Before Thursday’s game in Hickory we sat down with BlueClaws IF Stephen Batts, who is batting .342 in August and has spent much of the second half learning a new position, third base, which he hadn’t played since his freshman year at East Carolina.
What adjustments have you been working on at the plate over the last few weeks? Just keeping my hands in a good spot and getting more on my back foot…just trying to square up some balls.
Approach in this series with Hickory, knowing that you could well be back here facing them in the playoffs in two weeks? Trying to…just want to be competitive. That was a tough loss last night but they saw us scrap back a bit at the end. We want to compete and show them we have a good team. The teams in the league know we’re good, but to show it against them from a mindset. This game is all about mind. We want to put it in their heads that we can hit. We have some good starters and we have some good guys coming in out of the pen.
From the mental side, is it more important to have a strong mental approach in this year, a 140 game season, than it was last year when you played 76? I think it is, but you can’t start now and be mentally strong. You have to start in spring training and the first month of the year. Our coaching staff has prepared us for the long season, not just for the first month or the first half. It’s a long year and a big grind on your body and your mind. For me, you might not play for a week then play three weeks straight.
How are you a better player now than in April? Just mentally I guess. Just sticking to a routine and not letting the game override your mind. There are ups and downs. You have to take the bumps and try to compete.
You’re from North Carolina (Greenville), how has it been in this league where you get to make a bunch of trips down to NC…It’s good. My family comes out when they can. A few of my friends will come out. If I played in another league I wouldn’t get to see them in six months. Even though I’m 4.5 hours away from home, it’s good to know that you’re in the same state, a car ride away.
How has the adjustment gone at third base? It’s gone well, but it’s still tough. You’re trying ot get your reps but there are still balls that you haven’t seen. Some backhands, forehands, slow rollers.
Toughest play at third base? Porbably the ball hit hard and right at you. You don’t know to charge it, drop step it, block it. It’s just a matter of getting the reps.
The balance trying to gear up for the playoffs knowing, as you have for two months, that your spot is secure? We’re trying to get some rest, knowing that you’re getting close, but this next homestand we want to compete and come out like it’s a playoff atmosphere. Two games, you could be home. You have to get your body ready to play at a really high level.