The following is a conversation we had after the first day of Spring Training for STEP Camp position players on February 28, 2013.
TH: What'd you do all winter?
GC: Worked out with a personal trainer, Barry Painter, who works for unique fitness with my brother and a couple of other guys who play professional baseball. We just all worked out and got stronger. Just did my normal routine - take ground balls, throw and hit everyday.
TH: Did you ever give yourself a break?
GC: Right after the season - er right after instructs - I gave myself like a week or two of not doing any baseball stuff, but I was working out and stuff like that.
TH: This time of year last year, February 2012, you were playing high school baseball. Does it feel like a long time ago?
GC: Yes and no. Yes, because you play everyday. It seems I've played so many games since high school baseball season, but when I really look at it, I was in high school last year and it wasn't that big a time difference. You know, I've learned so much since I've gotten to pro ball. As we talked back in Johnson City, I told you the major adjustments I was making, and it's an everyday grind, and you gotta carry yourself professionally and go out and play hard everyday and do the right thing and prepare yourself for this point and where we all want to be, and that's the big leagues. You gotta prepare in the offseason, and you gotta get in shape. If you don't, it's going to catch up with you at the end.
TH: You anticipate my next question, so, what have you learned since becoming a pro?
GC: The one big thing for me was not trying to do too much. Being a first rounder, signing for a whole bunch of money, you might sometimes - and it's not just me, it's a lot of people, I've talked to friends who were high picks - and you try to impress when you've already impressed. You don't really need to go out there and try to do more than you're capable of doing. And that's with anyone. And when people do that, they start getting big with their swing, and they start trying to do too much. They start trying to look flashy, instead of staying within yourself and doing what you have always been doing and what got you to the point that I'm at or anyone else is at. That's the main thing, is not trying to do too much and just knowing that if I have a bad game, you gotta let it go. Tomorrow's a new day. At the plate, to get real specific, I forget his name - I don't know if he's a scout or a hitting guy in the Blue Jays organization, but I've been listening to a lot of his CDs and recordings - it's a really good thing. It changes the way you think about the game and your approach. The big thing for him is that your batting average is evil. Once you get caught up with the batting average, and if you're getting hits - your average, your RBIs and things like that - you're going to screw yourself up. One big thing for him is: you hit the ball hard, you win. The pitcher knows you won, the pitcher's mom knows you won, everyone knows you won. That's one big thing for me, I'm just trying to hit the ball hard. If I hit the ball hard, sooner or later, they're eventually going to fall. And that's all you can do. You can't decide if you get a hit or not. You really can't if you really think about it. All you you have to do is hit the ball hard and they'll eventually fall.
And help the team win is another big thing. You help the team win, then your stats will all fall in place.
TH: Goals for Spring Training?
GC: I had big offseason goals: to get stronger, to get my head right, to do everything I needed to do to be successful at spring training and my next season I play. I'm just trying to out there - and God has a plan for me - he knows every stat that I'm going to have this year. So everything's meant to be, and everything's set out what it's going to be. So, I'm just going out there with a positive attitude, work my butt off, learn a lot - I'm always listening to people, I'm always trying to get better. You can't never stop working because that's when people pass you up. I'm just going to go out there and handle my business as a professional and play hard and everything's going to take care of itself.
TH: Did you get stronger?
GC: No doubt I got stronger. My personal trainer tested us at the beginning, when we started training. At the end, all my workouts, and all my reps and all my points, I scored way higher than what I started at. My times were better, faster, stronger. Less body fat. I feel great.
TH: Can you give an example of reps - or how that system works?
GC: Well, he calls it a Spartan Workout. You have a minute to do each thing, and there are 10 different drills for you to do. It's how many pushups you can do in a minute, how many dips you can do in a minute, how many box jumps, curls, triceps, pullups... stuff like that. Each rep is one point or something like that. You only have a minute rest between all of these drills. .... I scored like 80 or 90 points higher [at the end of the off-season] than when I first started and that's really, really good. So I was happy.
TH: Is Savannah the goal here? Do you think you can get there?
GC: (Loudly) No question about it. For me, I think no doubt I can get there, but it's out of my hands. They know where they're going to send me, whether it's Brooklyn or Savannah, St. Lucie - I really don't know. There's no doubt, wherever they put me, I know I'm going to battle. They can put me anywhere, and I have more confidence in myself than anyone does. That's why I work hard. I'm always trying to get better.
TH: What'd you do for fun this off-season, aside from take groundballs?
GC: Hit. No, uh... I hung out with my family. I don't get to see them much since [my parents] are both schoolteachers and my brother also plays in the Red Sox organization. My dad is a coach too - he coaches a summer league team. So it's not like I get to see them everyday. So I spend as much time as I can with them, with my girlfriend, and her family. One fun thing - my brother and I took our parents and our girlfriends out to San Francisco for a little vacation, so that was pretty cool.
TH: I love San Francisco. What'd you do?
GC: We toured AT&T Park. It was really nice. We went to Alcatraz. I love history and I'm all into that stuff, so that was pretty cool. Went to all the piers, and Ghirardelli, the chocolate store/factory. Did the San Francisco Bridge...Oh, we went up to Napa, up to a winery. After that, my Dad is from California, Camarillo, so we went and visited his family.
TH: Back to baseball for a moment. Swing. I know it's early - like the first day of Spring Training - but how do you feel compared to where you were last summer?
GC: I feel better - the best I've ever felt. Better than ever. I feel stronger. My swing's more compact. I'm shorter to the ball. My approach- I'm not trying to do too much. I feel great. My first BP out here, I felt unbelievable. As you could see, I was hitting - there were line drives everywhere. I feel great man. You know just going out here and getting this first day in, I couldn't wait. I was real pumped up and everything. People say, "man, I can't wait for the offseason. I can't wait to just chill." For me it's like, I can't wait for the next season to start. And today was great to get back out there, in my Mets uniform, and take ground balls. I'm a baseball rat. It was a blast.