Adam Zornes: Yes, it is a different feeling when you are somewhere for four years and they become your second family. You get taken out and put into a new environment – there is an adjustment period. You meet new people, new coaches, a whole new system. I got my feet wet in professional ball and got to meet the guys in rookie ball and went up to Fort Wayne and got to meet the guys in their first pro season. I met a lot of the coaches and got a feel for what everyone is expecting. Once that was out of the way, it made things a whole lot easier.
While you weren't out in Arizona long, one of the coaches mentioned that he was impressed with how you worked from behind the plate defensively. When you hear that, what does it make you feel?
Adam Zornes: As a catcher and coming from Rice, defense always came first. Hitting was always a bonus. And that is how most major league teams look at catchers. To hear that makes me feel good. I take a lot of pride in my catching. I hate passed balls. If it is something I can control and fail, I take responsibility for it. I will be my hardest critic.
How difficult is it to work with all of these young pitchers – many who you are seeing for the first time – and get them on the same page with you and what you are trying to collectively accomplish?
Adam Zornes: It is difficult. Coming out of Rice and the talent we had with the pitching – the guys out here have a lot of talent; they wouldn't be here if they didn't. Pitchers are different. Some guys need to get jumped a bit. Other guys need to be patted on the behind and slowed down a bit. You need to get to know your pitcher. You figure it out as you go along to get that pitcher in the zone – stuff that works for him. There is a lot of talent.
Tom Tornicasa mentioned that there were a few small things he wanted to see you clean up at the plate. What was he talking about?
Adam Zornes: I think coming out of Rice my hands were a little bit different and it was creating a loop in my swing. Now, we have my bat a little bit more up and my hands back, which creates an easier path to the ball. I worked on that in the Instructional League and it is starting to feel like second nature. It is feeling comfortable. Do it over and over and make it a habit.
While it was a limited sample, you hit extremely well with runners in scoring position. Is there a different mentality you have with runners on base?
Adam Zornes: They teach patiently aggressive here but when there are ducks on the pond, you really have to be aggressive. You get that one pitch and you can't miss that opportunity. You might only get that one pitch in that at-bat. It could be tough to get a good pitch to handle after that. You are looking for one pitch to drive and have to be aggressive and hopefully not miss it.
How thin is that line between patience and aggressiveness?
Adam Zornes: It is a very thin line. You can be overaggressive and be too passive. That is a constant development for any hitter. They are teaching us that here and there are guys in the big league still working on it. It is a fine line. It takes practice and hopefully you can figure it out.
You hit 12 homers your final year at Rice. Is power something that will become a bigger part of your game in the future?
Adam Zornes: I hope so. I know I have the potential for power. I have one homer in pro ball – it was nice to get off the schnide. That is stuff you can't control. You have to go into the box with a simple gameplan and take a good swing. You can't worry about the power numbers. They will come by themselves.
As a catcher, you are always studying the opposition. How much time do you spend researching the hitters that you and your pitcher will face?
Adam Zornes: Coming into Fort Wayne and being thrown into the fire and meeting a whole bunch of guys that you don't know – as a catcher it is your responsibility to know the opposition and communicate with the pitching coach and any coach. I usually good a pretty good job on getting information on the hitters – anything that will help me and the pitcher.
Early on, I was relying on the pitchers who had seen these guys. As time goes on, you take mental notes and sometimes write something down. That is a huge part of the game, scouting the other team and finding out what the weaknesses are.
Does the same tactic apply to you studying the opposing pitcher and collecting as much information as you can to enhance your potential for success?
Adam Zornes: Everybody says we should be the best hitters. For a catcher, there is always so many things on your mind. You have to worry about your defense, throwing runners out, controlling the game, knowing what plays are going on, and hitting. It is a lot to handle sometimes.
I think we have a little advantage at the plate because you can run through different scenarios in your head based on the count. Again, you try and keep it simple and not try and overanalyze it where you think of so many things and can't even hit.
Does knowing the umpire and his strike zone help you or is that another potential block?
Adam Zornes: It depends. I always try and go out there and introduce myself to develop a relationship, ‘where was that pitch?' we can get on the same page and the game will go easier. Umpires aren't perfect but I ask they be consistent in the zone. Getting a feel for that is a big part. Getting it early on can really help later in the game when you need one specific pitch in a certain spot.
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