Padres' Prospect Interview: Matt Lauderdale

MOBILE - Last year Matt Lauderdale hit .282 in Fort Wayne, provided solid defense behind the plate, earning a share of David Jay's 2005 Position Player of the Year with Colt Morton. One would think that we would be writing about how Matt is holding up as a regular, but that is not the case when one has the misfortune of playing behind George Kottaras and Colt Morton.

Lauderdale, 25, is in his fourth year in the Padres system as a 9th round selection out of the College of Charleston in the 2003 draft. He has been putting up solid numbers for the BayBears this year in whatever role he happens to be in, either behind the plate or as a late inning pinch hitter.

This year and last year you put up some good numbers, but you have a really tough time getting in because you've played on the same team with George Kottaras and Colt Morton. How are you able to handle that?

Matt Lauderdale: There is really nothing I can do about it being in the situation I'm in, being a backup. Both George and Colt are big name guys and the Padres have a lot of time invested in them, they want them to be the front runners.

Its been tough in the past because in college and high school I was always the number one guy. When Rookie Ball and Eugene came around I had a tough time with not getting to play a lot and I was really bitter about it, but I can't control when I get to play all I can control is what I do when I do get to play

If I go in there put up good numbers and handle the pitching staff well that is not going to go unnoticed.

I really have to go out there and play the best I can, and even if I don't play great and we win I'm still happy about that. Being a backup is a tough job, you have to be ready to go in anytime.

Has there ever been any thought of putting you at another position? Kind of make you into more of a utility player?

Matt Lauderdale: I've been catching for thirteen years, but before I was an infielder. I didn't really play any other positions, a little first base in college. I haven't really asked to do that because I still have work to do behind the plate. If my game comes around the way everything comes around I think I can be a pretty dangerous person behind the plate.

As for as at-bats, here there isn't any DH, but when we play some more American League teams I'm sure I'll get some more at-bats.

I'm not saying its fine with me but..

It seems like you are tying to walk a fine line between trying to be a team guy and trying to do well for yourself.

Matt Lauderdale: Yeah [laughing] its kind of touchy issue, but I do want to get more playing time, everybody does. There is only so much that I can, and still be able to help the team out.

When I'm catching bullpens I won't to be contributing, not pouting about playing time. Get the work done that I can do, and when my chance does come play well. Once Colt and George do move up, I'll be ready to step in.

Like last year in Fort Wayne when Colt moved up to LE, I was ready to go in and play. It was a lot easier for everyone to have me transition into being the starting catcher.

The team also uses you a lot as a pinch hitter, how do you stay sharp during the whole game, especially when you are catching bullpens?

Matt Lauderdale: I try to pay as much attention to the game as I can, because I know later in the game there is a good chance I'm going to be called on. I try to get a feel for whose going to come into the game and what type of pitches they have. Arnie [BayBears hitting coach Arnie Beyler] does a great job of giving us the scouting reports on the pitchers.

As a pinch hitter you have to be ready to go in there and swing.

Its tough though because you only get one at-bat. When you are starting you use that first at-bat to kind of set the tempo for what you are going to do the rest of the game. As a pinch-hitter you have to be ready to go now, a lot of times on the first pitch.

The other night you just missed being the hero of the game with a ninth inning pinch-hit home run.

Matt Lauderdale: Oh yeah, that was a heartbreaker.

As a catcher you're seeing so many pitches during the course of the game does it make it a little easier for you to have a better idea of the strike zone?

Matt Lauderdale: It does help a lot, knowing the umpire's zone, being able to track pitches, even though as a catcher the ball comes in a little further. It helps a lot with the timing, but it really helps knowing what the umpire is going to call.

Although with some of these guys you never know.


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