Mike Baxter: I had a great time in Arizona. It was a pretty good experience playing with other organizations and playing against some top players from around the league. Luckily enough, I was surrounded by pretty intelligent people that helped me out.
You had 24 RBI in 22 games – how were you able to keep that consistent approach despite playing only twice a week.
Mike Baxter: Towards the end I starting playing a little bit more. That was nice. But you know, just getting the work in in the morning. The thing was – I was focusing on certain things out there, so I really had a purpose in practice that I was taking in the morning, in the cages, and during BP. So I think that kind of kept me locked in, because I was actually working on something rather than just taking regular swings.
You halved your strikeout numbers from the previous year. How was such a transformation made possible?
Mike Baxter: It comes from the plan that we have here and the philosophy that we run here – working counts, seeing pitches, trying to identify the pitches you like and handle that. Over time, I've tried to put that to use and I think it's already become a little bit more evident in my peripheral stats.
Seeing better pitches to hit, do you feel like you are on the cusp of a breakout performance?
Mike Baxter: I feel like I am. I'm really happy with the way that last year ended, and that's really all I have to go off of right now. I took the lessons that I learned in the fall into the offseason, and now I'm trying to translate that into a full season. That's what it's going to take.
There had been talk of moving you to catcher. Have you seen any time behind the plate?
Mike Baxter: I've been catching. I caught some instructs games and I've been catching bullpens [throughout Spring Training]. But I'm not sure if it's a full-time role or if it's a utility role, but I'm open-minded to it.
So you would be open to catching if the Padres asked that of you?
Mike Baxter: Oh yeah, that's fine.
What will be the key to a successful 2009 season?
Mike Baxter: Consistency – putting together a solid year, the year I know I could have. The past two or three full seasons that I pieced together for months at a time or half at a time. Start strong, end strong.
Aside from consistency, it's just – the numbers that we're talking about – walks, strikeouts. Just apply the plan that we're working on. That's what they want to see, and I feel like I'm starting to have better command of that.
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