At the Rangers Fan Fest last week, I got to interview Taylor Teagarden. It was very nice of him and I would like to thank him for doing this. It was my first face-to-face interview.
1. What was it like to win championships with UT and Spokane in the same year? Was one more exciting than the other?
Taylor said that the college championship was definitely more memorable. It was his third season and he was pretty sure it would be his last one. They had battled all year and had lost games in the regional and super regional. He was playing with long-time teammates and lifelong friends and winning a championship with them in their final year together was amazing. Taylor said he didn’t mean to take anything away from the Spokane championship. That was also exciting especially because the team wasn’t expected to do much.
2. What led you to choosing Scott Boras as your agent?
Taylor said that Boras had contacted him in high school and was a good advisor to him in high school and college. He was contacted by a lot of other agents but Boras’ firm was the best and did the best job working with stats.
3. Why didn’t you sign with the Cubs when they drafted you in 2002?
Taylor wanted to go to UT. He had been a Longhorn fan his whole life and had been advised to go to college in case baseball didn’t work out. He said that he felt it was a good move.
4. What did you change in your batting approach between 2003 and 2004, when your batting average went from .315 to .273, but your walks went from 23 to 44 and your homers went from 5 to 10?
He said that it was just on off year. He got off to a good start but got really tired and worn down. ‘I put a lot of pressure on myself and was trying to do too much’.
5. How did the struggles of your first week in the minors affect your confidence level and how did you turn it around?
Taylor said that it didn’t affect his confidence. He knew he could play every day and that he only had a month before the end of the season, so he didn’t get too worried about it. Once he got his first hit, it triggered something for him and he found his swing again. He thought that part of it might have been getting used to a wooden bat.
6. What was the recovery process from Tommy John surgery like?
‘It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do’. He had always been able to play baseball and it was a bad feeling to not be able to. He had to be patient and keep a positive outlook. He called it a year of basically not doing anything.
7. Why do you think you hit so much better as a catcher than as a DH last year?
Taylor doesn’t seem to enjoy DHing very much. He says that you’re more in the game as a catcher. As a DH, you don’t have the same blood flow. DHing is harder in his opinion. ‘There’s too much sitting on the bench’.
8. What went through your mind when the Rangers traded for Saltalamacchia?
Taylor thought it was something they had to do. Teixeira obviously wasn’t going to sign here and everyone needs lots of catching. He’s not worried about the competition.
9. Is there anything specific you’ve been working on in the off-season and, if so, what is it?
Taylor’s working on flexibility and is focusing on his hips to keep them in shape year-round.
10. What’s the biggest difference between college and minor league pitching?
Minor leaguers are better. ‘It’s very hard to make it to the double-A level.’
11. What do you think has been your best professional game and why?
Taylor first mentioned that there were a couple of big offensive games, such as a game in the Cal League where he went 4-for-5 with a couple of home runs. But the game he said was his most fun game as a catcher was a complete game shutout against Midland last year where he caught Doug Mathis. He said that Doug ‘dominated’ and that that kind of game is fun.
12. Who are the three toughest pitchers you’ve faced and why?
Josh Geer from San Antonio – he’s ‘tough’.
Juan Morillo, a Tulsa reliever who throws 99 mph.
Brandon Hynick from the California League.
13. Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?
Chris Davis – they spent the whole year together and are good friends.
14. What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?
Traveling. The trips are sometimes all day affairs. You have to eat and sleep a lot to keep fresh.
15. What was your favorite team growing up and why?
The Dallas Cowboys. Taylor’s still a big fan.
16. What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?
Basketball, which he says he was pretty good at, baseball, which was his best sport without a doubt, golf, and football in high school.
17. How is your arm doing?
‘My arm is strong’.
18. What are your hobbies?
Dove hunting, golf, and watching football.
I would like to thank Taylor again for doing this. It was very nice of him to take up his time for it. I would also like to thank Jamey Newberg and Eleanor Czajka for arranging for me to interview Taylor after he finished signing autographs at the Fan Fest Newberg table last week.
Results of last week’s poll:
Which new player do you think will make the biggest difference this year?
Josh Hamilton – 88%
Jason Jennings – 9%
Milton Bradley – 3%
Others – 0%
Come back next week for a Rangers Spring Training Roster Analysis or an interview with Travis Metcalf.