Lance Zawadzki working out the kinks

Hamstrung to begin his professional career, Lance Zawadzki was frustrated. The expectations were high, and the only comfort for the shortstop was a strong finish. He ended up in the Instructional League where he focused on improving his defense and getting sound mechanically with his swing.

Talk a little about the season, getting injured, the expectations and did you meet them?

Lance Zawadzki: I had pretty high expectations coming in and going down with the injury at the end of the minicamp was a setback and frustrating. I was happy. I played 10 games in Arizona with the rehab and went to Eugene where I started off slow – I think I tried to do too much too quick.

I was happy with how I finished. I hit a lot of balls hard that didn't drop. There is nothing you can do about that. That is baseball. Overall, I was happy and got my health back to where it has to be. I considered it a success for my first professional season.

You went out to Instructs and seemed to have a heavy focus on improving your defense. Is that something that was your primary focus?

Lance Zawadzki: I think that was something I wanted to focus on to clean everything up. I had a rough start defensively at Eugene – a lot of that was due to my limitations with my quad. That was my main focus and was happy to work with infield rover Gary Jones and he did a lot with me – it was successful.

Is there something specific you can point to that will make your life defensively a little easier?

Lance Zawadzki: He pointed out the one thing he wanted me to work on was when I field the ball I stand straight up and a lot of my errors were throwing. It kind of made sense all at once. As soon as I started staying low when I caught it the ball stays on a smoother flight to first. That hit me as a shock at first. I guess that is why he is the coach.

You spent some time at third base as well. Is that something that could be in your future?

Lance Zawadzki: I don't know. They just want all the infielders to learn all the positions. I am working at everything but mostly at shortstop.

Is there something you want to work on or something someone has seen at the plate that should be adjusted?

Lance Zawadzki: Tony Muser, the new hitting coach who was the manager in Arizona, knew exactly what he wanted me to work on. They were small things that have more to do with consistency – staying through the zone a little longer, hitting the inside of the ball. Small things like that that over the course of a season and 450 at bats are going to help you out a little more rather than me being a swinger.

One of the key terms I kept hearing out in Instructs was "backspin". How do you create backspin?

Lance Zawadzki: You have to hit the inner half – the top inner half of the ball and staying through the ball longer. If you are going to cut it you are going to get topspin and if you roll over you get topspin as well. That is the main thing.

When you create backspin the ball will carry into the gaps or over the wall. That is a focus. In order to hit that it takes a lot of concentration at the plate and you have to see where you are hitting the ball. That keeps all the hitters focused on what they are doing.

With all this information being presented to you – does it make it harder where you think too much at the plate and hurt yourself?

Lance Zawadzki: You can if you don't do it right. When you are thinking about that stuff in the cages it is more mechanical stuff. When you get onto the field the only thing you want to concentrate on is hitting that top inner half. Concentrate on that. All the work you do in the cage and all the repetition – that becomes habit. Then, all you have to do is worry about on the field and hitting the ball on the inner half.

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