Padres Prospect Interview: Robert Lara

Fort Wayne, IN: Robert Lara has, admittedly had a tough time adjusting to his role. The catching has not suffered but the hitting has. Staying positive has been the focal point.

Has it been tough to find consistency being in and out of the lineup. Hitting is a timing thing.

Robert Lara: That is how it has felt the whole year. I feel like my first two at-bats are about finding the rhythm and the third and fourth I feel back to normal.

Last year, I was playing everyday. If I got 0-2, it didn't matter. I still felt like I was in it. Now, if I go 0-2, I am in a hole. It took me a while to be comfortable with the role.

You get 0-2 or 2-0 – does it seem like you have to make something happen no matter what the count is because this is the last chance for a while? A walk is no longer good enough.

Robert Lara: Oh yea, exactly. Last year, a walk was great. I don't even have that many walks now because I feel like I have to get a hit. I have to get a hit.

As of late, I feel a lot better. It is tough. It is a lot tougher than I thought.

How good is this pitching staff.

Robert Lara: They are really good. It is pretty impressive when you have a staff where all of them can throw their off-speed in fastball counts. They all have really good changeups – that is the hardest pitch to hit. If you can throw a changeup in a 1-0 or 2-0 count, you are going to do pretty well.

Is the mark of a catcher what his won-loss record is. We talk about the pitcher but often forgotten is the catcher calling the pitches.

Robert Lara: I know. I am not sure what my record is but I am pretty sure it is ok. When a guy goes out there and throws six scoreless innings, not only am I happy for him but I know those six innings I did a good job with him as well.

Last year, you said you weren't necessarily happy with how many guys you threw out. You always felt like you could get a few more. This year, you have thrown out quite a few.

Robert Lara: If the guy on the mound gives you a chance, I feel pretty confident I can get it down there. The staff has done a very good job. I feel that confident that I can get it down there with my eyes closed. As long as he gives me a chance, he is going to be out.

You have pitched two games – and have pitched pretty well.

Robert Lara: I was surprised. I actually pitched a few times at school. I kind of put that in the back of mind in case things don't go right. I was surprised I was able to hit corners and go in and out. I was a little upset with the velocity. I thought I could bring it a little bit better than that. I was around 88 to 90.

I threw a split every once and a while. I don't have a feel for the other stuff – it will go into the stands.

Is pitch selection going to be the ultimate key to your success as a hitter?

Robert Lara: Yes – I tell the guys that swagger will be the most important word. I know if you are pressing – chances are you won't do well. If you are confident – like last year, I would fall behind 0-2 and it wouldn't even matter. I feel like 0-2 I am saying, ‘Don't chase. Don't chase.' And you chase.

It took me a while getting comfortable with playing every two or three days. The whole key is the mental side, staying positive.

I have been a negative guy because I thought if you were negative, only positive things could happen. It is a little different now. Stay positive and do whatever you can when I am in there.

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