to is fast food.

It's not like you are living the high life on the road with a per diem of around $25.

Casey McElroy: True but if you are smart you can still have a good meal. It's just important to try not to eat too much fatty stuff.

It must be pretty tough because the game starts at seven and you get done around ten. When do you lift?

Casey McElroy: We try to do it after the game. On the road we will do it in the mornings but here we try to do it afterward so you don't get worn out before the game.

That is pretty tough because you are here for a long time before the game. Its not like you show up at 5:45 and take a little BP and then go play. How tough is it to get the last forty minutes in?

Casey McElroy: Kind of but our trainer Cliff tries to make sure our workouts don't take more than twenty or thirty minutes. But if you have a long game and you are tired its tough but necessary.

What are some of the biggest goals that you are working on coming into this year?

Casey McElroy: Cutting down on my strikeouts even though I'm not doing a great job of that right now. Mainly just to try to stay consistent and not try to get too big with my swing.

But you have to get a little big with your swing or the manager is going to call you a "slap hitter'.

Casey McElroy: [laughs] Well maybe I'll just save the big swings for BP.


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