Back in 2004, the Phillies took Greg Golson with the 21st pick of the amateur draft. His bat, though, has been slow to develop through high strikeout totals and not enough walks for a guy with plus speed. The Phillies traded him to Texas in 2008, and the Yankees traded for him this winter — sending infielder Mitch Hilligoss to Texas — after the Rangers designated Golson for assignment..
I remember when you were drafted, you were labeled as the best athlete in the draft. What have you been working on since then?
Golson: Pitch recognition. I feel like that’s been the thorn in my side basically my whole career. I’m trying to be more patient at the plate and allow the pitcher to put me on base a couple of times so I can use my speed a little bit more. Hopefully, with the things I’ve been working on in the offseason, and the things I learned in Texas and Philly, I can incorporate that all the time. It’s basically just trying to build on that every year.
It seems that when players are given that athlete label, it comes with an idea that they’re still learning baseball, but you grew up playing baseball your whole life didn’t you?
Golson: I started when I was 11, so it was a little bit later than everybody else, but I still feel like that’s plenty of time to learn the game. I feel like I know the game just as well as anyone else my age, it’s just sometimes it took me a little bit longer to trust my ability. Things other guys have to do, I might not have to do because my hands are quicker or whatever. Those are things that every player needs to learn, what they’re good at and what they’re not good at.
Did the trade to the Yankees catch you off guard, or did the trade to Texas leave you feeling like anything can happen at any moment?
Golson: That definitely did happen to me, you realize that you don’t know where you’re going to be. I kind of knew something was going to happen when they designated me. I knew that I wasn’t going to be with the Rangers this year. But for the Yankees to pick me up, that was completely unexpected. The history that they have and everything, it definitely lets you know that you don’t know what’s going to happen.
Do you feel like a better baseball player now than you were maybe three or four years ago?
Golson: Absolutely. If I didn’t there would be no reason for me to play right now. Being with Texas, I learned a lot about myself as far as hitting goes I learned my swing. All of the coaches that I’ve been around – Davey Lopes, Gary Pettis, Rudy Jaramillo, Kevin Long – all of these guys that have some really, really solid credentials in baseball. I get to learn from them. I might not be with them now, but stuff that they told me sticks with me.
What do you need to do better this year than you did last year in order to get to New York and stick around?
Golson: I just feel like I need to be more consistent. Last year started off real well. I got a call-up, then for whatever reason, I didn’t necessarily carry that throughout the year. I feel like if I steal more bases, get on base more, I feel like that will take care of a lot of things. I feel like if I do what I can do, things will work out the way they’re supposed to… At some point I want to make all of the people that were backing me when I was younger look good.