The Seattle Mariners had their annual FanFest celebration this past weekend, and a lot of the top talent from throughout the organization was on hand to take questions from fans and sign autographs.
One of the team's top prospects -- third baseman/outfielder Vinnie Catricala -- took some time to answer a few questions for SeattleClubhouse about his explosive year at the plate in 2011 and what he is doing to prepare for 2012 as he gets set to head to big league Spring Training.
SeattleClubhouse: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me again, Vinnie.
Vinnie Catricala: Good to meet you face to face and glad to do it again.
SC: Obviously we talked last season after your year had wrapped up. How have things been going this offseason?
VC: My focus has just been getting healthy, getting my body back to 100% and getting fully prepared for 2012.
SC: Now that you have put up a monster season and aren't going to sneak up on anyone any more, what changes, if any, are you making to your approach?
VC: None whatsoever. My approach has been the same since I got to professional baseball. I had to adjust to the better, faster pitching once I got out of college, but I've had my consistent approach pretty much since day one. I've made minor tweaks here and there, but I'm not going to Spring Training and not playing to my strengths. I know myself as a ballplayer and I'm going to stick with the approach I've been using the entire time I've been a pro.
SC: How do you prepare mentally for your next season when you're coming off a year where you hit .349/.421/.601? Do you think you'll feel any added pressure to perform this year?
VC: Obviously I'll be expected to perform well, but I'll have the same mentality that I've always had. Being a 10th round draft pick, some people are surprised that I'm at this point, but I have the attitude that I have nothing to lose. I'm going to leave it all out there on the field and whatever happens, happens.
SC: I think I know the answer to this, but do you consider yourself a power hitter yet?
VC: I honestly think I never will. I'm not out there to try and hit home runs. A lot of power guys are your "all or nothing" types that can hit the ball a long way but maybe strike out a lot. I hate striking out. If I can keep my strikeouts as low as I can, I'm happy. I see myself as a gap-to-gap hitter, but every now and then you run into one and it goes out, so that's the kind of approach I've had for the last three years and I'm going to stick with that.
SC: One new aspect of your game that we talked about last season is the defensive side of things. Being that you are expected to get a fair amount of outfield time in 2012, did you alter your training or diet at all with a focus on quickness or speed?
VC: Yes, a little bit. Last year I came into spring about 228 or 230 pounds, this year I'm at about 224. I've really been working on footwork and quick-burst speed so, if I'm out in the outfield, I can track balls down. But I still have that strength aspect. I haven't sacrificed too much of that. I'm about five pounds lighter, but still quick, still strong, just a little more mobile.
SC: Now for a non-baseball question: Have you recovered yet from the 49ers loss last week?
VC: (laughs) Oh my gosh. You know, Casper (Wells) and I were talking. He's a big Giants fan and he asked me, "who are you rooting for", and I told him I don't even know if I'll watch. It was heartbreaking. Really unfortunate.
SC: Finally, how happy are you to have a big league invite to Spring Training for 2012?
VC: I was really, really excited. I was ecstatic. I was kind of waiting around and wrapping up with my trainer -- not necessarily standing by my phone type of thing -- but people kept asking me when I was leaving, and once I finally got the call it set my mind right and gave me a date to go so I said, "let's go!". But I was really happy, and my family, too.
SC: I appreciate the time, Vinnie. Good to meet you, and best of luck in 2012.
VC: Thanks so much.