Gary Jones: No. Drew has played centerfield but has also seen time at the corner outfield positions before. He has probably played more centerfield but guys have to find a way to get used to playing those different positions, especially a guy like Drew who has a chance to play at the major league level. Who is to say that once he gets there he is not going to have to play a corner position. If that is affecting his bat than he won't be at the big league level. I don't think that affected him at all. I think it was a learning curve for him. That is a big jump going to that level from A-Ball. You see guys who make that jump have a few struggles every year.
Colt Morton had some struggles in Lake Elsinore but was really rejuvenated when he was moved up to Double-A.
Gary Jones: Colt did a nice job for us. He got there and handled the staff very well and came up with some big hits for us. He worked his tail off trying to get better with his swing, shortening his swing up. He worked on using the middle of the field and making contact. His biggest thing is when he makes contact with the shorter stroke he has a chance to do a lot of damage. He worked on it consistently on a daily basis and got better.
It seemed Vince Sinisi finally started to get over the hump and become the hitter many thought he could be. Of course the arm injury slowed that but this year had to have been looked at as a positive.
Gary Jones: He got off slow as far as the power numbers but during the last month he started to drive some balls and hit a few more doubles. He had a stretch there where he hit a few homers also. Sinisi is a hitter. Right now he is a line drive, gap type hitter but he has a chance in the future to hit a few home runs. A guy who can play first base and left field and can be a good bat off the bench.
We talked about Michael Johnson briefly but expanding on that he gets another freak injury again this season and more lost games. You mentioned Luis Cruz and a lost developmental year for him and it has to be the same for Michael.
Gary Jones: Yea, you can look at it from that standpoint that he just wasn't on the field enough this year to do the things from a developmental standpoint that the organization would like. But he showed signs. At the end he played through some pain after taking the ground ball of his face and the hamstring early. It is one of those things that I don't think anyone can explain. It is just one of those things that seems every year something happens to keep him from staying on the field.
Unfortunately, Mobile ended up in the bottom of the league in hitting. Is part of that do to the heat during the summer months out there and just the wear and tear over the season?
Gary Jones: You know it is easy to make excuses. No, I don't think it affects the way guys go about their business because when you get into the big leagues and play for some of these clubs like Texas or Florida it is hot there too. It is part of it. It was just one of those years where guys didn't do as well as we thought they were going to do. There were other guys who stepped up and had pretty good years. It is kind of a catch-22. Position player wise we were young. Most of the guys made the jump from Lake Elsinore to Mobile and anytime you have that it is an adjustment period for those guys.
I think it is a credit to you and your staff that you held this team together. The first half wasn't the greatest but you guys battled all year and had a chance towards the end.
Gary Jones: The credit goes to the guys. They kept battling and fighting. Got off to the tough start but after the first month and a half we ended up playing .500 baseball. Going into the last well of the season – with five games left we were three games out. It didn't happen for us and we knew it was a longshot but still the guys put themselves in a position to be successful. If not for a hot Montgomery team we may have been able to get in.
For you as the manager, what do you view success as over the course of the season?
Gary Jones: I just try and go out and work everyday and hopefully the guys can improve, get better. How do the guys improve as the year goes on? I look at guys like Macias who got better as the year went along. I see a guy like Sinisi who towards the end swung the bat much better. Mike Ekstrom ended up finishing the year strong. Colt Morton came up and did a nice job. Ciriaco, even though the numbers don't show it, got better and the experience when it was all said and done he was a better ballplayer for it. Bonvechio, who had knee problems, ended up swinging the bat well.
You want to win but winning is not the most important thing. As we know, it is to develop winning players to help the major league level. That is what we try to do. When I see guys move up to Triple-A or move up to the big leagues and contribute at those levels that is the satisfying part for me.
Gary Jones: That is part of it. When it happens it gives other guys a chance to step in and perform. That is the way you have to look at it at this level. Help the major league squad win a Championship.
When you see the reports of Jared Wells, who dominated in Double-A, struggle some in Triple-A can you or Coach Abbott help in any way?
Gary Jones: Again, it is a learning curve. Just like when a guy goes from Single-A to Double-A there is a learning curve. The thing he gets away with in Double-A he is not going to get away with in Triple-A. The same thing is true for a guy who goes from Triple-A to the majors. He has success and makes mistakes that hitters miss in Triple-A they aren't going to miss in the big leagues. I think that is the type of situation players find themselves in when they move up a level.