Speed Kills

In baseball, skills such as batting technique, throwing mechanics, and defensive positioning can be taught, but one attribute that cannot be taught is pure speed. Pure speed is exactly what Trenton centerfielder Justin Christian has and he brings it consistently.

Christian, who was undrafted out of college, spent his first full season in affiliated baseball splitting time between Charleston and Tampa in 2005. Christian excelled swiping 55 bases, which led the organization. So far this year he is up to his old tricks, stealing 22 bags in 24 attempts including an amazing steal of home from second base on a wild pitch.

"As I was running to third I saw the catcher jogging so I decided to go for it," said Justin Christian when asked about the exciting play. "I like to be aggressive at the plate, in the outfield, and on the bases, that's just how I play."

Christian attributes his stolen base prowess to his aggressiveness, natural speed and ability to read a pitchers pickoff move.

"The key to stealing a base is to get on base. No matter how fast you are, if you can't get on base you can't steal," said Christian. "Once I'm on base I try to force the pitcher to throw over once so I can time his move. After I see his move I'm ready to go."

Trenton Manager Bill Masse shares his speedster's opinion that his aggressiveness is one of his greatest assets to the team.

"He's an aggressive player. That's the way he plays every time he steps onto the field," said Masse. "Sometimes I have to hold the reins back on him, because if it was up to Justin, he'd try to steal every first pitch."

Christian got off to such a hot start this season he was moved from the 9-,hole in the lineup to the leadoff spot. But since the start of May Christian has hit a rough stretch at the plate, which has led Masse to move him out of the leadoff spot. He's hitting .255 with 9 RBI's and a team leading 4 triples.

"I had a hot start but I still wasn't comfortable with my swing even though I was getting a lot of hits," said Christian. "Lately I've been a lot more comfortable at the plate. I've just had some bad luck hitting the ball right at people."

When the Yankees first signed Christian he was a second basemen but with the ascensions of second basemen such as Robinson Cano and Gabe Lopez, the organization felt he would be best suited to play the outfield.

Christian has been a main stay in the Trenton lineup, starting 31 games in the outfield most of which have been in center. Although the transition from the infield to outfield isn't complete, player and coach alike believe a bright future in the outfield is very possible.

"Of all the players I have he's made the most improvement defensively this year," said Masse. "I was shaky about playing him in center at first but he's been great out there. He can run down any ball. The only thing he needs to work on is his decision making on dives and throwing runners out."

"I wouldn't say I'm completely adjusted to the outfield yet, but with every game I play out in center, I'm getting a lot better," said Christian.

Due to his advanced age (26 years old) many people believe the clock is ticking on his career, but in the eyes of Christian he's right on schedule.

"I hear the age thing a lot, but with my injuries and late start into pro ball I think I'm right on schedule," said Christian. "I'd rather be 40 and putting up good numbers than 20 and putting up bad numbers. If I can continue to work on my defense and start hitting more balls into the gap where I can use my speed, I'm confident my time will come.

Throwing, fielding, and hitting are all skills that can be taught and improved with the right coaching, but pure speed is something you are just blessed with and speed kills.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nChristian, who was undrafted out of college, spent his first full season in affiliated baseball splitting time between Charleston and Tampa in 2005. Christian excelled swiping 55 bases, which led the organization. So far this year he is up to his old tricks, stealing 22 bags in 24 attempts including an amazing steal of home from second base on a wild pitch.
\r\n
\r\n\"As I was running to third I saw the catcher jogging so I decided to go for it,\" said Justin Christian when asked about the exciting play. \"I like to be aggressive at the plate, in the outfield, and on the bases, that's just how I play.\"
\r\n
\r\nChristian attributes his stolen base prowess to his aggressiveness, natural speed and ability to read a pitchers pickoff move.
\r\n
\r\n\"The key to stealing a base is to get on base. No matter how fast you are, if you can't get on base you can't steal,\" said Christian. \"Once I'm on base I try to force the pitcher to throw over once so I can time his move. After I see his move I'm ready to go.\"
\r\n
\r\nTrenton Manager Bill Masse shares his speedster's opinion that his aggressiveness is one of his greatest assets to the team.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's an aggressive player. That's the way he plays every time he steps onto the field,\" said Masse. \"Sometimes I have to hold the reins back on him, because if it was up to Justin, he'd try to steal every first pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\nChristian got off to such a hot start this season he was moved from the 9-,hole in the lineup to the leadoff spot. But since the start of May Christian has hit a rough stretch at the plate, which has led Masse to move him out of the leadoff spot. He's hitting .255 with 9 RBI's and a team leading 4 triples.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had a hot start but I still wasn't comfortable with my swing even though I was getting a lot of hits,\" said Christian. \"Lately I've been a lot more comfortable at the plate. I've just had some bad luck hitting the ball right at people.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhen the Yankees first signed Christian he was a second basemen but with the ascensions of second basemen such as Robinson Cano and Gabe Lopez, the organization felt he would be best suited to play the outfield.
\r\n
\r\nChristian has been a main stay in the Trenton lineup, starting 31 games in the outfield most of which have been in center. Although the transition from the infield to outfield isn't complete, player and coach alike believe a bright future in the outfield is very possible.
\r\n
\r\n\"Of all the players I have he's made the most improvement defensively this year,\" said Masse. \"I was shaky about playing him in center at first but he's been great out there. He can run down any ball. The only thing he needs to work on is his decision making on dives and throwing runners out.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I wouldn't say I'm completely adjusted to the outfield yet, but with every game I play out in center, I'm getting a lot better,\" said Christian.
\r\n
\r\nDue to his advanced age (26 years old) many people believe the clock is ticking on his career, but in the eyes of Christian he's right on schedule.
\r\n
\r\n\"I hear the age thing a lot, but with my injuries and late start into pro ball I think I'm right on schedule,\" said Christian. \"I'd rather be 40 and putting up good numbers than 20 and putting up bad numbers. If I can continue to work on my defense and start hitting more balls into the gap where I can use my speed, I'm confident my time will come.
\r\n
\r\nThrowing, fielding, and hitting are all skills that can be taught and improved with the right coaching, but pure speed is something you are just blessed with and speed kills.
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