Padres Prospect Interview: Lance Zawadzki

San Diego Padres prospect Lance Zawadzki began to put the pieces together in 2008, showing skills on the base paths and at the plate. Struggles early on propelled him a stronger finish.

It appeared to be two different halves of baseball for you. Can you talk about that 2008 season.

Lance Zawadzki: The first half – it wasn't so much the cold weather as it was me trying to do too much. I think I was pushing to get off to a good start and grinding on every pitch instead of just letting things happen and using the ability and talents I have.

I guess that is part of going through your first full season. You learn more about yourself than anything else. I learned I am able to play better when I am not grinding out each pitch but can succeed when I am relaxed and using the ability I have been blessed with.

Did that lead to mechanical changes as a result of not doing well and all these different attempts to breakthrough?

Lance Zawadzki: I think it was a little bit of everything. At the beginning of the year, I started out well. Then I got into a slump and ended up trying so hard that I got big with my swing and was loading too much. It ended up turning into mechanical things because of how I was pressing.

I put in a lot of time with Tom Tornicasa, our hitting coach, and we were able to get through that. Changing small things helped me relax more and actually led to me really starting to find out about myself as a hitter.

How does that kind of stuff mentally wear on you when you are used to a certain way and are now changes things along the way.

Lance Zawadzki: I think it was such a relief because I was struggling so much that I was willing to listen to anything at that point. I had never struggled in my whole life like I had then. It was great that I could get through it early and finish strong. At that point, I was all ears. It was nice to be able to finally start feeling good and seeing things fall into place.

Talk about your work defensively. You played shortstop and second base this year. At times, it seemed that you have always wanted to throw balls at 130 mph.

Lance Zawadzki: That is something we are working on – using my legs more to take the pressure off my arm where I don't have to rely so much on my arm. It is nice to show it off, but in reality, when you are playing that many games, those errors are going to start disappearing when you simply get the ball and get rid of it.

That is another part of the learning curve just like I went through offensively this year. I started to pick up on it and worked with (fielding coordinator Gary Jones) Jonesy during instructs.

What was it like playing second base? Was it more footwork than arm over there?

Lance Zawadzki: There is definitely a difference. It wasn't a hard different but just different playing on that side of the field. Either side of the bag, I felt comfortable. It is a matter of staying consistent with using my legs and not using so much of the arm.

One of the things that you were very successful at was running bases. Doug Dascenzo used to aid all the base runners in the system before becoming manager. Was it certain little things?

Lance Zawadzki: It was a matter of my legs getting healthy, first of all. At the beginning of the year, I started out slow and couldn't get my legs underneath me. They were tight; some of that could have been from the cold weather.

I talked to Dougie a lot one-on-one because he was a base stealer. To end up with 30 was good because we weren't stealing every time we were on.

Dougie really stressed situations. We went over situation after situation – when I should go and when I shouldn't. It was a great learning experience. Having base stealing as a part of my game, it was great to have a manager who was a base stealer too. That is something we really did talk about a lot.

It also seemed like everything clicked with your teammates too.

We had a great base running team. We also had a fast team and sometimes that doesn't translate over to base running. We had guys who had an idea – we were able to all talk. All of these guys know baseball and we worked together on that.

It doesn't go just when you are on base. Guys are watching from the dugout. That is something Dougie preached as well. He is a very player oriented coach.

Besides the speed aspect, you also led the team in extra base hits. It was the kind of year where you put the package together.

Lance Zawadzki: It is a matter, for me, of relaxing and not trying to do too much. As I continue to learn, there will be things I learn about myself and things I can incorporate. It was a great year and a great learning experience baseball wise.

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