Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fightins Quotables: Crawford and Lively ready for bigger challenges

JP Crawford, image- Jay Floyd
Recently, I spoke with a pair of top performers from the Double-A Reading Fightins in shortstop J.P. Crawford and starting pitcher Ben Lively. Crawford, of course, is the Phillies' top prospect and their top draft pick from 2013. In 34 games this season, the 21-year-old sports a .262 average with two home runs and 11 RBI also sporting a strong OBP at .389. The 24-year-old Lively has been the ace of the Reading staff, posting a 6-0 record with a 1.53 ERA and an 8.8 K/9 mark through eight starts.

Read ahead for interview excerpts from each player.

Crawford-

-He spoke on his manager Dusty Wathan's comments (click here for those) that he expects Crawford to be promoted to Triple-A in the coming weeks and if he thinks he's ready for that move...

Yeah, I think I’ve been playing good and I’m ready to prove what I can do if I get moved up and if I don’t, I’ll just keep doing what I do and keep performing.
-Talking about what he focuses on to stay motivated...
Honestly, I’m just focused on winning and playing good team baseball. You can put up all the numbers, but it’s no fun when you’re losing. I mean, atmosphere is great when you’re winning. Everybody’s in a better mood. I love this team and it's fun when we're winning here, so I focus on winning.
-Comments on working with, at times, the Urban Youth Academy and making an impact among young players...
It’s great, just being an influence to younger kids, I mean, it’s unbelievable. It’s a great feeling you get inside. I remember when I was younger, (Aaron) Hicks would be there and I would be like, “Damn, I want to be like him and I’m happy he’s out here.” So, I just want to do the same and give back.

-Speaking on which big league Phillies stood out as being most helpful to him, during his time with the team in spring training this year...
I’d say (Andres) Blanco and (Emmanuel) Burriss. Burriss helped me out a lot just with life questions and just asking him stuff like what I should and shouldn’t do up there. He’s there for baseball, he’s there for anything really. So, he said if you need anything ever, just hit me up. And I’m happy for him.
Lively-

-Talking about if he feels ready for a move upward in the system...

I always feel ready for the next challenge and I definitely feel the sharpest I've felt in the past few years. I definitely feel like I'm on track for where I need to be It's just a matter of the front office seeing that and it's their decision. I'm ready to go whenever.

-Commenting on what homework he does on his opponents and how that can help him...

I mean, obviously, when I'm charting, if I'm pitch against that team, then I'm looking the whole time then. And when we have the pitchers' meeting before the game, when I'm pitching, I kind of just nit-pick some stuff and get on the right plan and then roll with it during the game.

-Sharing thoughts on what he changed last off-season to improve...

I was working out with my buddy Nick Goody, who actually plays with the Yankees on the big league club right now. He actually helped me mess around with my fastball grip and my slider grip and it's been a lot better this year and it's been a lot more comfortable. It's definitely helped a lot.

I always noticed he had a good slider. My fastball grip, I was always spreading my fingers too wide and that's-- and I don't know why. They just kept getting wider and wider and it was getting uncomfortable for me and I just flipped it around and he said he did it too and it's just been real comfortable and it's been working out pretty good.



The contributions of both players have certainly helped the Fightins, as they sit atop the Eastern League's Eastern division with a 25-13 record. Here's hoping they both get the promotion they are deserving of and the team can continue to thrive without them.
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