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Vito Chiaravalloti is a favourite of Da Box since his triple crown win at Auburn in his first pro season in 2003. 2004 was an up and down season for Vito, he struggled in April and in August, but he was strong in the middle of the season and in the AFL. I sat down to talk with Vito recently recently when the Fisher Cats were in Binghamton. The first item on my agenda was to make sure I was pronouncing his name properly. Vito told me his family pronounces their last name with a "che" sound at the start, like cherry, but a "kee" sound, like Chianti, is the correct italian way.

I started by asking Vito about his swimming background, how good was he? "I started at age 5, locally, and started getting competitive at 8 or 9 years old at regional meets. I made Nationals in the eighth grade, competed down in Fort Lauderdale, and I kept going at a national level right through the end of high school. I was national champion in the 100 metre backstroke in my senior year of high school." So could the Jays have missed out on Vito if he pursued a swimming scholarship? "It was baseball all the way for me. I had scholarship offers from Stanford and some ACC schools but I knew all along I wanted to play baseball, I never really wanted to pursue swimming after high school, in college it would be very difficult to do both."

Vito had a slow start to 2004 and had some elbow problems. "I had surgery the previous October (2003). I had problems with my elbow in college for two years and I didn't do anything about it because of the draft, I didn't want to be considered damaged goods. So I didn't do anything about it, I would take Advil before the games and do treatment every night on it. As soon as I was drafted I told the Jays about it and they x-rayed it and said we need to take care of this. So at the end of instructional league in 2003 Dr. Mirabelli removed bone spurs and bone chips. Right away I felt better and I started rehab but at the start of spring training I had a little setback so they shut me down and I went on another throwing program and I had to DH the first 30 days of the season."

The other down part of Vito's 2004 was in August when his hitting numbers dropped, I wondered what happened then? "I was doing really well before that, I was on a hot streak, and I was gearing up for a big month (of August) and I think it was a combination of things. First it was my first professional long season and I learned a lot about conditioning and handling yourself over a full 140 game season. It is also very hot in Florida and I think that I wasn't prepared for it and I ran out of gas. It was also a case of me putting pressure on myself. I don't look at my numbers a lot but I remember looking around August 1 and I was hitting .300 or .298 or somewhere around there, and I thought I have to make a push here to finish over .300. I think I changed my approach and combined with the conditioning, I think I just put too much pressure on myself. I do think I changed my approach at the end of last year."

Vito was one of the youngest players in the Arizona Fall League in October last year. "I knew it was a great opportunity and I tried not to put pressure on myself. I didn't know how much I was going to play and I wound up playing a lot. I just went out to play with no pressure and I got back onto my approach and it was a success and a learning experience. I learned a lot about myself and last year was a great year."

So what does Vito want to accomplish in 2005? "The first thing I want to do is work on my defence. Even if I am not hitting I can help the team win with my defence, even if you have an 0-4 night you can help the team with your glove. Offensively I want to work on my approach, I want to be consistent. In Auburn I felt I had the same approach every day, last year there were too many peaks and valleys, the same in college. I just want to stay within myself and not do too much."

Vito acted on that in Binghamton. Following our chat Vito hit two doubles in that nights game, and he added two more doubles two games later. We wish Vito the best in 2005.

Fisher Cat Notes

Raul Tablado is originally from New York and his family moved to Miami when he was eight. Tablado's objective for 2005 is "to keep the same approach as last year, to have a consistent swing whether I had a good day that day or not. In 2004 my timing was good and as I said my swing was consistent. I was hitting up the middle and the other way." Tablado enjoyed his time in the big league camp at spring training. "I had 15 at bats and it was good, I got a hit off Pavano, he threw me a splitter and I hit it down the line and it went off the bag for a base hit."

Carlo Cota is the Menechino sized second baseman from Calexico Calif, which Cota told me is an hour and a half east of San Diego, in the California desert. Cota is getting used to the New Hampshire spring weather. "Before spring training I went to New York to visit a cousin, and that was when I experienced cold weather for the first time, but you can't wear a heavy coat when you are playing ball." I asked Cota about 2004 when Ryan Roberts was promoted to Dunedin and Cota was moved from second base to third base. "I was happy in a way, second is my position but it gave me a chance to prove to myself and the organization that I can play another position and I think I played it well. It was a blessing in ways, I have played shortstop too."

Ron Davenport's given name is Ulyses, a name he inherited from his dad, Ron is a junior. Ron is one of the last high school players in the organization. Davenport first arrived in Dunedin in 2002 but had a setback. "When I got to Dunedin at age 20 I had a bad accident, I was hit in the face and it broke my jaw, and I was out for two months. Coming back was real tough, I was hit by a lefty (Davenport hits left also), so it was mind over matter getting back in there and staying in the box."

Davenport took a big jump ahead in 2004. "In the off-season I hired a personal trainer, that got me more disciplined. Some of it is age, I learned to get my foot down early and to be more selective and the parks are bigger so the doubles came from that." Davenport is getting used to AA. "The pitchers appear to be more around the plate. Balls are easy to take in the FSL, here they are around the plate so there are more borderline pitches."

Catching up with Vito Chiaravalloti and the Fisher Cat Hitters | 3 comments | Create New Account
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Andrew K - Monday, April 25 2005 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#113512) #
Bravo. It's great to get to know these guys, a bit, from little personal interviews.
Pistol - Monday, April 25 2005 @ 03:19 PM EDT (#113519) #
Nice job Gerry.
CeeBee - Monday, April 25 2005 @ 08:33 PM EDT (#113590) #
Thanks for the pictures and interviews. It's great to hear about the guys further down in the system. :)
Catching up with Vito Chiaravalloti and the Fisher Cat Hitters | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.