ST Interview: Travis Jankowski

2014 was a lost year for Travis Jankowski as a pair of wrist injuries cost him most of the season and sapped him of his power when he was on the field. But the speedy center fielder has the top-of-the-order skill set and defensive chops to reestablish himself in 2015. We talked about how the injury shaped his off-season, and what he'll be looking to do assuming he can stay on the field this year.

MadFriars: Most importantly after last year, how are you feeling and how’s your health?

Travis Jankowski: I’m feeling really well. Coming off that injury last year, my main concern this offseason was getting strength back and being 100 percent coming into spring. And I’m there, so I feel really good.

Based on the injury, was there anything you did differently this offseason in terms of training?

Travis Jankowski: When I came back to San Antonio [last year], I had another wrist injury. I think maybe I came back a little early and just wasn’t ready and kind of pushed the envelope a little bit. But this offseason, I just tried to do a lot of forearm and wrist exercises because I lost a lot of strength in my left arm from the injuries. So, a lot of upper body and lower body [work] to try and create more power and explosion for running. I was out here at the complex November 1, hitting with Alonzo Powell three times a week. Then, come December, we bumped it up to four times a week and then, after the new year, it was full go, five times a week.

Getting time with the coaching staff from the big league side can’t be a bad thing. Were there any particular things you heard from him that you’re trying to bring out here to your game this spring?

Travis Jankowski: A lot of it is just building the game around speed, knowing my game is around that. Just going out and putting the barrel on the ball. By eliminating strikeouts and putting pressure on the defense on the base paths. I’m not worried about stolen bases so much as percentage-wise, knowing when to run and getting to an 85-90 percent success rate. That’s the main thing we were working on. Obviously, on defense, tracking the ball down in the gap and getting good reads.

Do you have the injuries in the back of your head at all when you have to make a dive?

Travis Jankowski: No, not really. I pretty much eliminated it. We did a lot of wall drills in minicamp and that pretty much did it. I feel back at 100 percent. I don’t know if I’ll go into a wall again, but maybe if that comes up, we’ll take it in stride.
NOTE: In the last game of spring training, Jankowski did indeed go into the wall again, and while it jarred him enough he had to leave the game, it hasn’t been an issue through the regular season.]

Having lost a lot of time on the field last year, how did you still try to use that time for development?

Travis Jankowski: You can learn a lot just sitting and watching a game from the dugout. It’s insane. That’s the first time I really realized it, as far as you can get a read on pitchers and write that down in a little book because you’re going to face them later on in life. That, and you can help hitters out too. If a hitter’s not looking right at the plate, analyze his swing from the bench and try to see what he’s doing wrong.

Watching the way Spangenberg went through the year he had in 2013 and then surge all the way up to the big leagues, it’s got to be nice to see someone have that sort of path that could be yours?

Travis Jankowski: Definitely, yeah. He had a pretty bad concussion, but he didn’t let him affect him, he just did his thing and worked hard, and was up in the Show by September. It’s a little inspiring and gives you something to like about it.

What are the three things you’re trying to do at the plate this coming year to take that next step?

Travis Jankowski: Number one is be on time. Number two, be consistent with the swing path. And shoot, put the ball in play and let everything take over.

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