Transcript of My Interview with Mac Williamson on Blog Talk Radio for Baseball Essential

 

Will: Hey Mac Williamson, how are you? First of all, hey, congratulations on getting a Spring Training invite. That’s fantastic, congratulations to you.

Mac: Thank you very much. I’m looking forward to it a lot.

Will: So how are the workouts going in Arizona right now?

Mac: Everything’s going well. They’ve had a big group of guys here the last three weeks, working out, doing baseball-related stuff. And then we have another group coming in on Monday, so I’ve kind of being able to jump in some groups, do some hitting, throwing, running as well as my lifting, so everything’s going well.

Will: That’s great. Now I know you had Tommy John Surgery in April. Could you just tell fans kinda what that rehab experience was like, and how things are going now?

Mac: Yeah, so I had surgery at the end of April, and I had to wear a kind of brace for about six weeks. I started the range of motion about a week after surgery. Just to kind of get it so it won’t lock up, so it wouldn’t lock up. And then for the first two or three months, they were solely focused on trying to get the range of motion back and strengthen it, real minor strengthening stuff, mainly for the shoulder. And then after about three months, we started a more vigorous strengthening. I was able to start working out. A lot of body weight stuff at first, but I was able to start working out harder and harder obviously as time went on, and then later in the Fall I started throwing in September, beginning of November. I started a throwing program and I started hitting at the end of December. And here I am today.

Will: God, that’s great. Now who are some of the people who kind of helped you along the way to get back on the field?

Mac: The main guy I work with every day is Tony Reali. He’s the organizational therapist. So I’ve worked with him since day one. I worked with him a little bit in Spring Training when I first hurt it, trying to rehab it at first trying to avoid surgery. So I’ve worked with him since day one. In addition to him, several strength coaches have been in and out. You know the Arizona league strength coach obviously were at the complex in Arizona, so the Arizona strength coach, the Arizona league strength coach was here all year until the completion of the season at the beginning of September and then after that, Jeff Head, who was the head minor league strength coordinator worked with me through the Fall and then now since I’ve been back since the new year, and had January camps, so there’s been several different strength coaches around helping to ensure that anything that I need, I have at my disposal.

Will: Well that’s great. It’s so great to hear that there are so many people in your corner there.

Mac: It really is. And mean they’ve been really good. And it’s not just me. It’s for anyone that was injured or is out or who lives here in the off-season, and ensuring that all the players have what they need at any given time to be successful.

Will: Now in 2013, you obviously had a tremendous year with the San Jose Giants, basically led the team in pretty much every category. And so what are you taking away from that season, heading into 2015?

Mac: Well I think the biggest thing to takeaway from that season was my improvement and progression as the season went along. I started off very slow. Made some adjustments, in conjunction with the hitting coach in San Jose, Lipso Nava, the manager Andy Skeels and the minor league hitting coordinator Steve Decker. We all kind of got together as the year went on, just before the All-Star break, started making some changes, which you know we all had to be on board with, because, you know, it’s hard to do that in the middle of the season.  But we were all in agreeance that this needed to be done and you know they really helped me a lot and they were patient with the adjustments and so as the season went on I got better and better and I think the results were indicative of that. And then last year, prior to getting hurt, heading into Spring Training, I really wanted to build upon the adjustments I had made. I made some further adjustments in the off-season to take into the season which obviously I wasn’t able to do because I wasn’t able to play.

So, you know, this year, every year you want to stay healthy, because if you aren’t healthy, you can’t help the team win, you can’t progress and can’t move along. But I think more than anything, this year, it’s important for me to stay healthy on top of building on some of the things that I’ve worked on at the end of the 2013 season as well as some of the things that some of the coaches have helped me with since when I first started hitting one-handed drills in the fall. I couldn’t use my right hand yet, but I could use my left-handed one-handed drills.

And now Andy Skeels is the Triple-A hitting coach, was here for instructional league, and he really took some time out of his day for those thirty days during instructional league to help me change some things, the finite things, that really needed to be changed. And I look forward to continue to work with him. I think he’ll be at Major League camp as well in the beginning of Spring Training. So I look forward to working with him, continuing to work with him, and make the adjustments to be more consistent this year. If I am fortunate enough to be in Richmond. You know, it’s a very tough league to hit in. So consistency is going to be key.

