June 4, 2008 June 4, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
LeCroy Talks Lancaster: During Lancaster’s recent trip to Somerset, I had a chance to sit down with Barnstormers DH Matt LeCroy for a few minutes.
Let’s review our respective career paths, shall we…
LeCroy: Born on December 13th
Ashmore: Born on December 13th
LeCroy: Drafted in 1st round by Twins in 1997
Ashmore: Announces retirement in 1995 after a solid Little League career. Comeback attempt in 2006 is unsuccessful
LeCroy: Played in 17 Atlantic League games
Ashmore: Covered 330 Atlantic League games
LeCroy: Played in 476 Major League games
Ashmore: Covered 12 Major League games
Clearly, someone made some questionable choices somewhere, and it wasn’t LeCroy. But anyway, here’s my sitdown chat with the former Minnesota Twins and Washington Nationals backstop.
AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com: You spent parts of eight seasons in the big leagues. What were some of your fondest memories from being up there?
Matt LeCroy: “Well, for me, it was playing in the playoffs in Yankee Stadium two years in a row and also in ’02, playing in the ALCS against Anaheim. That definitely was the highlight of playing in the major leagues.
ALB: Most people remember you as a Minnesota Twin, but you were briefly with the Washington Nationals as well. Things didn’t really seem to end the way you would have wanted them to there…
LeCroy: “That’s just part of it. I was a bench player, and we didn’t have a DH, so there were limited at-bats. That’s baseball, and you’ve got to be able to work through it and hope somebody gives you another chance.”
ALB: Well, I can remember seeing on Sportscenter that during your last game, you were fighting through injuries and they asked you to catch anyway, and you made a couple of errors and they took you out of the game…
LeCroy: “Well, I stayed around for a couple more weeks after that. But things happen. I ended up signing back with them during the season after they released me, but then I broke my wrist. But I enjoyed my time there. We didn’t have a good team, that was no fun, but the guys were good.”
ALB: So tell me about your experience in Lancaster — what were your expectations going into this season, and what has it actually been like compared to those expectations?
LeCroy: “Coming here…I had an opportunity to go to Triple-A with Oakland, but the playing time just wasn’t going to be enough. Here, I’d get the opportunity to play every day and DH and possibly play some first. There was an opportunity for me to continue playing on an everyday basis here. I was surprised, the stadiums here are nice. The fan support is good, and the talent level is good. It’s a lot better than I thought it was going to be.”
ALB: I would imagine that a lot of people would think that you would have more value to an affiliated team as a catcher. Are you looking to get back behind the plate this season?
LeCroy: “Well, I caught all of spring training with Oakland in big league camp. They wanted me to catch, and I’m still open to it. But we’ve got two pretty good catchers here. If something happens, I’m sure I’d have to go back there and catch. But obviously, catching gives you a chance to get back to the big leagues, especially if you can hit a little bit. They can throw you in there every now and then to fill a spot, it helps out.”
ALB: You’ve been battling a shoulder injury lately, tell me about that…
LeCroy: “I feel good. I wish we were winning more games, but I came up with a shoulder injury that’s been limiting my playing time, and I’m just trying to get through it. Some things, you’ve just got to battle through them, and this is one of those things.”
ALB: If you looked at the Barnstormers on paper at the beginning of the season, they looked pretty good. But on the field, the results haven’t been there. As one of the veteran guys on the team, what’s your assessment of what’s going on?
LeCroy: “I don’t know. We’ve lost a lot of one run ballgames. It’s amazing, I’ve never really lost that many in a row where we’ve lost by one run. We’ve got a good team, we’ve got a good group of guys. We just haven’t been able to close many games out. It’s early, but at the same time, we’ve got to have a sense of let’s go and start closing these games out. Once you start doing that, you start taking the pressure off of guys. I think our team’s playing a little tight right now, but hopefully me being around, and Von and Rick, guys who’ve played in the big leagues, hopefully it creates some looseness and hopefully we can get out of it.”
ALB: Do some of the guys on the team try to pick your brain about stuff considering the level of experience that you do have?
LeCroy: “Yeah, they’ll ask me about stuff. A lot of these guys haven’t played above Double-A. But I enjoy it. This game is the same, and I enjoy talking to guys about it. When you’ve got Rick, who played 18 years in the big leagues, and Von, who played 12, and Boots who played like six, there’s a lot of experience here. When you start getting into independent ball, it gets harder to make it to the big leagues. Hopefully you can share something that will maybe help them out.”
ALB: I think a lot of people would find your decision to turn down the Triple-A offer interesting. Looking back on it, do you still feel like that was the right move?
LeCroy: “Nah, because of what they told me. They were going to release me on the 18th of March, they didn’t really have a spot for me in Triple-A. But they had a guy who was hurt and coming off an injury, who they need to catch one day and (have) off two. So they needed an extra emergency catcher there, but as soon as he got ready they would just release me. So I thought it would be best to start playing with the Barnstormers. If somebody needed a right-handed hitter or catcher in Triple-A, it wouldn’t be a problem.”
ALB: Sending out the bullpen guy to start and the starter to relieve…you ever see anything like that before?
LeCroy: “I have a couple times, but not for the reason why we’re doing it. He’s just trying to change it up. I can understand that as far as a manager. This league is all about winning, it’s sort of similar to the big leagues, you do whatever you can. Naturally, I’ve never seen it like this, but hopefully it can change our team around.
ALB: As far as managing goes, you’ve received some offers in the past to go into coaching. How close do you feel like you are to doing something like that?
LeCroy: “Well, we’ll just see how the year goes and if I can get in a groove or if I can get over this injury and put up some numbers, maybe I’ll continue to play. If not, I’m fine with starting a managing career. I’ve learned a lot from people that I’ve been around, and picking brains from all the managers I’ve been around. It would be a fun job, I’d like to stay in the game. I love professional baseball. We’ll see what happens.”
ALB: Who was the manager you’d say you learned the most from?
LeCroy: “I had a combination of actually three that really showed me a lot. The first was Tom Kelly, who was my first manager. And then Gardy (Ron Gardenhire), who I’d had for the past couple of years. Then I had a guy by the name of John Russell, he was the manager of the Pirates, he was our Triple-A manager for a couple years. Just watching his demeanor, and watching how he treated players and how he let them do their thing and gained respect from people. To me, I learned a lot from that.”
ALB: You know, you’re one of only a handful of big leaguers who I’m lucky enough to share a birthday with…
LeCroy: “(Laughs) The only thing I hate about being born then, is they try to treat the gifts the same with Christmas and birthday, so that isn’t good.”
Halama Signs With Indians: According to a source, the Cleveland Indians have signed Southern Maryland P John Halama.
Halama, who spent all of 2007 with the Long Island Ducks without getting picked up, has extensive Major League experience, and seemed to be putting it all together this year.
He was 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his first eight starts, including a recent complete game shutout.
No word on where he was assigned, but I’d assume either Double-A Akron, or most likely Triple-A Buffalo.
Castillo to Ducks: Another source reports that former Bluefish, Bears and Road Warriors P Carlos Castillo is set to be added by the Ducks.
Castillo, a former Major Leaguer, was recently released by Bridgeport in a pitching purge that also saw Garrett Berger and Chris Eickhorst let go.
His release was somewhat of a surprise, and he could be a good fit for the Ducks. Right now, they’re just looking for someone who can eat some innings, and he’s proven to be a pretty durable guy. – Mike Ashmore