Monday, May 21, 2018

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading reliever Trevor Bettencourt

Trevor Bettencourt, image- Jay Floyd
Following a stellar campaign that saw him honored as a Class A All-Star last year, righty reliever Trevor Bettencourt is off to another good start this season.  As a member of the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils, the 23-year-old UC Santa Barbara product sports a 1-0 record with a 3.18 ERA, a .226 batting average against and he has averaged more than a strike out per inning.

Bettencourt, though, has missed time in recent weeks, sidelined with an injury that was announced by team as a shoulder strain.

Recently, I talked with Trevor about the removal of his signature mustache, changes brought on by Gabe Kapler's regime, plus he described some shortcomings this year that could have led to his time on the disabled list.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-You’re sporting a new look of late.  The team wants the ‘stache back.  Do you feel any pressure?
 
It’ll come back quick.  Some people are born with it and I think the mustache is just in my genes.  But, I mean last spring training I shaved it at the end and restarted and I got a lot of pressure this year to not do it and I didn’t do it.  I just felt like it was time to restart, so it’ll be back soon.  It’ll be back in full force for sure.
 
-Do you feel any sort of superstition attached to that, or is it just the look?
 
Uh, both.  You know, it was weird to shave it.  It took me a couple tries.  I picked up the razor a couple times and couldn’t do it.  I was actually in the bathroom and (Zach Coppola) was standing there and he was laughing at me.  He was like, “I feel the same way too.”  It’s just my thing and I had it all last year, so it’s hard enough, thinking of that.
 
-I understand.  Thanks for humoring me with those questions.  How’s the season going?  How do you feel?
 
Not bad.  A little different than last year right now.  Just working on some little mechanical things, some kinks.  I’m not at the same level as I was last year with (velocity) and movement.  But, I definitely feel close, but I’ll keep working and hopefully I can find that thing and make it click. 
 
-Is that typical that it can take some time to fully ramp up and hit your max levels with everything?
 
Last year, I felt pretty good all year.  I had some ups and downs, but it was pretty easy to bounce back.  I had my queues to fix it.  This year is just a little bit different.  Velo’s down a little bit and I’m learning how to pitch a little bit better since that’s down, so I gotta be smarter with my stuff and (pitching coach Steve) Schrenk’s definitely helped me out with that.  I hope it comes back soon, but I feel fine. 
 
-So the silver lining there is you’re improving in other aspects while you’re building the arm strength to get your velocity up.  You’re learning when you’re not as sharp in other aspects.
 
Right.  I mean last year I was really into analyzing everything and studying batters.  But, not having as much velo this year and curve ball’s not as sharp, I have to kind of play a little different.  It’s fun.  It’s fun and different, especially against these Double-A guys.  They have better eyes, so I have to be a little bit smarter.
 
-I talked to a couple guys on this team previously about new analytics being focused on with the new regime.  Have you noticed any differences, changes or upgrades with the info that you get?
 
I’ve noticed against me, some guys taking different approaches than last year, so that’s actually made me have to change my game, but personally, they show me my analytics, my numbers and show me where my strengths are.  I sort of already had an idea about that, but it’s sort of helped me realize what other hitters are going to do against me, so I can try to do the opposite.  It’s gonna be a little uncomfortable for me, but it’s going to be a way for me to get guys out.  So, I think it helps for sure.
 
-Another question about that new regime focus is one of the things Gabe Kapler was known for elsewhere was a dietary focus.  A focus on the foods the players consume.  Have you noticed any changes related to that?
 
Definitely.  They’ve been starting to give us more of kinda Whole Foods stuff.  I enjoy it a lot.  They’re pushing: get all your vitamins through foods, rather than supplements.  I mean, I have no problem with it.  I like eating better and I feel better.  I’m actually on an anti-inflammatory diet right now, so I’m kind of eating like a rabbit and I like it.  It’s awesome.  I like it a lot.
 
-How about the Reading coaching staff this year?  Any thoughts on them and how they’re helping you?
 
Schrenk’s helping us out a lot.  Legger (Greg Legg) is a great manager.  I’d run through a wall for that guy.  Rico (Brogna)’s a new guy and it’s awesome.  He had a postgame speech the other day and it was great.  He keeps it lively and (Kevin) Riggs is another great guy that has a lot of info to learn from.  Even us pitchers, we can learn stuff from a hitting guy.  So, it’s a lot of info to help us and it’s a fun time. 
 
-I know Brogna managed the team recently for a series while Legg was off for personal reasons.  Not asking you to cross any lines and reveal too much, but what was so outstanding about that Rico postgame speech and how was he as the manager?
 
It’s very loose.  It’s, “You’re here?  Get on out there and do your work!”  There’s a lot of trust he has in us, ‘cause he knows we’re going to go out there and work and get our stuff done.  It’s very loose, having fun.  And we were reviewing the series and he talked a little bit about baseball and it was kind of just about keeping us loose for the next series.  So, it was some fun stuff.  It was awesome.
 
-You’re holding back, and I’m not trying to push or anything, but what’s the difference maker in this awesome speech that makes you smile?  Were there vulgarities involved?  Were there extreme levels of energy?
 
Just a lot of energy and you know, if you talk to Rico you know he’s a funny dude and he’s always happy and always positive.  And so we ended up not winning the series and one (game) was rained out, but we had the chance to win all three and Rico was talking about the New Hampshire one as well, our series, and he was talking about him(self) trying to make it to his son’s lacrosse game.  And it was just a good review of the series.  It kind of kept us loose when we went in and we won that game that day.  It was just one of those things, that’s what we needed and he knew that.
 
-Did he make it to the lacrosse game?
 
No, he ended up making it right at the end.  His son scored a goal and everything.  It was awesome.  We were all pumped up and everything, so it was cool.
 
-Do you feel a rivalry with the Yankees teams at all because you play them so much at all these different levels? (the interview was done following a game at Trenton, the Yankees' Double-A affiliate)
 
A little bit.  I’ve already seen some guys from last year that we’ve played against.  So, it’s kind of familiar faces, but honestly, it’s just my second season, so I can’t--
 
-Do you feel it with other teams?  I think Rhys Hoskins and someone else told me before that they felt it more with the Pirates teams. 
 
Yeah, I could see that with the Pirates for sure.  For me, I almost think it’s the Blue Jays, personally, because when I went up to High A, we played them so much.  We play them also in instructs and now we’ve played them a couple times in Double-A.  In spring training we play the Pirates a lot and it’s always really good games.  Especially in spring training because even though it’s not about records, those are always intense games. 
 
-Last thing for you…Trenton often plays comedic songs or music for opposing batters.  Do you guys notice that?
 
We do.  We actually find it kind of funny because we like some of those songs.  So, it’s like, “You messed up, man.  This is a great song!”
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