John Conniff: It seems guys in the Padres systems batting averages always jump when being called up to Portland from Mobile, which is counter intuitive since its going from Double-A to Triple-A, a supposedly tougher league. Why is that?
Paul McAnulty: Everything about the game is better at the Triple-A level, whether it's the pitching, the facilities, the umpiring and also the hitters. The pitchers here are a lot more around the plate, and for me hitting with Knott, Johnson and Barfield really gives me a lot of protection, which means I get a lot better pitches to hit than in Mobile.
The pitchers here are not afraid to come right after you, so they are around the plate a whole lot more, they don't pitch around you. The strike zone is also a little tighter than it is in Double-A, and the parks are a lot easier to hit in than in Doubl-A, they are ten times better.
You have batter's eyes, better lights..
John Conniff: I remember you talking about that in Mobile.
Paul McAnulty: Yeah, you don't have a hitter's eye in most of the parks in the Southern League. There are lot of things that go into why the averages go up from Double-A.
John Conniff: When you are called up to the major leagues, you mainly pinch hit, which is an unusual role for someone just coming up to the major leagues.
Bruce Bochy remarked about how comfortable you seemed in that role. How did you prepare for it?
Paul McAnulty: I just like to hit. I try to go up and get good at bats, and I feel comfortable at the plate. It doesn't matter to me who is on the mound, they still have to put the ball around the dish. You have to have that confidence to be in the major leagues, and especially to do one of the toughest jobs which is to pinch hit.
John Conniff: How tough is it to sit around for six or seven innings and then the manager says, 'Grab a bat, you're up'?
Paul McAnulty: It is difficult, but you have to be focused on the whole game, the situations that might come up. Knowing what possibilities can arise, if the pitcher's spot is coming up, the score, everything.
You have to think I might be going in here the next inning or three innings from now, so I got to get loose.
You just don't sit around there. Mark Sweeney, one of the best pinch hitters in the game, helped me out a lot by letting me know around the third or fourth inning, start getting ready. He really helped me out on my preparation for that role.
So I took that approach, I tried to apply it. I think I had a lot of good at bats, but the stats weren't there. It's just all about being ready, you know you're going to come up against relief pitchers throwing gas, you are going to get that first pitch fastball.
John Conniff: What is the toughest thing about being in the major leagues?
Paul McAnulty: Learning how to pinch hit. I've never done it before until I got called up, and it was a learning experience. I took it as a confidence boost, knowing that at my age they had the confidence in me to think I could do it.
John Conniff: When we talked to you in Mobile, you described how you were working to improve your defense. You would go out early in batting practice and work on your jumps on the ball to improve your reads, quickness and anticipation. How did you work to improve that in the major leagues?
Paul McAnulty: I go out there in batting practice and play the outfield with Dave Roberts and Jilly [Brian Giles] and I knew I wasn't playing, and I tried to act like it was a game. I tried to read the angles on the balls that were hit, how they came off of the walls, so that I was ready to go in and do my job if I was called on.
John Conniff: With Robert Fick and Mark Sweeney both on the Padres major league roster, who are both left handed hitters, how do you see you chances about sticking with the Padres in 2006?
Paul McAnulty: You never know what is going to happen. This year has been great for me, if I make the Padres in 2006, that is great. If I come back to Portland, I'll work on some more things, but I'll be back in the major leagues.