The following is an interview with Pittsburgh Pirates prospect first baseman Matt Curry. I will be checking in with Curry once a month throughout the 2013 baseball season as he battles to try and make it to the major leagues.
Zachary Weiss: What did it mean for you to get drafted and continue your dreams of becoming a major leaguer?
Matt Curry: “All I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a little kid was play professional baseball, so it made me happy to get drafted and to get my shot with the Pirates was something I wanted to do. I just wanted that chance to fulfill my childhood dream.”
ZW: How hard is it to move from level to level in the minor league system?
MC: “It’s tough. The Pirates have a lot of great players, get a lot of free agents and guys from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. I’ve been fortunate and it’s been a great opportunity. I’ve been able to play with a lot of great players and I’m fortunate to be one of the top players in the system and have the chance that I have.”
ZW: What has been the highlight/lowlight thus far in the minors?
MC: “The thing that has been the worst is probably the bus rides. Just coming out of college we flew everywhere and were treated like first class. When I got to the Pirates organization there were a lot of bus rides and we would stay in hotels you wouldn’t normally stay in. The best part is being able to play baseball every day and play a kid’s game as an adult.”
ZW: What have you worked on this off-season to try and make that jump into the majors?
MC: “I came into Spring Training about 12 pounds lighter but I feel just as strong as I was last year. I’ve been getting that bat hand forward for about a week now and haven’t lost any pop, but probably gained some more power. I feel great changing my swing. Last year I was kind of an upright guy but now I’m more down on my legs, spreading my legs out a little bit and getting a better base. I’m feeling great and swinging it good and I’m looking forward to a good season.”
ZW: Were the swing changes due to inconsistencies you had last season?
MC: “The change in my swing was more about giving me power, although it probably will help with my consistency. I’ve put myself in a good position already this Spring Training that I already feel great and that’s why I worked out really hard this offseason. I’m always hearing that the difference between a minor leaguer and a big leaguer is that they’re consistent every day and you kind of know what you’re going to get out of them. That’s what I’m trying to nail down.”
ZW: How did Pirates free agent moves [Jerry Sands now joins the team along with Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones at first base] impact you?
MC: “All I can do is play as hard as I can every time I step out onto the field. I can’t really control who they have here, all I can do is take care of myself, go out there and play the game hard the right way. I need to get my hits, hit for power and do what I’m supposed to do and let everything else take care of itself. Those guys in front of me make me push even harder because I’m in competition with guys who have been up there and have done pretty well.”
ZW: What would it mean to get that major league call up?
MC: “That’s something I’ve worked for 20 years. I started playing baseball when I was four, and always had that mentality that all I wanted to do was play baseball. I’ve been fortunate to never do any other kind of work and just keep playing baseball. I don’t just want to make it, I want to lead Pittsburgh to a championship one day. That would be the ultimate goal, but just making it would be awesome.”
ZW: What are your expectations for the Pirates this season?
MC: “I think we’re on our way up. Last year we kind of fell off towards the end, but we were looking at above .500. This year, I think they’re going to break that and hopefully make a run. Hopefully I’ll be a September call-up and I’ll maybe be able to get up there and get a few at-bats and help the club make a playoff push. I think they do have a shot to make the playoffs this year. We have a lot of young guys who play hard and play the right way.”