Q&A: Staten Island's Kyle Larsen

PinstripesPlus caught up with 1B Kyle Larsen of the Staten Island Yankees this week, discussing his selection as a New York-Penn League All-Star, his preference for wooden bats, the Yankees' organizational philosophy and more: (Premium Q&A)

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What did it mean to you to be selected to the New York-Penn League All-Star team?

It means a lot. It's the best of the best in the league, and it's a great honor. When I heard I was really honored and it's a great event for sure. Brooklyn did a great job putting it on.

How did you find out you'd been selected?

I'd heard rumors and stuff, and Stanky (S.I. Yankees manager Andy Stankiewicz) eventually came out and told the team who was on it. It was definitely an honor.

Tell us a little bit about how your season's gone so far?

I think it's gone pretty well. I've been playing pretty consistent, which is good after being up and down in college. I've been seeing the ball well and hitting it pretty good, so I'm hoping I can keep it going to end the season.

What has the adjustment to professional life been like for you?

It's been pretty big, jumping across the country. My college (University of Washington) was 20 minutes from my house, and I had my parents and all my stuff there. Coming to New York from Seattle is a big change, but it's been great. I love using the wood bat; I've always loved using it rather than getting away with more stuff. But it's been good.

So you'd actually prefer to get jammed and not get a hit?

I do, actually. With aluminum, you take advantage of it and my swing gets messed up. You can do things [wrong] and still get base hits, and you don't have to concentrate as hard. Using wood, you learn to become a better hitter.

What's the switch been like, moving coast to coast?

I came here two summers ago and played in the Cape Cod League in Boston, so I kind of got a little taste of it. But this has been a whole different experience, and the press and everything like that … it's been awesome. Back home, University of Washington baseball is not the biggest thing in the world, so coming here it's been great. The exposure, press and media has all been fun.

How about living in New York City?

We're at the field so much that you don't really get much off-the-field stuff, but it's been fine. We live in Staten Island and you just hang out, go to the field … the same routine every day. But it's fine.

We've seen young players like Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera get chances in the Bronx this year. As a Yankees prospect, how does that make you feel, perhaps seeing a shift in the attitude at the top?

It's good to see. You think of the Yankees and you don't see them call a lot of guys up. They usually trade for the good guys – they're the Evil Empire and all that. It's great to see this year that new guys like Melky got a chance to play, because it lifts your spirits to see young guys get in there. I'd love to play professional baseball in New York. It'd be awesome to play in Yankee Stadium.

Did you think about that when you considered signing with the Yankees – the whole 'Evil Empire' deal?

Being undrafted, I just wanted a chance to play. Fortunately, I got to play for one of the greatest sports organizations in the world. It's been great. They treat us awesome and it's been a great experience.

What about Stankiewicz as a manager? What's he like?

Awesome. He's probably one of the best coaches I've ever had. He's laid-back and lets us do our thing. He's not hard-nosed and in your face – if you go out and play the game the way it's supposed to be played, he doesn't have any problems. It's been awesome and he's really helped us out.

But you guys are young kids; some people would say you need to be drilled and instructed on certain things. How does a laid-back managerial style let you work?

I think some guys are like that and some guys are not. There's been a change, the way the game's going. It used to be all hard-nosed guys coaching, but I think kids respond better to being loose, going out and having fun. Stanky's definitely like that. If you go out and do your thing and prove yourself, he's not going to mess with you. It's been great for our team; we've been pretty successful with it.

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