Tim Gradoville is a career minor league catcher, who once, as a September call up, was up with the big club for the proverbial cup of coffee. Slated to be the Phillies bullpen catcher, at a later date, Gradoville is currently assigned as a special instructor with the Lakewood BlueClaws. I had the opportunity to speak with Tim and here's how that went down...
What's the atmosphere with the BlueClaws like so far this season?
Well, I think we have a good mix of players. We have some veteran guys, and some young guys too, so it makes for an interesting mix. I think the guys like to have a good time, and they're pretty loose and that translates into winning games. They have a good time. With a young team, you never know what you're gonna get, sometimes, but they seem to gel pretty well together, so that helps to build team unity, helps guys get along. They're having fun, they're enjoying baseball. This game can be a grind sometimes, if you're not having fun.
What's your situation as a coach with the team? How long will you be with Lakewood?
That's really up to the organization. I'm just trying to get myself basically better as far as batting practice goes, and working with the younger catching prospects too. So, hopefully once I get that batting practice figured out, hopefully I'll be back (with the big club).
What are the advantages for a guy like (prospect) Travis D'Arnaud having you and Dusty Wathan (two former catchers) as coaches?
He's a young guy, and a lot of times high school guys don't have a lot of catching help in high school. A lot of people don't know how to teach catching. Obviously, with Dusty as manager, and me being here, we can get a lot of work done with him, pass on some of the knowledge that we have. It's really up to him to get the work done and work hard on his own too.
Are there any players on the Lakewood team that you think might resemble a current Major League Phillie with aspects of his game?
Well, we've got a lot of speed on the team, which is a good asset to have. (18 yr old OF, Anthony) Gose runs the bases really well. Obviously, speed with Gose- maybe (he compares to) a guy like Victorino, ya know, something like that, as far as his base running ability. He's got a lot of things to learn as far as how to steal bases, but he goes on raw speed right now.
Do you have a most memorable moment from your time as a player in the Phillies system?
I'd have to say getting called up in '06 was the big moment for me....at the end of the year. It was pretty unexpected, but obviously a highlight of my life. Also, playing with a lot of good team mates, and learning a lot from guys who have been there before. I miss the comradery of being on that team. Just playing with those guys, and the atmosphere that I had to play with, was always the highlight of my career.
What is Dusty like to work with?
He's great. He kind of lets people do their thing, as far as lets Bob (Milacki) work with his pitchers, lets (Greg) Legg work with the hitters, lets me work with the catchers. I mean, he helps out, and does a lot of extra work with guys. But he's really relaxed, he's fair, and knows when to get on guys and when not to. I think all the players respect who he is, and what he stands for. He's a great manager for being in his second year. Obviously, he has a dad (John Wathan) who managed in the big leagues, which helps, but he's starting off his (managing) career pretty well. He seems like a players' manager....a guy who you want to play for, and play hard for. That's all he demands, ya know- hard work and repsect. That's all these guys need to do to make him happy is go out there and play hard every day.
What was your favorite team and who was your favorite player growing up?
St. Louis Cardinals and Ozzie Smith.