John Conniff - Last year you had a pretty good year, but the Padres seem pretty stacked with right handed first basemen. Have you made it known that you would be willing to play another position such as catcher or third base? How do you go about not getting the reputation of being a troublemaker while still trying to advance your career?
Greg Sain - Well that is difficult. I've proven myself to be capable of playing at this level offensively. I really don't want to catch, because it wasn't worth it when they had me doing it, just for here and there. Just to say I can do it, I don't think it really got me anywhere.
John Conniff - You had told me in an earlier interview to be a really effective catcher, you have to do it fairly consistently, its hard just to pop in there.
Greg Sain - I wasn't doing it enough to benefit me or the organization, so it was a waste of time. I don't see myself doing it again. [Nick] Tresniak is capable of going somewhere else, guys at the lower levels are prospects, so catching is out. I don't really want any part of it.
John Conniff - Third base should be an option?
Greg Sain - Third base, first base and they have given a lot of chances to guys in the outfield too. Although, I haven't done it professionally, guys who can't play infield play outfield.
John Conniff - The same as in Little League (big smile)
Greg Sain - True, I don't want to be just a first baseman, which I don't think captures all of my abilities. Can I handle that kind of production offensively as a first baseman? I don't know, a first baseman has to flat out mash. You're talking about guys hitting 30 home runs and 100 RBIs a year.
John Conniff - Guys like Jon Knott and Tag Busied have put up some good numbers and haven't really gotten a shot.
Greg Sain - As a third baseman there is a little more leniency, because you have to be able to catch and throw the ball.
John Conniff - To be fair, the last time you played third base for the organization it was in the toughest park in the system, Lake Elsinore. The ball flies on the hard packed grass, which is like cement, compared to Fort Wayne and Mobile. Josh Barfield and J.J. Furmaniak had quite a few errors that year too.
Greg Sain - Exactly. That is one thing I was really disappointed with the Padres. I thought I played a good third base at Fort Wayne and in Eugene. I thought I had some tough errors at Lake Elsinore and felt the team gave up on me as a third baseman. I thought it seemed like a quick trigger, and then they go and sign a guy who made forty errors the previous year in another organization, it was kind of discouraging for me. Instead of saying we are going to correct the error ourselves, they didn't. I know I played a better first base defensively...
John Conniff - You made the least amount of errors of any first baseman in the system.
Greg Sain - That is great, but big deal. You know it's first base, which isn't the most challenging defensive position.
John Conniff - Well everyone is going to have problems with an organization at some point.
Greg Sain - Of course, my problems aren't any different from anyone else's.
John Conniff - How do you keep a positive attitude to go out there and play hard every day, with the injuries and disappointments?
Greg Sain - You just have to have the desire to be a major league player. This is part of it. I'm sure there are guys playing in worse conditions than we are here, I doubt it, the weather in Mobile is ridiculous. You just got to have that dream to want to make it.
John Conniff - Could you go through a typical day that you guys go through. We try to convey on this site how hard it is to be in the minor leagues. For example, last night you guys had a double-header.
Greg Sain - We don't want to say its work, because we love doing it, but it's a job. You have your 10:00 AM weights, half-hour baseball workouts and that is after going to sleep the night before at 2:00 AM, which is the time most guys can get to bed after winding down from the game. After the weights and individual workouts, its practice at 3:00 PM in the ninety degree heat, which feels like ninety five, take your extra swings, ground balls, rovers in town and then you have to think about that game. You have to work so hard not to waste one at bat. Last night, I thought I had four out of five good at bats. Then you start thinking if I keep that up, then for every 100 at bats, I'm wasting 20, and it starts to wear on you.
John Conniff - That sounds like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself.
Greg Sain - It is. I think that is what a lot of people don't realize, especially when you are not feeling good or are sick. Not being able to take the batting practice because of the rain or the travel, its obviously difficult, but its also part of the process.
John Conniff - Last question, before the tape runs out (laughter). What is the biggest difference between a college coach and a professional coach?
Greg Sain - A college coach, there is no concern for the individual its all about the team. Its not about doing things because we want to get someone certain numbers or put them in certain situations. For example in college ball you might have a 2-0 count, and we are moving that guy over no matter what. In the pros you want to move the guy over, but you also want to drive that run in. In pros, there is a lot of things about etiquette, time, practice. That is the big thing in pros, there are just so many games, its all about producing. In college its just much more of a personal relationship with the coach, in the pros its much more of a business.
MadFriars Q & A: Greg Sain: Part Two
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