Q&A with Luis Sojo

We sat down with Tampa Yankees Manager Luis Sojo for a Q&A session to get his thoughts on what has been the biggest difference in Marcos Vechionacci from earlier in the season until now, if he thinks Austin Jackson is as good as his hot start was, what he has seen from Francisco Cervelli, if he's worried about Jose Tabata's lack of home run power right now, and much, much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: Marcos Vechionacci, after getting off to a rough start, seems to have turned things around a bit. What have you seen from him from the beginning of the season until now?

Luis Sojo: Well he's put in a lot of work, defensively especially. This is an organization guy that they like very much. He still has a long way to go defensively-wise, but he has turned around his game big-time. What I'd like to see more from him is defensively because I think he's going to hit. Sometimes he shuts it down defensively a little bit when he makes a couple of outs offensively. When he plays defense, he'll put his head down, stuff like that. You don't like that but he's doing a lot better now.

PinstripesPlus: When Austin Jackson got to your team, he was as hot as it gets. He then cooled off a little bit but seems to be turning it back on. Is he as good as hot start indicates or was it a bit of an aberration?

Sojo: He's good. I never saw this guy play, but when you see this guy day in and day out, that's going to tell you how could this guy can be. He's for real. He's a good centerfielder, he's got good speed, he can hit for average, he can hit for power - he can do it all. I think he's going to be a good player in the future. The only thing with him, and not just him but all of the guys, is just play fundamental baseball. You've got to do the little things and that's what is going to take you to the big leagues. When you don't do the little things, you're going to spend a lot of time in the minor leagues. These young guys are still learning how to play the game and hopefully they're going to get the message.

PinstripesPlus: Speaking of the little things, it seems Eduardo Nunez has the talent. Do you see the talent in him and do you think he has what it takes to start turning it around a bit?

Sojo: Oh I like him very much. He's a good shortstop, he has a very good arm. He's not switch-hitting anymore. He's a guy like Vechionacci, the guy who brings his offense to play defense and that's not good for him. I keep telling him that day in and day out. Like I said though, they're young. They're 20 or 21 years old, that happens to everybody. We've been teaching him how to do things and hopefully he's going to get it.

PinstripesPlus: Francisco Cervelli is out with the injury right now, but this was his first full year catching and he skipped a level. What did you see from both offensively and defensively this year?

Sojo: Defensively there's no doubt he could catch in the big leagues right now. That's what I think. He knows how to call pitches and he's a leader, that's the thing I like about him. He plays hard day in and day out. Offensively he still needs a lot of work, but he gets things quick. I think this guy is going to be in the big leagues sometime soon. He's a hard worker, he comes to park and works hard everyday. As a manager, you love that. He doesn't worry about going 0-4, he's the kind of guy that likes to win and that's very important.

PinstripesPlus: George Kontos had a terrific start to the year and then struggled for a bit. What have you seen from him development-wise this year?

Sojo: He's the kind of guy that likes to compete. When you see a guy on the mound with that attitude, you like that. He's got to work on his command, but that's going to come. He's a young guy. He's got to cut the pitches down a little bit and that's coming. You see a guy who goes out there for five innings, he's lights out, and then the next thing you know he starts throwing a lot of pitches. That's what happens though when you try to do too much. He likes to compete, and as a manager, you like that.

PinstripesPlus: Jose Tabata, like Cervelli, is out with an injury but had a solid season for you. He kind of gets a bad reputation for not hitting home runs. Is his lack of home run power something that concerns you for his future success?

Sojo: Not really, I mean he's strong. He's 18 years old and he hits the ball the other way, which, you don't see that too often. When you see him take BP, he's got some power. He's just got to develop that and I think that's going to come. I'm not worried about that because this kid is such a good hitter. He's got the potential to hit 20-25 home runs in the big leagues one day. He has to work on that [loft in his swing] because the power is already there. He's just got to develop that and he's going to get that with more work.

