InsidethePark.com: Last night you hit an absolute bomb in a big offensive victory for the team. With the team struggling offensively like it has, it must have felt good to win like that.
Matt Hagen: It did feel good. I think things are starting to come around. We just have to keep going out there and working. When things aren’t going well we have to think of the positive.
ITP: Have the offensive struggles become more of a mental thing for you and the team?
MH: I’d like to say it is more mental. We’ve had times this year where we have just been a machine. So if we can do it part of the time, why can’t we do it all of the time? We have guys who can hit, it’s just a matter of us doing it everyday.
ITP: Offensively your power numbers are lower than where they normally are. Playing in San Bernardino, a pitcher’s park doesn’t help much but what do you think has contributed to that?
MH: It’s been more than that. This ball park is big and it does play in as a factor but I’m not going to say that it has been the reason for not producing. I wish I could pick one thing out so say that was what is wrong and fix it. It has been just a combination of things. One of which was my mechanics and the other was to get back to a solid approach everyday instead of changing something.
ITP: Due to some changes on the roster you have had the opportunity to know that you are the starting first baseman everyday. Has that help you at the plate?
MH: Yeah it has. It is hard to play two games in a week. When you feel like you have to get a hit in order to play the next day, you start putting too much pressure on yourself instead of relaxing. I try to tell myself to just think about what to do instead of how you’re doing. If I’m 0-3 and I have one more at-bat, I still have one more at-bat to get something done.
ITP: This season you have been playing most of the time at first base, a position you didn’t play too much last season. How has been the change?
MH: Honestly, I’d rather be playing third. I think it’s more of a challenge to me playing at third. There’s more excitement over there too. First is all right because you get to pick up the infielders on a bad throw. It took me a month to get to where I can feel confident at first.
ITP: With a month-and-a-half left in the season, what would you like to try to accomplish as you finish the season?
MH: I don’t want to throw numbers out there and say that I want to hit .300 for the rest of the season. All I want to do is get back to being a feared hitter. Back to where the pitchers know that if they make a mistake, I’m going to hurt them, where as earlier in the season, I was going to get myself out. I want to get to where the pitchers have to work to get me out, whether that’s by walking more or being more selective with the pitches. If I can do that then the numbers will be there.
ITP: You have been given the title of the third catcher on the team. Talk about that responsibility.
MH: It’s funny because I joke around with Rene (Rivera) and Brian (Lentz) about it. I catch bullpen sessions everyday but in a game I have only caught three innings this year. I’m wearing out my knees. But I take it seriously. It helps me, and who knows, maybe next year I’ll be a number two guy next year.
ITP: I noticed that in college you majored in communications.
MH: Well, I started in it (communications) and moved to sports management. I still think I should have stayed with communications. I didn’t get too far into the course to where I was able to narrow the area of communications. I always thought that if baseball didn’t work out, I would do some type of journalism because I liked writing as a kid.
ITP: Is it something you would consider after your playing career?
MH: I definitely want to stay around the game. If I left I would miss it too much. Whether I move to the sidelines coaching, in the broadcast booth, or as a reporter I don’t know. But I still would want to be around the game.