Antonelli putting the past behind him

PEORIA, AZ-- A new day and a new year arrives each morning for San Diego Padres prospect Matt Antonelli. A renewed focus has led to the consistent approach that had him rising fast within the system. The results have been evident already.

Struggles are inevitable in the game of baseball. Do you feel like you are better served going through that in the minors and can move forward from it?

Matt Antonelli: Well, I think so – especially when you get to the major leagues and start struggling a little bit. There's a lot more attention to what's going on up there than there is in the minors, so it's probably a little easier to work on things and stuff like that down in the minor leagues. You never want to struggle, but I'd definitely rather struggle in the minors before I get up there and kind of get the kinks out and know what's going on and take it from there.

What did you learn about yourself during a tough 2008 season?

Matt Antonelli: I learned a lot of things about my swing. But I felt good the year before for the entire year. I didn't really have a whole lot of bad spouts so I didn't have to do a whole lot. I kind of just went about my business; I mean, I hit and everything, but I realized that if something starts to not feel good, you've got to nip it in the butt quickly and not just keep going and get into a bigger problem.

How nice was it to step away from the game for a little while to come back refreshed?

Matt Antonelli: It was really nice. It was a tough year. I think I had one good month out of the six I played. I struggled a little bit when I went up to San Diego, so it was good to be able to practice some things. It's tough when you have a game every day. It's tough to get the practice time in. Because sometimes, when you get going bad like I did, you need a month to practice! So it was good to get out and get some work in for the four months and then come back fresh.

You still made it up to the major leagues and get your first hit off flamethrower Jonathan Broxton. What did that mean to you?

Matt Antonelli: We played the Dodgers I felt like a thousand times. Obviously I would have liked to have done better, but to get some hits while you're up there will definitely get your confidence up. I'm looking forward to getting this year going and hopefully building on some of the strides I made toward the end of last year.

Did you come out early to work with Jim Lefebvre? What kind of things was he able to get across to you to make you a successful hitter?

Matt Antonelli: Yeah, for two weeks. Everything was offensive – we were just going a lot of different offensive stuff. You know, when I got out here I had actually worked all off-season and a lot of the problems I'd had before, I wasn't really having when I got out here. So, it was more just cleaning up some small stuff. That's really what we did.

You never lost the patience that has marked your career. How was it possible to maintain that when the mechanics weren't there?

Matt Antonelli: I've always been a patient guy. My problem wasn't so much what I was swinging at; it was how I was swinging. I didn't change my approach. I didn't swing at different pitches or anything. I tried to stay the same way I'd always been. It was just some problems with my mechanics swinging-wise – getting to the ball, that was my problem. So I didn't try to change anything mentally. I just really had to work on the swing a little bit.

You grew up around Fenway Park – how did the history of the game and getting to go to games at a great park like that form your love for baseball?

Matt Antonelli: Well, it's cool to be in a place where people care so much about baseball. That's a big sport up there. Growing up a big Red Sox fan and seeing how much people care and always having a good team to watch makes it fun and exciting, and I always had favorite players that I had a chance to copy. So it made it fun growing up as a kid!

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