Padres Interview: Hangin' with P-Mac

Washington, D.C.-- Paul McAnulty is not the biggest guy in the world nor is he likely to be featured in a photo spread for Muscle and Fitness any time soon, but he has shown he can do one thing very well. He can hit.

In five minor league seasons with the Padres, McAnulty has hit at every stop the Padres have put him in with his career numbers of .305/.398/.493, including last season with the Beavers where his line was .310/.388/.521.

The question with McAnulty has always been where he could play in the field?

In the lower minors he mainly played first base, but was primarily a corner outfield in the past three years. In the midst of the Padres search for a third baseman he even played a little third in Portland; but the team now believes his best position is in left field with some possible spot starts in right.

In spring P-Mac hit .353 and was among the team leaders in RBIs, but an injury to his knee set him back, and although he made the big club, he could never seem to break in between Terrmel Sledge and Jose Cruz in the outfield rotation before being sent down to Portland in mid-April.

With Brian Giles going on the DL, P-Mac is back up with the big club. If given consistent playing time, McAnulty has the ability to hit in the major leagues and he's a better defensive player than many give him credit for.

The big question is when will that opportunity open up?

It's been a roller coaster ride for you this year. You were having a good spring until you got hurt and then got inconsistent at bats with the big club. You struggled a little when you first went down to Portland but seemed to pick it up in May.

Paul McAnulty: You know it's just part of the deal. I got hurt in spring training, and when I got sent back to Portland I hadn't really played in a month, so it took awhile for me to get my timing back.

Yeah, you were hitting .246 in April but .303 in May.

Paul McAnulty: In April, it wasn't as bad as it looked on paper. I was hitting a lot of balls hard and that is really all you can do, but there were still another 400 at-bats left in the season so I wasn't too worried about it.

The players on Portland this year are not the most talented offensive group that you have played with, especially when compared to Portland's 2005 team. Not to make excuses, but when you're around better players your offensive performance tends to go up because you see more pitches. This year in one game you were walked 4 times.

Paul McAnulty: Yeah, but there is no excuses. Sometimes it does help to have someone hitting in front of you or behind you, but it's on me to perform. The guys down there are picking it up and that is just the way the chips fell before everyone started to hit better.

How much of an adjustment is it for you to go from knowing that you will be in the lineup everyday in Portland as compared to a spot start and maybe a pinch hitting role in the 7th or 8th inning up here?

Paul McAnulty: It's tough, but that is also part of the deal, but I'm going to wait around until they give me a chance. The other night in Pittsburgh, I had my first start since 2005 and then I actually got back-to-back starts. I thought I did ok, caught the ball, had some good contact, but chased some balls that I shouldn't have. They know that I can hit but I have to wait for them to give me an opportunity. I just want the chance to show what I can do, but also to prove to them that I can play in the field. Because I think the big question on me is defense.

Throughout your career, you seem to have always caught some flak for your defense but you can play four positions so you must be able to play some. Seeing how many different positions you play in the minors we are even half expecting to see you in center field if you go back to Portland [laughs].

Paul McAnulty: [laughs] Well I don't know about that. I just need someone to give me a chance. I just want to have an opportunity to prove that I can play out there. The big question about me has always been my defense and I've worked real hard, and I think I'm pretty good out there.

Everyone is going to have their critics and supporters and I'm going out there to prove the critics wrong.

A few questions on some of the guys that you played with this year in Portland. How would you describe what type of player Jack Cust is?

Paul McAnulty: I like Jack. He's a good player and he can hit. I've watched him bang for a few years in Triple-A, and he can flat out hit. He's not that bad out there in the field he just needed a chance. He's getting one in Oakland right now, and I'll hit in front of him anytime.

Another player who is having a good year is Vince Sinisi?

Paul McAnulty: He can hit and play, I like the kid. I got the opportunity to watch him play for a little bit, and he knows what he's doing at the plate and that is tough to find.

Since you've been moving around so much the past few years is there any position you would prefer playing more than another or is it like you always say ‘anywhere 1-9'?

Paul McAnulty: Anywhere 1-9 as long as I'm getting my at-bats, hell, I'll even pitch.

Well, maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea.. [laughs]

We caught up with Paul after the Saturday night's game in Washington where he hit his first home run of the season and had three RBIs.

What was the pitch you hit for a home run?

Paul McAnulty: I think it was a slider, but really it was just in my zone and I tried to put a swing on it.

You know I always end up asking you what pitch you hit, what you're looking for and in the end its always, ‘hey, I just hit it'.

Paul McAnulty: I know, but you know really I'm just trying to keep it as simple as possible. When I go up there with too many things running through my mind is when I screw up.

You know you have the "aw shucks" routine, but you've consistently posted some pretty OBP numbers throughout your career, so you must have a good idea of what you're doing up there.

Paul McAnulty: I really try to stay humble at this game because if you don't it will break you. They only thing I can really guarantee is that I'm going out there playing as hard as I can every day. You know they see this body [laughs] and they don't think I can play…so every day I got to prove myself.

You looked pretty comfortable in the outfield this past series, especially in right field, where you played a lot in the minors.

Paul McAnulty: I can play out there. I take a lot of pride in how hard I work on my defense. You know and the critics who write that I can't play out there they can keep on doing it, you know I hope they keep writing about it for the next fifteen years.

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