PinstripesPlus: Talk about Eric Wordekemper. He has put up some really good numbers this year in the closer's role despite not really having closer stuff. Is he a guy who has opened some eyes in the organization this year?

Sojo: When the season started, every time he got the save, he'd give up one run or they would hit the ball hard off of him earlier in the year, but he has really turned it around. The next you know, you put some confidence in that guy and keep giving him the ball in the tough situations, he came through. Now he has the closer's mentality. He might not be a closer in the big leagues, but no doubt, this guy gets the job done whenever you need it.

PinstripesPlus: Josh Schmidt didn't have a great year last season but has pitched very well this year. What's the difference between him this season and last year?

Sojo: I think this is the guy who needs to throw strikes. If he gets ahead of you earlier in the count, it basically is going to be over because with two strikes here comes that slow slider. I've got a lot of confidence in him. I can bring Josh in any situation, especially when I need a strikeout. Him and Valdez are guys I go to when I need a strikeout. But with 'Schmitty', the difference this year is he's throwing strikes. He's getting ahead in the count and even know they know what's coming, they still haven't made that adjustment. That's good for him, I'm glad he's doing a real good job. If you throw strikes and get guys out, you're always going to have a chance to get to the big leagues. I think he's got to develop that fastball a little bit more, but those kind of guys [sub-mariner types] get outs pretty easy. Those kind of guys can make a living in the big leagues.

PinstripesPlus: Well since you brought him up, talk about Jose Valdez. He was a guy throwing some gas a couple of years ago but missed basically two years with injuries. What have you seen from him this season?

Sojo: He was throwing 95 or 96, now he's throwing 91-92, but he has such a good split-finger. He's the kind of guy now that lives with his breaking balls. When you've got a little sinker that he throws, a slider, and a nasty split-finger - things are going real good for him. When he started the year with us, since he didn't pitch for like two or three years, you didn't know what was going to happen. He has done a real good job for me. I give the ball to all of my guys.

PinstripesPlus: A guy you had last year and this year is Phil Coke. Have you seen any changes to his game?

