Yankees catcher P.J. Pilittere was nice enough to answer a few questions from the PA writers. P.J. is currently with the Yankees in Spring Training and spent time in Scranton last season. P.J. is known to catch and call a great game. Here's the interview:
Q: How has your experience as a College World Series participant helped you in dealing with a World Class organization such as the Yankees?
A: My playing days at Cal State Fullerton have definitely prepared me to handle many things throughout my professional career. Whether its a world class club like the Yanks or any other club, it's still all about the game and the coaching staff and teammates I was privileged to have in college laid a solid foundation on how to handle my self as a person, player, and teammate.
Q: What kind of year are you expecting from yourself? What would it take, in your mind, to get promoted to the Bronx?
A: All I can hope for is a healthy year. I'm sure as spring comes to a close I'll have a better idea of what capacity my role will be this year. If there's anything I've learned in my five years as a pro is that you cannot control anything besides yourself, i.e. performance, attitude, and work-ethic. So it's hard to really say what it would take to get a shot in the Bronx this year, but I know deep down I have what it takes to contribute to any team I'm a part of.
Q: Has anyone in the organization spoken to you about mentoring Jesus Montero when he arrives in Scranton? If not, have you thought about 'taking him under your wing' and what that would entail?
A: I haven't been asked to mentor Montero, but honestly at the end of the day we're both catchers and us catchers tend to get very close despite the competition aspect of battling for jobs. Jesus is a great kid and we get to work together a lot during our time at major league camp.
Q: What pitcher from last year's Scranton roster impressed you the most?
A: That's a tough question to answer. We had so many guys coming in and out of there and every guy brought a little something different to the pitching table. Although at the end of the year during the playoffs guys like Ivan Nova and Romulo Sanchez were throwing the ball as well as anyone.
Q: What are the best and worst parts of playing pro baseball?
A: The best parts are easy to answer. Getting an opportunity to play a game everyday that I love so much is a privilege that I never take for granted. Also one of my favorite things is just being around my teammates on a daily basis and the relationships you develop with the guys. I don't really think there is a worst part of playing pro ball, I mean I get to go to a baseball field everyday and compete. It would be hard for me to find anything more enjoyable to do .
Q: Do you think you'll get a real chance to stick in the majors with the Yankees, or would it help to join another organization with less catching depth?
A: Honestly it's out of my hands and all a player can do is perform when he has an opportunity in front of him whether that's with the Yanks or any other club.
Q: Can Kei Igawa ever be an effective ML pitcher, even just as a reliever?
A: I think so, Kei is a very durable pitcher, I don't think he missed a start last year. He pitches with some deception and when he's down in the zone he's very tough. I personally enjoy catching Kei because I know he's gonna compete and have fun out there. Even with a bit of a language barrier he's one of the most fun guys to be around.
Q: Who has been your closest teammate in your time in the Yankees Organization? Funniest teammate?
A: My closest teammate over the years has been Eric Duncan who is no longer with the Yanks, he's with the Braves now. I'd say right now Colin Curtis is one of the funniest guys I've played with he's always smiling and he's very clever.
Q: Was there ever a player that was on the same team as you in the Yankees organization that you saw play and said "wow, this guy is going to be great one day?"
A: Austin Jackson. I played with him the last two years and he's got something special. He's got a great demeanor and carries himself in a way that makes me look up to him. I'm gonna miss him but I wish him all the best with the Tigers.
Q: Most famous person in your phonebook?
A: Haha. I'm literally looking through my phonebook right now.... its probably just a collection of former teammates and coaches... i.e. Kurt Suzuki, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Butch Wynegar, Ricky Romero and so on.
Thanks again to P.J. for the interview. It seems like last years group of players in Scranton was close, but the core players have moved on to other teams. Here's to hoping P.J. gets an MLB spot.
UPDATE: 8:00 PM: Just got in contact with my source and I should be able to interview Grant Duff, a Yankees relieving prospect, within the next few days, for those of you that were asking who the next one would be.