This season, he's also showing a bit of power, homering four times in his first 72 at-bats. If the Mets find themselves in need of another outfielder, Ceciliani might be the player they call upon. In this Q&A, Ceciliani tells me what he does to stay prepared defensively, if power is an important part of his game and why he chooses not to wear batting gloves at the plate...
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Brender: You’ve shown a lot of power early this season. For those who don’t know much about you, do you consider yourself a power hitter?
Ceciliani: I don’t really think I’m much of a power hitter, per se. I’d say more gap-to-gap, try to spray it in the gaps and run. Speed is a little bit of my game, stealing bases. So, I think I’m a guy who needs to put it in play a little bit but if I backspin a couple balls and they get out of the yard, I’ll take it.
Brender: Wally Backman told me a few minutes ago that he loves your defense, specifically the jump you get on balls. Do you pride yourself on your defense?
Ceciliani: I do. I pride myself on my defense. I go out every day and I try to shag live at least one or two groups a day, just working on my jumps and my reads. Reading guys swings. I think that’s the best thing to help in the outfield for reads is getting it done in BP, so it gets you ready for the game. That’s something I always pride myself on. I know I can always control that. You can’t always control the way you swing, so that’s definitely a big part of my game. I try to be as good as I can out there.
Brender: You were on the Binghamton team that won the Eastern League championship last year. Tell me about the experience.
Ceciliani: Man, it was awesome. We were behind Portland all year. They had a great team. We wound up facing them in the first round of the playoffs and knew it was going to be a dog fight. We went five games with them and came out on top. We just kind of got hot at the right time and everybody came together. You know, we’ve been in the playoffs together the last few years as a team but never finished, so everybody came together and wanted to finally get a ring. It was a great feeling. I think I’ve been playing for seven years and probably been in the playoffs or the championship three or four times, so to finally get one felt pretty awesome.
Brender: You’ve moved up through this organization and see all the players at each level. How much talent is there in the Mets organization, because it appears there’s quite a bit at each level?
Ceciliani: I think the guys up top have done a great job in the drafts, getting players that are close already and then all the way from the coaches through the coordinators developing guys. You go down to each level and there are good players all over the place. This team, we have a lot of young guys who are already up here knocking on the door. So, the organization has done a great job developing young players and getting the right guys and I think it’s starting to turn itself around. In the big leagues they’re starting to play really good ball right now.
Brender: I noticed you don’t wear batting gloves when you hit. Is that something you’ve always done?
Ceciliani: I don’t like the feel of it. I guess they feel too thick for me. I don’t feel like I have control of the bat as well. I’ve never really worn them. Maybe, I was 10 years old and I thought it was cool, seeing Griffey and all those guys. It’s just kind of a feel thing, so it feels a lot more comfortable for me without them.
Brender: How much more comfortable does it make it for you when you move up in an organization with many of the same players?
Ceciliani: It makes it a lot more comfortable. You know who the guys are around you and who everybody is and you’ve always gotten along. Our team is a really close, tight group. The guys we’ve all come up with are really close. We also have the guys who have been up here a while in Triple-A, and new free agents, and they’ve all been pretty awesome, helping us out, making sure we keep our minds right. Everybody just seems to have fun and play their butts off.
Brender: How important is winning in the minor leagues?
Ceciliani: You have to play to win. If you’re winning ballgames that means you and your teammates are probably doing what they need to do in developing and getting better. If you’re losing, there’s probably a lot more going wrong. If you’re winning ballgames you have guys who are hitting with runners in scoring position, moving runners over. Pitchers are coming in throwing strikes, getting ahead. So, I think winning translates into guys doing what they need to do.