|Matt Hockenberry, image- Jay Floyd|
Following a 2014 campaign that saw the Dillsburg, PA native tally a 3-0 record with two saves and a 5.12 ERA in 20 outings, Hockenberry bounced back with a great season for the Lakewood BlueClaws this year. In 42 appearances, the 24-year-old posted a 4-4 record with 19 saves and a 2.24 ERA.
Last week I spoke with Matt about his off-season routine, his ties to Temple and the city of Philadelphia, coaching youth players as well as how he tries to knock down boundaries between American and Latino players. Read ahead for that full interview.
-What is the amount of downtime, the time you go without picking up a ball, that you enjoy during the off-season and then what do you do to knock the rust off once action resumes?
That's actually a, I guess, a difficult question for myself. I'm not what you consider a big money guy. I got drafted in the 9th round and everything, but I didn't get a a big signing bonus because I was signed as a senior out of Temple, so I actually work as soon as the season is done. My job is coaching kids between the ages of six and 18 in the Media Line area, out in Broomall, PA area, with the All-Star Baseball Academy...so I touch a baseball every day. So, I really don't have down time like you're asking. I just pace myself as to when I start throwing again, uh, you know I do all the lists and requirements that the Phillies are having me do, but I'm touching a baseball everyday, so I have to monitor what type of activity I'm doing in order to make sure I'm not going to burn myself out for when I have to start my training portion.
-So, when it is time for you to do your own prep work and start building towards spring training, what is the time frame there and then what do you start doing differently?
This year I am starting just a little bit earlier. But, I'm going to pace myself. Last year was my first spring training and I think one of the reasons I had a little hiccup in my elbow throughout the season, was because I was ready to rock and roll January 1st. It was my first spring training, so I didn't know what to expect and I wanted to be as ready as possible. But, now that I have that and my first full season under my belt, I kind of know how to pace myself a little better. I probably won't start throwing bullpens until mid-January and they're going to be very light at that.
I try to do what (the Phillies assign us) to the best of my ability, so I'm not going to wear myself out. And more importantly, I'm just doing all of the arm care and I'm teaching high school guys how to do this type of arm care, so it forces me to get mine in.
-How do you feel about coaching and doing that sort of thing? Is that helpful for you and did you have access to any pro guys when you were coming up to help your progress?
I actually never had a place like All-Star in the place where I am at. Where I grew up when it was baseball season, it was baseball season. But when it wasn't, you were playing other sports. Whether it was basketball or indoor soccer, I was a basketball guy.
To me, it is very important. I have a very strong relationship with the All-Star Baseball Academy, based out of Philadelphia.