Sojo: Not really. I like Phil. He's got good stuff. He changes speeds real good. He doesn't have a bad fastball and he's got a nasty changeup. He throws basically everything. He knows how to pitch, that's the thing I like about him. He likes to compete too. Sometimes he's a little whacko when he tries to throw too many pitches, but he knows how to pitch.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Marcos Vechionacci, after getting off to a rough start, seems to have turned things around a bit. What have you seen from him from the beginning of the season until now?
\r\n
\r\nLuis Sojo: Well he's put in a lot of work, defensively especially. This is an organization guy that they like very much. He still has a long way to go defensively-wise, but he has turned around his game big-time. What I'd like to see more from him is defensively because I think he's going to hit. Sometimes he shuts it down defensively a little bit when he makes a couple of outs offensively. When he plays defense, he'll put his head down, stuff like that. You don't like that but he's doing a lot better now.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: When Austin Jackson got to your team, he was as hot as it gets. He then cooled off a little bit but seems to be turning it back on. Is he as good as hot start indicates or was it a bit of an aberration?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: He's good. I never saw this guy play, but when you see this guy day in and day out, that's going to tell you how could this guy can be. He's for real. He's a good centerfielder, he's got good speed, he can hit for average, he can hit for power - he can do it all. I think he's going to be a good player in the future. The only thing with him, and not just him but all of the guys, is just play fundamental baseball. You've got to do the little things and that's what is going to take you to the big leagues. When you don't do the little things, you're going to spend a lot of time in the minor leagues. These young guys are still learning how to play the game and hopefully they're going to get the message.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Speaking of the little things, it seems Eduardo Nunez has the talent. Do you see the talent in him and do you think he has what it takes to start turning it around a bit?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: Oh I like him very much. He's a good shortstop, he has a very good arm. He's not switch-hitting anymore. He's a guy like Vechionacci, the guy who brings his offense to play defense and that's not good for him. I keep telling him that day in and day out. Like I said though, they're young. They're 20 or 21 years old, that happens to everybody. We've been teaching him how to do things and hopefully he's going to get it.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Francisco Cervelli is out with the injury right now, but this was his first full year catching and he skipped a level. What did you see from both offensively and defensively this year?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: Defensively there's no doubt he could catch in the big leagues right now. That's what I think. He knows how to call pitches and he's a leader, that's the thing I like about him. He plays hard day in and day out. Offensively he still needs a lot of work, but he gets things quick. I think this guy is going to be in the big leagues sometime soon. He's a hard worker, he comes to park and works hard everyday. As a manager, you love that. He doesn't worry about going 0-4, he's the kind of guy that likes to win and that's very important.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: George Kontos had a terrific start to the year and then struggled for a bit. What have you seen from him development-wise this year?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: He's the kind of guy that likes to compete. When you see a guy on the mound with that attitude, you like that. He's got to work on his command, but that's going to come. He's a young guy. He's got to cut the pitches down a little bit and that's coming. You see a guy who goes out there for five innings, he's lights out, and then the next thing you know he starts throwing a lot of pitches. That's what happens though when you try to do too much. He likes to compete, and as a manager, you like that.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Jose Tabata, like Cervelli, is out with an injury but had a solid season for you. He kind of gets a bad reputation for not hitting home runs. Is his lack of home run power something that concerns you for his future success?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: Not really, I mean he's strong. He's 18 years old and he hits the ball the other way, which, you don't see that too often. When you see him take BP, he's got some power. He's just got to develop that and I think that's going to come. I'm not worried about that because this kid is such a good hitter. He's got the potential to hit 20-25 home runs in the big leagues one day. He has to work on that [loft in his swing] because the power is already there. He's just got to develop that and he's going to get that with more work.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Talk about Eric Wordekemper. He has put up some really good numbers this year in the closer's role despite not really having closer stuff. Is he a guy who has opened some eyes in the organization this year?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: When the season started, every time he got the save, he'd give up one run or they would hit the ball hard off of him earlier in the year, but he has really turned it around. The next you know, you put some confidence in that guy and keep giving him the ball in the tough situations, he came through. Now he has the closer's mentality. He might not be a closer in the big leagues, but no doubt, this guy gets the job done whenever you need it.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Josh Schmidt didn't have a great year last season but has pitched very well this year. What's the difference between him this season and last year?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: I think this is the guy who needs to throw strikes. If he gets ahead of you earlier in the count, it basically is going to be over because with two strikes here comes that slow slider. I've got a lot of confidence in him. I can bring Josh in any situation, especially when I need a strikeout. Him and Valdez are guys I go to when I need a strikeout. But with 'Schmitty', the difference this year is he's throwing strikes. He's getting ahead in the count and even know they know what's coming, they still haven't made that adjustment. That's good for him, I'm glad he's doing a real good job. If you throw strikes and get guys out, you're always going to have a chance to get to the big leagues. I think he's got to develop that fastball a little bit more, but those kind of guys [sub-mariner types] get outs pretty easy. Those kind of guys can make a living in the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Well since you brought him up, talk about Jose Valdez. He was a guy throwing some gas a couple of years ago but missed basically two years with injuries. What have you seen from him this season?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: He was throwing 95 or 96, now he's throwing 91-92, but he has such a good split-finger. He's the kind of guy now that lives with his breaking balls. When you've got a little sinker that he throws, a slider, and a nasty split-finger - things are going real good for him. When he started the year with us, since he didn't pitch for like two or three years, you didn't know what was going to happen. He has done a real good job for me. I give the ball to all of my guys.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: A guy you had last year and this year is Phil Coke. Have you seen any changes to his game?
\r\n
\r\nSojo: Not really. I like Phil. He's got good stuff. He changes speeds real good. He doesn't have a bad fastball and he's got a nasty changeup. He throws basically everything. He knows how to pitch, that's the thing I like about him. He likes to compete too. Sometimes he's a little whacko when he tries to throw too many pitches, but he knows how to pitch.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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