MadFriars' Interview: Jason Hagerty

SAN ANTONIO: Jason Hagerty was taken in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by San Diego out of the University of Miami where he was a teammate of current Padres Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal.

Hagerty, 25, a switch-hitting catcher also saw time at first with the Hurricanes but since he's been in the organization has been used primarily as a catcher.

He has put together two very good seasons as a professional in 2010 with Fort Wayne hitting .302/.423/.494 with an especially big second half where he posted a 1.064 OPS, and in 2011 with Lake Elsinore.

With the Storm he got of to a blistering start hitting .311/.386/.518 before slowing down in the second half with San Antonio.

This year he has been slowed down by some nagging injuries but has been hitting well again lately.

I know you have had a bad lower back which must kill you as a catcher. Can you talk about how you have been dealing with that this season?

Jason Hagerty: I've had it the entire season and it was just getting worse and worse. I went on the DL and had some doctors look at it. They ended up giving me some medicine and shots so it feels better now but its going to be something I'm going to have to deal with for the whole year. [Editor's note - After our interview in early June Jason went back on the disabled list before coming back off of it on July 7]

I'm always amazed about how much work minor league catchers do before the game. All of the bullpens, then most of the times you have individual drills, BP, weights and then you have to catch nine innings - which is usually in the heat.

The life of a minor league catcher is brutal.

How do you do it?

Jason Hagerty: It is a lot of work but its also what I signed up for. I like it because it helps me to develop a relationship with the pitchers. You are helping them out and really both of you are trying to help each other's careers.

Its just part of the game and learn how to rest your body so you have enough energy for all nine innings.

If you are catching bullpens then you have an idea of how much someone's ball sinks or moves correct?

Jason Hagerty: Definitely, which is the big advantage of catching your guys in the pen. You know what their tendencies are coming into and out of their starts. That helps you get on the same page and learn to know what adjustments they need to make to get themselves back on track during the game.

How much time do you spend before the games going over the lineups with the pitching coach on the opposition before the games?

Jason Hagerty: We don't get as much information as they do in the big leagues but we go with what we have. Here we mainly go with the pitcher's strength and if they are on, it usually works out.

You were here for half a year last and you played against many of the same players in the Cal League so you have some idea.

Jason Hagerty: Oh yeah. For most of the guys we have some idea of what we want to do.

Where do you find time to switch-hit? How do you maintain two different swings or is that just something that you have always done?

Jason Hagerty: I started to switch-hit as a sophomore in high school and it does take some work. I try to keep it as simple as I can because when I start to over analyze it is when I start to have problems.

Tourny, our hitting coach, really helps me out quite a bit. He knows that I have a lot on my plate with two swings and catching so he tries to keep it as simple as possible. I've had him for two and a half years as my coach and he's really helped me out a lot.

Are you one of those guys that is the same on both sides or are their differences between your left and right sides?

Jason Hagerty: It may or may not be the same to other people but to me it is. I try to do the same preparation for both swings.

In Fort Wayne you had a huge second half in 2010. Last year you had a really good first half in Lake Elsinore before being promoted to San Antonio.

You didn't finish the year like you hoped too last year did you just wear down or was their that much of a jump in the competition?

Jason Hagerty: In Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore I was really locked in. When I got to San Antonio I was a little tired and there is no doubt that the competition picked up quite a bit here.

I have had to make adjustments and I'm learning every day. Its all you can ask for to test yourself against better competition and meet the challenge.

Tourny talks about as a hitter that you can only cover twelve inches of an eighteen inch plate. In essence you can cover two-thirds of the plate but not all of it. Is that one of the adjustments that you had to make?

Jason Hagerty: Early in the count you definitely have to be looking for the ball in a certain part or you are going to chase a lot of pitches.

Do you make changes to where you are looking for from at-bat to at-bat?

Jason Hagerty: I usually try to stay in the same spot but if I notice that the pitcher is on to it I will change it up. For the most part I have to same approach for each at bat because that keeps my swing on the same plane. With two strikes I will expand my zone a little more.

There was a great quote by Matt Wieters of the Orioles who said they he started to hit better when he stopped thinking like a catcher. Do you find that happening to you too?

Jason Hagerty: I definitely catch myself doing that and its nothing but trouble for me. Some people can do it. I can't.

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