Tuesday, April 3, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading manager Greg Legg addresses the media

Greg Legg, image- Jay Floyd
Tuesday was media day in Reading, with players and the club's manager, Greg Legg, meeting with local reporters for the first time in 2018.

Legg's track record with the Phillies dates back to 1982 when the team drafted him as an infielder in the 22nd round.

With the season opening for Reading on Thursday at home against Erie, Legg spoke about his plans for the roster, impressions of some players and plenty more.

Read ahead for that full interview.


-Sharing thoughts on the strengths of his five starters, Jake Waguespack, Ranger Suarez, JoJo Romero, Franklyn Kilome and Harold Arauz...

Probably, if you were going to sum up all five of them, probably their competitiveness.  They're all good athletes.  Waguespack, watching him grow, has been a lot of fun for me.  The last game he threw was four innings and he pretty much threw all fastballs in an intra-squad game and he just dominated our hitters, with the extension he's getting.  Suarez was fun.  That was the first taste I ever got to see him and he just attacked everybody and he pitched efficient, he just got after it.  And Romero's ball's moving all over the place.  And Kilome is, we saw him last year, he's got that hook, it's nasty and plus the good fastball.  So, we've got a good group.  Arauz I haven't seen much.  The little bit I saw was like he has a way of getting people out.  All he's done is win so far.  So, this is going to be a great test for 'em all.

-Additional thoughts on Jake Waguespack and his progress in 2017...

He just kept getting better as the year went.  It was unbelievable how far he went from when I saw him the year before.  He was pitching in the bullpen and all of a sudden he was a starter and he just kept going, the fastball's getting better and the extension that he gets and the angle, he's so big and strong, it's nice.

-Providing insight on how many innings he expects starting pitchers to go...

I'm gonna let them- they'll tell us.  If you watch the games, the pitchers tell you or the hitters that they're facing let you know where they're at.  We know it's a long season and it's about the future, so we'll be- I don't want to say the word careful, but they'll tell us when it's time to sit and then wait the next four or five days for their next start.

-Speaking on if the key for this team is the development of the five starting pitchers...

That's a huge key.  We just gotta catch the ball behind them and hope they keep getting better with each outing.  We're talking about they just keep improving.  From the start of this season, where they just left spring training, until the end of the season.  If they keep improving the way they should be, then their development it'll be right on pace.

-Talking about how he expects to use relief pitcher Seranthony Dominguez...

Multiple innings at the beginning.  We'll get him out there one, two-- multiple innings in the beginning, then as time goes on, he's gonna tell us, we'll probably give him a chance at closing some games.  But, at the beginning, we're gonna give him the ball and then I'm gonna sit down and relax and see what happens. I'll take a seat and say, "Go get 'em, kid."

-Feedback on what he saw from Dominguez in spring training...

It's pretty good.  It was exciting to see this spring.  There was one outing where they touched him a little bit.  We didn't make a play, then a guy blooped one, and then a guy hit one hard.  All the other outings, they were in complete command.

-On the topic of how Ranger Suarez was declared the team's opening day starter...

It's kind of the way it fell.  We were playing games and games went on and a guy had maybe a small setback and he didn't make that start, a blister on his finger or whatever and it just fell that way.  There was no rhyme or reason to who got number one, it just went that way.

-Talking about Suarez's spring outings...

Outstanding.  I saw two starts.  Both starts were very pitch efficient, very good athlete.  He got after it and the innings were quick.

-Asked if he's prepared his hurlers for Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium, which has a reputation of playing as a hitter's park...

We haven't talked about it yet, as far as the short dimensions and things like that, but there's a lot of those parks in the big leagues now.  Yankee Stadium, our park (Citizens Bank Park) plays very hitter-friendly, so does Cincinnati.  So, you gotta learn to pitch in those ballparks.  So, we haven't talked about it.  I'm sure they talk about it with teammates that are at Triple-A or now in the big leagues.  You know, Reading can be an unforgiving place when you're pitching, but if you strike people out and get ground balls, you don't have to worry about it. 

-Sharing thoughts on what he is looking for from catcher Deivi Grullon...


To keep getting better, communicate, lead.  All the things he's been working on in spring training.  His English continues to grow and get better and as that's gotten better, his leadership qualities have gotten better. 

-On how he plans to use his players offensively...

