Chris Kolkhorst Interview: The Grit Man Cometh

Prior to Monday night's game we had an opportunity to sit down with Wizard's leftfielder Chris Kolkhorst, a.k.a., the "Grit Man" for his last game in a Wizard's uniform. After the game the Wizards announced that Kolkhorst, Matt Thayer and Brett Dowdy were promoted to Lake Elsinore and we followed up to get his take on the promotion.

The Storm will be getting arguably the best leadoff hitter in the organization, a player who not only knows how to get on base as demonstrated by his .392 on-base percentage, but how to advance as evidenced by his 65 runs scored and 19 stolen bases in 100 games. Kolkhorst has also has some pop with 21 doubles and 137 total bases (which led the Wizards), and a .406 slugging percentage for July.

A rather colorful character, Chris in an earlier interview Chris explained that he picked his own nickname, the "Grit Man":

The Story of the Grit Man

John Conniff: Last year only two players in the whole organization had more walks than strikeouts in the organization, you and catcher George Kottaras of Mobile. How do you draw that many walks while still being the aggressive hitter that you are?

Chris Kolkhorst: It's just my approach, each hitter is different. I'm comfortable taking a lot of pitches, if I get two strikes I can still hit. Some guys aren't comfortable hitting with two strikes, I am.

John Conniff: When you say you are comfortable hitting with two strikes, that must mean you are pretty confident that when you swing you are going to make contact.

Chris Kolkhorst: Exactly. I got to be careful of that too, when I do swing, I have to make sure it is a quality swing. If I don't most the time I'm going to put the ball in play its going to be a short little dribbler to the right side or a short pop fly which will be an easy out.

John Conniff: Were you surprised to return back to Fort Wayne after your success last year? Most of us had you penciled in for Lake Elsinore at the beginning of the season.

Chris Kolkhorst: I was surprised. I guess I've learned that you can't count on going someplace. I worked hard in the off-season preparing for wherever I would go. Minor league baseball is minor league baseball as long as you are playing everyday, you are going to get an opportunity.

John Conniff: Do you see yourself more as a center fielder, rather than a corner outfielder because of the type of game that you play?

Chris Kolkhorst: I don't care as long as I am playing, but I'm not going to make the majors as a left fielder unless I'm hitting 30 home runs, and I'm not going to do that. Here it didn't work out because Ramirez is doing a great job defensively, and he's the best center fielder that I've ever played with. I would definitely like to be considered for that spot in the future.

John Conniff: What part of your game do you have to work on the most to advance?

Chris Kolkhorst: Probably, not just one thing but a few things. The first is arm strength and my speed. I'm a little above average. For me to make it in the big leagues as a leadoff hitter, I'm going to have to steal more bases.

John Conniff: How do you improve arm strength?

Chris Kolkhorst: That is a good question, I don't know. I've always heard that long toss is a good way to do it, and I've done that in the off-season. We'll see what happens in the off season.

John Conniff: How did you get to be a left handed hitter?

Chris Kolkhorst: I think when I was about one, when I started swinging a bat. At my parent's house we had a sliding glass door, and the stick that is in it in the back as a type of lock, I started to swing it, and I would always swing it left handed. I would pick up a ball right handed, so it was just a natural thing.

After the game, we caught up with Chris for a quick interview about his promotion to Lake Elsinore.

John Conniff: When did you find out that you were promoted?

Chris Kolkhorst: I found out last night, but I wasn't supposed to say anything until today. Our manager Randy Ready wanted to make sure that I didn't have to pay rent today, so I really appreciate it.

John Conniff: What was the first thing that went through your mind when you were promoted?

Chris Kolkhorst: Well Morton got promoted the other day, and he was my roommate, so the first thing I thought was August 1 is coming and I'm going to have to pay $900 by myself. I went in to talk to Ready before the game yesterday and he told me not to worry about it now that they would get me someone, and we would talk about it after the game.

John Conniff: Obviously you hope you can go through Lake Elsinore this year, and get a shot at making Mobile for 2006?

Chris Kolkhorst: I hope so. I am looking forward to a change in scenery, I didn't expect it at this point in the year, but I want to get up there and see what I can do in High-A.

Have a question about a prospect in the San Diego Padres' system. Send John an email at conniff@sandiegosports.net. Some questions will be forwarded and answered on air during MadFriars.com weekly segment on the flagship station for San Diego Padres' baseball, The Mighty 1090. The show airs each Friday at 10:35 AM PST with Brian Wilson and Ernie Martinez.


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