Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine

Clayton McCullough is manager of the Dunedin Jays, that is your first place Dunedin Jays.  McCullough was manager of the Lansing Lugnuts in 2008 and 2009.  Recently I spoke with McCullough over the phone from Florida to check on some of his players.

BB: I want to start by asking you about Henderson Alvarez.  In three quarters of his starts he has looked really good but in two or three of them he has been hit around.  What has been the difference between them?

CM: Like many young guys Henderson, if he gets through the lineup OK the first time through, or the first few innings, he relaxes.  In the games where he has struggled a little bit he has been hit around early, and then he gets out of his delivery, he tries to overthrow and gets caught up in the moment like most young pitchers do.  It's just a work-in-process for Henderson to learn that things like that are going to happen.  Sometimes teams are going to come out early and get hits off you but you have to stay in the game and keep your team in there.  It's a learning curve for him this season, facing some better competition and adjusting to this league.  But overall he has had a very good year, he has had a few hiccups but thats a good thing, those are things he can learn from.

BB: You managed him last year, I assume his pitches have become better since last season.

CM: Yes, his velocity has gotten better, he is throwing harder, his breaking ball is better than it was this point last season.  He still has a good change-up.  With Henderson it's just him trusting that he needs to pitch to contact and now at a higher level you need to pitch inside more, and watch the hitters more, reading what they are doing and not just throw the pitch you want to throw.

BB: On his fastball I have seen different reports on its velocity, where does he sit normally?

CM: This year he has been in the 93-94 range.

BB: Another one of your starters is Joel Carreno who you also had last season.  Last year he was more of a bullpen pitcher, this year he is having success as a starter.  What is the difference in him between this year and last?

CM: Carreno is a good competitor, when he takes the ball he wants to win.  He has gotten better from start to start.  He is another guy, first year at this level, having to adjust to the hitters, he has done great for us.  He is learning to trust his fastball and to pitch off it a little bit more than he has in the past.  Use his breaking ball when he needs a big out.

BB: Chuck Huggins, again what is the difference between him in 2009 and 2010?

CM: Chuck worked hard with Darold on his mechanics and keeping the ball down.  He knows he has to move the ball in and out and he has come up with a little cutter that he uses to get in on right handed hitters some.  That helps make his change-up better because he has a very good change-up.  He has a good curveball and it works better for him when he doesn't have to show it too much.  Chuck is a very smart guy and he is just starting to realize what kind of pitcher he is and he has to move his fastball in and out and with the cut fastball and the change-up it keeps the hitters honest.

BB: Alan Farina got off to a slow start but over the last month has probably been the best guy out of the bullpen for you. 

CM: Alan has been steady for us, he really has.  We have been using him in a late inning role.  He is in a groove right now, he is probably commanding his fastball and breaking stuff as good as he ever has in his career.  Alan has always had good stuff, it is just a matter of him being able to throw enough quality pitches in the strike zone.

BB: Is his slider his main breaking ball?

CM: Yes his slider and a cut fastball.  He has a couple of breaking balls and he has been able to hit with them in the strike zone and he has been able to expand the strike zone when he gets ahead and get them to chase.

BB: Travis d'Arnaud is a new guy to the organization.  What have you seen in him so far?

CM: Travis is a very good player, he came as advertised.  He has a very good hitting approach for a young guy, he is very athletic, he has a chance to be a very good catcher, he has all the tools, he has arm strength, he is athletic, he likes to catch, he works well with the pitchers.  And offensively he has a very good swing, he has a good approach, rarely does Travis expand the strike zone.  He gets a pitch in his zone and he is ready to hit it.  Travis can do a lot of things, he is a good baserunner, he is a heady player, he elevates his team mates game around him.

BB: Tyler Pastornicky is another player who you had last year and this.  Is he the same player, has he changed much from last year?

CM: Not a whole lot and for a kid that is 20 years old in this league he is more than holding his own.  He made the all-star team.  Tyler is a tough kid, that is probably his main attribute, he is a tough out, he is a tough kid, he wants to win.  Offensively he is a good player, he has a short swing, he slashes the ball all around, puts together a good at-bat, he can run.  Tyler continues to get better, he is a much better player this year than he was last year, his average is about the same but he has a lot of doubles, he is stealing some bases, he is on the right track.

BB: He started off the year as your shortstop but now is playing second base.  Is one of those his best position?

CM: He was doing fine at shortstop, it was early, he was still adjusting to playing a different level at that position.  He has handled his move to second base very well.  He and Hechavarria have formed a nice combination in the middle of the infield for us.  When Adeiny got here and Tyler moved to second our defense was really shored up and we started to win some games.  Tyler has handled the move well and it is good for him because who knows where you will end up down the road.The more versatility you have the better.

BB: Mike McDade is picking it up recently, what has he learned?

CM: For these guys the first 20-25 games in a new league is a time to adjust and they need to prove to themselves that they belong and once Mike got going he has been swinging the bat great.  He has hit for power, his at-bats have gotten a lot better and he has been tremendous at first base, he has saved our infielders a lot of errors with his work around the bag.  But certainly his calling card will be how well he swings the bat.  Right now he has been able to do a lot of damage in the middle of the lineup.

BB: One guy who came out of nowhere and helped you a lot when d'Arnaud was hurt is Yan Gomes.  What kind of player is he?

