|Gary Jones, image- Jay Floyd
Last week I sat down with Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Gary Jones to talk about some of his team's players. Below are some excerpts from my chat with him in which he discusses backstop Deivy Grullon, lefty starting pitcher Damon Jones, infielder/outfielder Austin Listi and more.
-Deivy Grullon has been a key contributor for the 'Pigs this year. An All-Star for you guys. What have you seen from Deivy this year?
I mean Deivy’s doing a good job. He’s working his tail off every day. He’s improving behind the plate. The relationship with the pitchers is good. He goes out on a daily basis and those guys work and talk about the game plan, so he’s getting better and he’s doing what all these guys are doing. They’re here developing a skill (set) and coming to work every day and trying to get better as an individual. Trying to reach the ultimate goal of playing at the major league level. But Deivy, he's right on track and he’s doing a great job.
-Damon Jones is a new addition to the pitching staff. He's started to grab some attention this year. Thoughts on Damon?
He’s learning. He’s kind of made the jump to Triple-A fairly quickly. And I think, you know, at this level you come across mature hitters. Hitters that have been playing in the game quite a while and so you know you have to know how to attack those guys. You can’t fall into patterns and you mainly have to locate pitches. Today it was a positive day for him. He gave up a three-run homer on a breaking ball, but other than that I thought he battled and I thought he did a nice job.
-Austin Listi has really turned it on here after having a tough time getting things going in Double-A. How does he stand out compared to other guys for you?
Again, all these guys are in the same situation. All these guys are young guys, coming up, first time in Triple-A. Again, you know, playing against guys that have had Major League experience and have had a lot of Major League experience and, you know, it’s just a matter of guys understanding and toning their skill. You know, staying in your circle and not trying to do too much. Understanding who you are as a player, who you are as a hitter and that kind of thing. And understand what the pitcher’s trying to do, what the situation calls for and that stuff goes into the equation. And guys only get better at it by getting (at bats). You know, there’s a—I think there’s a stat or something that says, “Before a hitter can graduate and be a good hitter at the Major League level, you average minor leaguer has about 1,500 at bats in the minor leagues, so it’s always a work in progress. And you have to remember, the greatest hitters of all time fail 70-percent of the time. So, you know, this game, as hitters, a lot of times, is built around failure and you’ve got to be able to handle that. So, these guys are, like I said, they’re up here learning. They’re playing against older guys. And these are young players that are trying to make the jump and it’s all a development situation for them and a learning situation for them.
-I talked with J.D. Hammer just about 10 minutes after the game ended and he told me he'd already watched video of his outing, did his arm care. That struck me as pretty fast. Is that a normal for a guy to have so much done, so quickly?
Everybody has their own routine, so it’s different for everybody. I can’t tell you what’s normal for each individual. Everybody has their own routine on the way they handle stuff; success, failure. So, everybody’s got their own routine.