|Chace Numata, image- Jay Floyd|
Originally a 14th round draft choice by the Phillies in 2010, the Hawaii native is excited to be playing in the Double-A Eastern League this year. Prior to Reading's exhibition game last week at the Phils' Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley, I chatted with Chace about this season, his past and his time in big league camp this year. Read ahead for that full interview.
- I playfully wanted to ask you about being the Phillies' leader in batting average during spring training...
- Yeah, you batted .500!
That's right. That's right. I only got two at bats, but I think just being in big league camp and having those big league at bats, it was incredible. The first at bat I struck out, obviously, but for some reason I was still kind of happy that I was playing, so going into that second at bat I felt like, alright it can only get better from here and, you know, it just so happened that I got a hit.
- Who did you face? Do you have each moment committed to memory?
Don't remember. I kind of blanked out for a solid two minutes.
- Who would you say helped a lot with you on the offensive side of your game to help you lock in that team batting crown?
Rob Ducey helped me out a lot last season and I kind of took what he told me into the off-season and then this spring, I got to work with Matt Stairs. He helped me. My swing was a little rusty coming into spring training and he just taught me some little things like stay back and work with the top hand, so my barrel can stay on plain instead of dropping. Kinda went from there and tried to pick everyone's minds while I was there in big league camp.
- I haven't seen you in person since about four years ago when you were with Lakewood and my memories of you from then include you representing that team when they hosted the Sally League All-Star Game and of course catching Roy Halladay in his rehab appearance there. Do those two things stand out for you, as far as career highlights?
Of course. It still does. Making All-Star rosters, that's definitely a great thing, but if I had to pick one moment from my professional career, it would be catch Doc Halladay. You know? Kinda like a surreal moment. It's one of those things, you see him pitch on TV all the time and then here he is, sitting next to me in the locker room. It's one of those things that I'll never forget.
- Have you ever caught anyone else in a rehab outing or session that stands out as memorable?
I caught Jamie Moyer. I thought that was a trip. You know, a guy that had been playing in the league for such a long time and catching his bullpen, a 200-win guy. I thought that was really cool. I caught Cole Hamels a few times. Pretty much everyone that came down and rehabbed while I was rehabbing as well, so it was really cool to see them in the training room and just talk stories with them and not feel like I'm left out.
- I feel like it was a long road for you to get to Reading. Maybe you feel the same way. But after missing nearly a full season with injuries (wrist and elbow issues) in 2014, then playing the past two years in Clearwater, what does it mean to you to open the season with Double-A Reading?
Incredible! Coming into the 2017 season, being a free agent, then signing back with the Phillies, I think this year has been really awesome. Going to big league camp as a non-roster invitee, and then being able to leave Florida for the first time in three years I think, you know it's been a while that I've been in Single A. A change of scenery, it's Double-A you know, Baseballtown. It's definitely a cool experience!
- So, you mention Baseballtown there and I'm sure you've already heard the reputation that FirstEnergy Stadium has as a hitters' park. How will you plan to guide and lead this pitching staff in what can be troublesome territory?
You know what? I that's just getting in touch with my pitchers. Being able to have a similar game plan. Most of the pitchers here, I've already caught them, so we have a similar game plan, knowing that it is a small ballpark, you know, but they still have to hit it good to get it out. And just remembering that it's in their hands and they're going to get guys out more than hitters are going to get hits.
- What does the chance to play an exhibition in Lehigh Valley mean to you, being able to see the park and what is ahead, up a level?
This game is almost like a fresh start, going into our 2017 season with our Double-A Squad and against out Triple-A squad. It'll be cool being back on the field. It's almost like spring training all over again. You know, obviously, we're out here trying to beat them, but we're also out here still trying to have fun and work on some things that we need to do as a team.