CM: Yan was only drafted last year so to come to this level and make the all-star team is great.  Early in the season he was splitting time with Travis and DH'ing as well and when Travis got hurt he stepped in for us.  Yan has been swinging the bat well, he is a strong kid, he can put together a good at-bat for you.  He does a good job with the pitchers considering he hasn't caught much professionally, he has thrown well and he is getting better and better behind the plate.  Yan is going to be a very good player, kind of a sleeper, you don't hear much about him.

BB: Finally Hechavarria.  By all accounts he is a polished player, what does he have to do to get to AA?

CM: Right now it's just to play games, but he is close.  He has done a great job here considering the whole signing deal and having to get into playing shape.  From his first game he has handled himself very well at shortstop, he has handled all the routine plays as well as some extraordinary ones with his athleticism and his ability to throw on the run and using his quickness.  Offensively he has been fine, he doesn't have that many at-bats, maybe 100 at-bats.  Offensively he will continue to get better, he is a good runner.  He is a young guy that needs to play more games and he will continue to get better and better.

BB: One thing I noticed is that he is a not a big walker, does he need to learn strike zone command a bit better?

CM: You could say that about a lot of guys but when guys are comfortable hitting, trust their swing, then you can start looking at that.  Down the road that stuff will take care of itself.  Right now he wants to show he can hit, he wants to show he is worth all the talk and all the money he got.  As he gets more comfortable over here with the organization and just playing baseball I think those things will just come naturally.


Batters Box thanks Clayton McCullough for his time.

An Interview with Clayton McCullogh - June 2010 | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
jgadfly - Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#216747) #

Gerry,   again thanks for another great informative interview.

AA mentioned early on that the Jays were going to create a positive 'winning' 'championship' environment/experience of excellence (rada rada rada ...) .  Any scuttlebutt as to which teams they are hoping to see experience the playoffs and what promotions that may be afoot to make this happen ?     

Gerry - Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 04:21 PM EDT (#216749) #

No scuttlebutt.  The Jays are tight-lipped about those things and in many cases there is no master plan.  Often teams will look around at this time of the year, when new players are coming in from the draft, and say do we need to move a few players up?  Remember that Dunedin and Lansing are in a playoff push and their first-half seasons have a week or so to go.  If the Jays do want to promote some players they can fill in from below with drafted players.

This year I cannot say that there are a lot of players who are banging down the promotion door.  Who would be looking for a promotion?  Some of the relievers could look for a promotion, Magnuson, maybe Collins, Farina, etc.  I still think that the Jays will wait for either an injury or for the trade deadline before shuffling their pitchers.

Some of the catchers are playing well, but again I would assume that the trade deadline might create an opening for a catcher in Toronto and ripple through the organization.  A month at a new level will set a player up for the following season.

Finally Shawn Bowman and Adam Loewen could hope for a promotion but both had slow starts and the Jays might look for a little more time at this performance level before promoting them.

jgadfly - Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 05:22 PM EDT (#216758) #
  Any updated info on Jackson and Sierra injuries or estimated dates of return ?
Mylegacy - Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 06:05 PM EDT (#216761) #
Gerry - when I first came to this site - I think it was in 1763 (I'm older than most people think) - one of the things that convinced me to make it my "Home Page" so that I came here every day before I went anywhere else, was this kind of "inside" chat with a Jays Manager or Coach.

Gerry - very, very much appreciated!

Gerry - Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#216765) #
Thanks myLegacy, those are very kind words.
Mylegacy - Wednesday, June 09 2010 @ 08:20 PM EDT (#216769) #
You're welcome Gerry - you deserve it!

By the way, it's capital "M" small "l" - not that I'll quibble.

Sincerely, Mylegacy

China fan - Thursday, June 10 2010 @ 11:24 AM EDT (#216794) #

Mylegacy, now that you've explained the spelling of your handle, can you explain what it means?

Mylegacy - Thursday, June 10 2010 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#216827) #
China fan, remember - you asked.

The males in my family die young. My grandfather and father both died at 49 and my older brother died at 48 - all of heart disease. Not surprisingly - I'm somewhat heath conscious. About 7 years ago my friend started me on an immune product called "Immune 26" (it's now called i-26) it was marketed by a company called Legacy For Life. I love the stuff and was telling another friend one day that i-26 was helping me so much I should call it: "My legacy." The moniker stuck.

The good news is I'm 63 - 64 in July and still as healthy and randy as a non-rabid badger.

Time for a scotch!

CeeBee - Thursday, June 10 2010 @ 07:28 PM EDT (#216830) #
"The good news is I'm 63 - 64 in July and still as healthy and randy as a non-rabid badger.

Time for a scotch!"
Cheers Mylegacy and thanks for explanation. :) I don't drink scotch but I'll raise a glass of rye in celebration.
bpoz - Friday, June 11 2010 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#216848) #
AHHH!!! Quality of LIFE, TIME & SCOTCH. I am joining in with a beer.
Mike Green - Friday, June 11 2010 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#216849) #
I hear "one scotch, one beer", but what happened to the bourbon?
#2JBrumfield - Friday, June 11 2010 @ 11:26 AM EDT (#216854) #

I hear "one scotch, one beer", but what happened to the bourbon?

That's a thorough and good reference, by George!  Very bad to the bone!  See what I did there?

I don't know if this has been mentioned around these parts yet but Baseball Prospectus' David Laurila interviewed Tim Collins and "Mr. BJBBM", Brian Jeroloman,last month.  You can listen to it right here.

An Interview with Clayton McCullogh - June 2010 | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.