Nelson, Flanked by Castro and Hagen (Photo: M's)
InsidethePark.com's Jonathan Bianchet sat down and threw a few question at 66ers outfielder Jon Nelson. Check out the Q & A to find out why Nelson doesn't like hot dogs or cement ceilings.
InsidethePark.com: The difference for you this season at the plate is that you are hitting for a much better average. Last year you hit .264. This season you’re hovering around the .300 mark. What has been the adjustment?
Jon Nelson: I have said it over and over, and that is just recognizing the pitches earlier. It has helped me to lay off some pitches that I would have swung at in the past. Also, I have been getting more and more at bats in the minor leagues and have been seeing more and more pitches. Because of it I am able to learn the spin on the baseball and can recognize what I can hit hard and what I can’t hit at all.
ITP: As a team, you guys have been playing around .500 much of the last two months. How do you think the season has gone and can you get past a tough Lancaster team?
JN: We’ve played pretty well. We definitely can’t make errors, especially in Lancaster because up there, one error can lead to a big inning. Our defense has played strong this year and I really think we can put a big streak of eight or nine games together and get on our way.
ITP: Who has been the toughest pitcher you have had to face this year?
JN: Rancho Cucamonga’s Joe Saunders spotted up against us. The way he pitched to me is something that sticks out in my mind. However, I try not to give too much credit to an opposing pitcher.
ITP: What has it been like to see some of your teammates move up to the next level and succeed?
JN: That’s what we all want. It’s awesome to see and we are all excited to hear that they are doing well. We’ve played together for close to three years and that is what we are all trying to do.
ITP: What’s the best way to describe Felix Hernandez?
JN: Confidence. The kid is just very confident. Someone who is that talented and that confident in his abilities is a deadly combination.
ITP: We all know what Hernandez is like on the mound. What about off the field?
JN: He’s still young and he just likes to have fun in the clubhouse. He is still clownish and plays around with people but that is a good balance for him. He goes on the field and does his thing then comes into the clubhouse, kicks back and has fun.
ITP:Can you remember the first Major League Baseball game you ever attended?
JN:I was very young and my brothers and I were visiting our uncle in Newport Beach (CA) and he took us to a Dodgers game at Dodgers Stadium. It was pretty sweet. I think I’d remember the game but unfortunately I remember I ate about six Dodger dogs and got so sick that night. I’ll never forget it, that night ruined hotdogs for me. I can’t stand them now.
ITP: What drew you to baseball?
JN: It was one of those things where my parents signed me up for little league and I had fun playing it. I kept on having fun playing with my buddies and it was when I was a freshman in high school were I grew a passion for it. Ever since I was a kid, it has always been one thing I’ve always wanted to do.
ITP: What was been your favorite baseball memory?
JN: Something that sticks in my mind was a little league game. I was 10-years-old and in an all-star game, playing in the championship game in Utah. If we won we would go to California. It was the bottom of the sixth in a sixth inning game and I was up with a full count. I remember stepping out of the batters box and my dad was right there, who was a coach for the team. I told him we were going to California. I got back in the box and crushed the ball. I was floating all around the bases. When I came in the dug out I jumped out of excitement and hit my head on the cement ceiling. Little league baseball is where it all is.
ITP: If you weren’t in baseball, what would you be doing?
JN: It would have to be something active. I have a lot of friend who are personal trainers. Something like that would interest me. Obvious another sport, but it would have to be something active and athletic.