Will: Absolutely, and obviously I think from a fan’s standpoint, you always hear about moves within the— different managers moving around, so it’s actually good to hear that you’ll have a chance to work with Skeels again, because I know he, like you just mentioned, he’s obviously a big influence on your approach at the plate.

Mac: Right

Will: To know that you’ll be part of working with him again, that’ll be great.

Mac: Yeah, I mean he was the manager in San Jose obviously in 2013 and then last year he moved up to Triple-A hitting coach in Fresno and this year obviously he’ll be in Sacramento. And he really knows what he’s doing, so I’m looking forward to hitting with him, as well as Bam Bam and some of the other guys in the organization to try to do the most I can in the little time I have in Spring Training to get ready for the season.

Will: And, what do you take away from the fact that you and Daniel Carbonell are the only Spring Training invites in the outfield, and Bobby Evans said today that during some interviews that he expects you to be fully ready to go. I mean it seems like the organization certainly has your back and supports you, so what does that mean to have that kind of support from your organization?

Mac: Well, it means a lot. You know, coming off a year where I didn’t play, basically at all. It really showed the confidence they have and the hope they have in me as a player. To be able to be the player that they want me to be, in the future. In the near future. I’ve met several players that got the opportunity to go to Major League camp in the past and didn’t have a great season the following season and weren’t invited back. So to be invited back having not played at all is a huge honor. And it speaks volumes to, you know, what they see in me. So I’m very fortunate and very honored and humbled that they want me to come back and they’re willing to let me be out there with all the guys again. And hopefully do well.

Will: So what is maybe specifically, maybe more than one thing to this answer, but what is your main goal for this season besides obviously like any player staying healthy. I know with your surgery, it might be a little bit more so in your case, but besides health, is there any other main goal that you might have going into the season.

Mac: I think the biggest key to being a major league player is being consistent. And in San Jose, I’d have a very good two-week span and a very bad two-week span right after, very up and down. And I think being consistent this year, making the adjustments that I’ve made and will continue to make to my swing will help me be more consistent. They say time and time again when there’s an opening up in the big league club and they ask “who’s going to be able to help them today?” you need to be a guy that’s consistent. They know exactly what they are going to get out of you everyday. And there’s not a guy saying that “well, right now he’s not hitting really well, but two weeks ago he was hitting” So I think that being consistent is the key to the game. And that’s really what I want to focus on is being more consistent and just trying to continue to make the adjustments I’ve made.

Will: And is there maybe one part of your game that you maybe take more pride in than others, maybe be your defense or the way you approach the game at the plate, is there a certain part of your game that you take maybe extra pride in maybe over other things.

Mac: My game all-around, I’m known more for my offensive capabilities than my defensive capabilities. And I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m a great defensive player. But I really do like to surprise people at least before surgery when they’d try to take an extra base or you know. Obviously ego plays a part in it in anybody when a catcher throws out a runner or an outfielder throws out somebody at the plate. That’s something that I really enjoy. Aside from hitting home runs. That’s something that’s really fun to do. I take pride in playing defense the right way and continue to get better because I’m not the best defensive player out there. I was fortunate enough to be in camp last year and work with some of the guys and Angel Pagan took some time out of his day every day to help me get better and I was very happy that he did that for me, because he didn’t have to but I take pride in just doing things the right way defensively and you know, it’s the little things. If you make a mistake in the infield it can cost a base, if you make it in the outfield it can cost you multiple bases. So not necessarily make spectacular plays, but you know make all the routine plays, I think is important.

Will: Yeah, I think in the Giants recent past, even with guys like Pat Burrell or Mike Morse in the outfield, I mean it’s the success they had out there is usually based more about the angle to take to the ball than the speed. And so being able to improve your defense doesn’t always have to be athletically, obviously. Obviously that’s an important part of the game.

Mac: Right

Will: Is there a player in the league right now you feel has a similar game to you? Obviously, I had an opportunity to see you many times in San Jose, but a lot of fans aren’t familiar with you live, is there a player that maybe you would compare yourself similarly to? Or maybe someone you try to pattern your game after?

Mac: I don’t necessarily think that. I mean, Again, I obviously hear people compare you to people. You know, I can’t sit here as a minor league guy who hasn’t played a game in Double-A yet and say confidently that I look like Albert Pujols or I look like Matt Holliday. Or something like that.

