Will Venable: I was in Arizona working hard the whole off-season with Dan, our minor league strength coordinator, and a couple of other guys and he had us on a program doing some conditioning. I weigh the same but carry it a little better now.
Were you also working out with Jim Lefebvre in January and what were you doing out there with Jim?
Will Venable: My whole deal has been my power. More than that – the root of it – has been being too fine with my swing and not really being comfortable. I spent all of Double-A trying to find it and never really found it.
We wanted to get me a good base and work from the ground up to be in an athletic position to let it loose and strike the ball. I think we found it with a lot of hard work but we figured it out.
You have always had a pretty swing too. Are you afraid of that aggression taking away from your annually high average?
Will Venable: Yea – I think that is something that will happen when you let it loose a little bit more. That is something the organization discussed with me that that might be a possibility and that is all right. They will take the power numbers for a lower average.
It is something you grow with and hopefully the average doesn't drop too much.
How do you battle that internally because it can be frustrated when you don't see the immediate results.
Will Venable: I just think of spring – I had a good average, but there were at-bats where I was letting it loose where before instead of a swing-and-miss or bloop something somewhere, I gave up a good aggressive swing but I might have gotten a hit. Hitting those doubles and hitting those home runs keeps it in mind that it will be all right.
You went back to last year and talked about not finding your swing all year. But, you still had a good average after skipping a level. Does that give you an end of the rainbow feeling?
Will Venable: It was nice because in my eyes it was pretty mediocre. But, for feeling so uncomfortable the entire year, I was pretty happy with my year and some of that is my natural ability and making adjustments through the year when I needed to get by. It was nice to know that I have that in there. All things considered, I was happy with the year.
You went back to big league camp for the second time in as many years. What do you take away from the second time through? Did you go in with a different plan this year?
Will Venable: Yes. I knew what to expect instead of walking into it and trying to figure where I fit in. After going through that, even though I didn't kill, I was like, ‘This is the big leagues and I know I can play here.' Knowing that, it was more of ‘I belong here. Let's see what we can do to stand out.' I played hard and was comfortable, stayed patient and let the game come to me. I thought it was a successful spring.
Did you take any lessons away that might have been different from the first year?
Will Venable: It lets you know where the game is at the highest level. Even though I saw it last year, I am better now and to step into that arena as an improved player is a lot different. To compete more and confident about it – that is what I took out of it.
What was the China experience like?
Will Venable: We had places to be and couldn't do a lot of sightseeing. We saw the Great Wall which was great but it was kind of business as usual. We did not get to enjoy or immerse ourselves in the culture as much as we would have liked.
Did it mess with your timing in how you prepare for the season with long plane rides and losing out on valuable hitting time to get ready for the year?
Will Venable: It messed me up and I tweaked my calf there so I had some extra time off. It is one of those things you have to deal with. You have to remember that all the hard work you did is not gone. It might take a couple of days to come. But we worked so hard – I don't think we lost anything.
When you look ahead to the rest of the 2008 season, what will make for a successful year for Will Venable?
Will Venable: Just to stay healthy and keep working hard. If I know in my heart that I took advantage of any situation or opportunity that comes my way and I was ready for it than that is a successful season.
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