Each guy's a little bit different.  Coppola; get on base.  Tomscha; hit doubles, drive in runs.  Heiker (Meneses); hit and run a little bit, move the ball.  Martin; add on to your year and hit .250, keep hitting some homers, but cut down on your strike outs.  Each guy's a little different, so you can't treat them as one.

-Speaking on if returning players Kyle Martin, Damek Tomscha and Zach Coppola will be relied on as leaders for younger guy...

Yeah, I think a lot of the burden of the offense should fall on them until Randolph and Hernandez get their feet wet a little bit.  That's kind of the way it should be.  The veterans take over. You've been here, show 'em how it's done and then let those guys feel their way through a little bit and then, hopefully, those guys will move on and the Randolph's and the Hernandez's will take the leadership role in the second half.


C. Randolph, image- Jay Floyd
-Regarding expectations for Cornelius Randolph, a first round draft pick of the Phillies...


I don't expect him to come out in the first month and hit .350 and hit 10 homers and drive in 35 runs.  I expect him to get a taste of what this is and continue to get better as a player and he's got lightening hands.  His hands are quick enough to hit in this league, but it's just...if you can play at Double-A, you can play in the big leagues.  It may take him a few games to get his feet wet and he might get out of the gate good.  I sure hope he does, but I look for him to continue to improve as the year progresses.  

He's got quick hands.  Sometimes he waits a long time till the ball's there and then he's able to barrel the ball.  He's got some good hands.

-Some thoughts on Tomscha...

He's gonna play some first, some third, some left (field).  I expect him to drive in runs and to do what he does, which is to hit.  He's- I want to say he hit over .300 last year and hit a lot of doubles and just be an RBI guy for us and kind of do what he does for us, which is hit.  He's always hit.  


-Feedback on where Randolph could bat in the lineup...

Fifth, sixth, somewhere in there.  Don't want to put him in the three hole or four hole yet.  We'll let him tell us where he's going to hit.  Give him some time to watch the other guys, the guys with a little more experience and then go from there.  

He's 20 years old.  You got to let him become a man.  He's still a young man and as time goes on he'll continue to get better.

-Chatting about himself...

I'm trying to have as much fun as I can.  The older I get, I just want to enjoy the moment a little bit more and kind of realize where you're at with this.  It's supposed to be fun, make it fun for the players in that room and continue to develop and kind of do a little of what we did last year- send guys up and have more guys get to Philly than last year.

-Regarding seeing players he's helped progress through the minors reach the big leagues...

That's the best feeling you get.  Usually, you're sitting in your chair in September, after you've done wife's chores, what she had you do, and you look up and there's a guy that you worked with and now he's in the big leagues.  And usually you're by yourself.  The kids are out doing something, your wife's already in bed and you kind of toast them.  "Cheers to you guys!"  

It's a great feeling.  It's the best we get in our job.

-Sharing thoughts on the new rule in the minors where each extra inning begins with a runner on second base...

The best thing to come out of it is I won't have to call Doug Mansolino at two in the morning and say, "Hey, Manzo.  We need two pitchers!"  And if we need two or three, then the team we took them from needs two or three.  That'll probably be the best thing that comes out of it; less player transactions when you don't want to move a guy and you're just doing it out of necessity.  

We practiced it a little in spring training in our intra-squad games.  You know, put us in those positions and our group wasn't good at moving the runner in those three innings that we did it.  But, as a purist, a guy that's been around as long as I have, I kind of don't like it, but for those reasons that we talked about earlier, where you don't have to keep moving players, in the minor leagues, it might be a good thing.  

-On if he would prefer an inning cap and a tie rule instead of the runner-on-second...

If I get into that, of what I think-- I think there should be no double headers in the minor leagues.  It's a seven-inning game, not a nine-inning game.  And if you play a 2-1 game, you might have a guy that only gets two at bats, versus the four at bats he would have had in a nine-inning game.  That way everybody does everything to get the game in that day.  There'd be no rush to bang it.  So, that's my opinion, and then you just go by winning percentage.  

-Commenting on if he has aspirations of coaching in the big leagues...

I think all of us do.  That's why young showed up at the ballpark back in 1982, my first time in a pro uniform.  I was trying to get to the big leagues.  I won't lose that dream until I hang 'em up.  But right now my biggest dream is to get some of those guys in that room to the big leagues.  


The Double-A Fightin Phils were slated to meet their Triple-A organization mates in the spring's final exhibition game in the evening hours, but the contest was rained out.

Check back in the coming days for more Fightins interviews.
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