I mean, they’re generous comparisons, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t necessarily follow my game after anybody. I think that everybody’s game is unique and they play the game their own way.  And, you know, I’d just liked to be consistent. I mean, Matt Holliday, if you look back at what he did in the minor leagues, he struggled a little bit there, early on in A ball. I think he repeated High maybe one year. So he struggled and made the adjustments that he needed to make to become a Major League superstar.

I think my build is very similar to his. I’d like to say that my game yields itself to be very similar to his, but, you know like I said, it would be unfair for me to compare myself to him, because there’s a reason he’s making a lot of money.

Will: That’s impressive on your part to be so humble.

Now is there maybe a baseball idol you had growing up? Maybe someone who you looked up to maybe when you were younger kid and maybe a favorite team?

Mac: Yeah, so I’m from North Carolina and obviously there’s no major league club in North Carolina so you’re a Nationals fan or you’re a Braves fan. And I grew up a Braves fan and I grew up in the Sheffield, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Rafael Furcal, that whole group. And Andruw Jones, I’m sorry, I mean Chipper Jones was always the, you know, country boy, could hit anything and play big defense, kind of the all-around player. So I enjoyed watching him. I think ’cause they were the most covered team around me. I think TBS covered their games all the time. I kind of watched him the most.

Will: A couple more questions for you. I really appreciate you taking the time here.

Mac: No, yeah absolutely.

Will: What would you say is maybe your best baseball moment in the pros so far? Something that maybe sticks out in your mind.

Mac: I would like to have said winning the Cal League championship in 2013 but the Angels affiliate really put a number on us there and we were unable to close it out but I think obviously being invited to Major League camp as a Non-Roster guy is definitely an accomplishment. I think being an everyday player. I mean, not everyone gets to play professional baseball and I think being an everyday player in San Jose was pretty cool. I mean, at one point I played 99 straight games and which doesn’t sound like a lot when you compare it to Cal Ripken Jr.’s record, but it’s a lot of games in a row, especially when you have only two off days a month, three off days a month at the most. I think that might be my most, my best accomplishment, just because I’m honored to be able to play every day and it’s something that’s not easy to do. You know, injuries and you know just pure bad luck and you’re out for a week or two weeks or something like that. So that’s probably my greatest accomplishment.

Will: That’s great and then just kind of last question for you here, you know, let’s just hope that there’s some kids listening and if there’s a guy who’s thinking about little league, playing, maybe has the same dream as you of playing in the Major Leagues someday, what advice, if any, would you give to that kid that’s listening right now?

Mac: I think that there’s a few things I would say.

First and foremost, don’t limit yourself to one sport. Or one position too soon.  I think it’s important to play multiple sports. I don’t think it’s necessarily good to play one particular sport your entire life and never diversify your talents and you can grow old of the sport. I mean, if you’ve been playing baseball since you were five and you’re eighteen heading into college, you’ve been playing for thirteen years, I mean, the chances of you burning out and not loving it, I mean I’ve seen it time and time again. I think it’s important to play as many sports as you can.

And then within baseball, I think it’s important to play as many positions as you can. And not settle on just one. I mean, I was a catcher, I played a little bit of third base all my life. I never really played outfield at all. And then I got to college and played outfield. And here I am in the pro ball playing outfield. Something that I never really did when I was growing up. So, I think it’s important to play all the positions.

And I think it’s important to have fun as a kid and play it as a game and not take it too seriously. I mean there’s travel teams that are eight years old, something like that. I mean I think it’s important for the parents to realize it’s just a game. It’s not life or death if the kid doesn’t play well. I mean, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen parents get pissed because their kids are eight years old and had a bad game. They missed a ball in the field or something like that, I mean you can’t do that to the kids.

I think it’s important to work hard and once you’re heading into middle school/high school age, to know what you want to do. To have goals, set goals and not just let yourself wonder and not pay attention to school, not pay attention to your sport. And so it’s too much. I think there’s a fine line between visualizing and getting yourself to the sport. Or whatever sport you’re playing, multiple sports. And if you do that the right way and split your time up the right way, you’re going to be successful in whatever you do.

Will: That’s great. Well I really appreciate you taking the time like I said and wish you nothing but the best of luck in camp and hopefully you’ll be able to stay healthy through this year and hopefully will see a lot of in the coming years. I know you said Richmond, but who knows, maybe in a couple of years, we’ll see you at AT&T wearing orange and black. So, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Mac: That’s alright. Thank you very much for having me on.

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