Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Stocco

Manning the catcher position isn't easy. You are asked to be a strong fielder with hitting playing second fiddle. The facts are you also have to hit to be considered effective. Matt Stocco has the first part down and has been working on the second.

Did you change your approach this past off-season after learning what it was like in your first professional year?

Matt Stocco: It was my second off-season. Last year, I didn't know what to expect or what to do and this year I was a little bit more prepared. I didn't want to be too heavy coming into camp – you get to a certain weight and you don't like how you perform. It is tough in the off-season but mainly I worked with Carlos and a lot Instructional League stuff that I took home and tried to duplicate everyday.

How is the stamina for you – I have to believe catchers breakdown more than anyone else.

Matt Stocco: It is a tough game, especially when you come from short-season. You always want that opportunity to go to full season. There are a lot more games and reps. I would love to play 100 to 120 games.

How difficult is it for you to separate your catching duties, which everyone says are most important, from your hitting duties. We all know you also have to hit to make it.

Matt Stocco: It is tough. Your duties as a catcher outweigh your duties as a hitter by at least 2-to-1 and 3-to-1 sometimes. Carlos keeps us in check and makes sure he preaches to us that that is our position. You have to be good at that before you are good at anything else. As a catcher, we have the option to play sometimes longer than any position player or pitcher. Just the fact that there are not many of us around and not many can do it. The expectations as a catcher is definitely higher than the hitting, but you have to hit if you want to stay. It is definitely off-balance but you have to do a lot more.

Do you take extra hitting practice then?

Matt Stocco: Yes, and you have to pick your days for that. Some days you get worn out catching with bullpens and extra innings so you have to pick your days where you are not hurting yourself. You do have to find time for that because there is not enough time in the day.

Last year you got to work with a lot of the Latin pitchers. Was that difficult for you without knowing how to speak Spanish?

Matt Stocco: It wasn't too difficult. The difficult part was communication. As you go along, you tend to pick up some things – the important words to get by. When you go visit (a Latin player) on the mound – a couple of words so they understand you and you understand them. Communication-wise off the field was a little tougher than on the field. We are all cut from the same mold, most of us anyways. It is a little easier because we all come from the same background and baseball is our priority.

What is a typical mound visit like?

Matt Stocco: I am still young and learning and the younger guys are learning too. We have to learn together. When I go out to them, they might be working too quick or not concentrating on the batter when there is a guy at first. The guys in Elsinore have been around for a couple of years and know what is going on. When you go talk to them it is usually just to give them a breather and a minute to settle down – give a joke or something. It is usually concentration stuff.

Based on that, they have to be able to trust you as much as you trust them. How important is getting to know them quickly at the beginning of the year?

Matt Stocco: There is definitely a respect factor. You have to just as much respect for the pitcher on the mound as they have for you. That is very important. If you two don't get along then something might be off and he doesn't want to listen to you. We have to know them. You give them your input and they give you their and hopefully you can put together one heck of a plan.

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