|Mark Laird, image- Jay Floyd|
On Wednesday, four Phillies minor league affiliates took part in postseason play with only Class A Lakewood coming out as winners. Prior to the contest that saw the BlueClaws take a 1-0 lead in the South Atlantic League division series, I chatted with Lakewood outfielder and lead-off man Mark Laird.
The 23-year-old 9th round draft selection from last year shared insight on his season, which didn't get rolling until July due to a back injury, the BlueClaws second-half title, the team's pitching staff and more. Read ahead for that full interview.
-What is your level of excitement, entering the postseason, the BlueClaws' first time in the playoffs in six years?
When I got here, it was kind of a long shot at making the playoffs and I think everyone did a good job staying positive and we really finished strong. I don't know how many games we won out of the last 30 games or so, but it seemed like we hardly ever lost. That has to do with our pitching. Our pitching has been lights out, out starters and our bullpen and then we've been getting hits when we needed them. Even one-run games, we seemed to win and I think that made the difference.
-You've been batting lead-off for the club in recent weeks. What does it mean to you to have your manager's confidence to be at the top of the order?
It means a lot that he trusts me to get things going and be a table setter and that's kind of what I see myself as is someone that's going to battle in the count-- not afraid to get deep in the count and put balls in play and try to get on base for the heart of our order.
-What are your overall feelings on the type of season you've had?
It's really kind of a shock 'cause I didn't really expect it to go the way I wanted to after being out with an injury for half of the year, but I felt like I came back and did kind of what I wanted to. I felt like in Williamsport I did pretty well and here, I kind of transitioned that over. I had a lot of confidence and I've been keeping that confidence and staying positive, building off past performances and continuing to move forward.
-What details can you share on the injury?
I hurt my lower back in spring training.
-Was there any procedure needed or was it all rest and rehab?
No procedures, just rehab and rest. I was getting ready to come back and had a set back, so it was a grinding process I had to be patient with, but the trainers did a good job of getting me back.
-You spoke of the pitching staff performing great and they've gotten a lot of credit. The team still can't win without scoring runs, so is there anyone in the lineup you'd say should be getting some recognition also?
I feel like it's not just one guy doing all the work. One through nine, everyone's been battling at the plate and having good plate appearances, not giving at bats away. It only takes a couple runs to get a W with the way (our pitchers) have been throwing.
This interview originally appeared on PhillyLongDrive.