Brennan Boesch has been taking ground balls at first base for a few days now. It’s not a particularly glamorous or exciting development — he’s basically the third-string first baseman at this point — but I thought Boesch was interesting talking about the process of learning a position that’s often considered so easy that anyone could do it.
Above is video of Joe Girardi talking about Boesch’s potential role, and below are comments from Boesch about learning on the fly.
On learning a new position
“The coaching staff is helping me get comfortable there in case I’m needed in a situation. It’s getting better every day, but you guys are used to Teixeira out there. I’ve got him at least to help me out in the meantime. It’s fun. It’s a new challenge, as if in baseball you need a new challenge. But here you go. It’s another one for me.”
On his experience at first base
“In the major leagues, no. In the minor leagues, no. In college, no. In high school, yes. So it’s been a while. I felt like I was pretty good in high school, but that’s really the last time. It’s a tough position. Athleticism only takes you so far. I know I have enough of that. It’s just, the repetition is the thing. It’s why I can’t move right now because you have to take a ton of ground balls. It’s a feel thing. It’s coming along. It’s getting better. If I was horrible, I’d tell them, don’t even try, but I feel like every day I get a little better and every day I feel like I can help the team if they need me over there soon enough.”
On the hardest thing about the position
“The footwork is pretty precise. They think if you just throw a big guy over there, he’s going to block the ball, but there’s a lot more precession. You watch Tex take ground balls over there, the footwork is very precise where he’s setting up to get the hop every time. That’s why he’s the Gold Glover that he is. If you’re not in the right position, you’re not going to get the good hop; you’re not going to be in position to make the play. It’s knowing how to read balls too and having soft hands. There’s technique too. We could talk for a long time about how hard it is because there’s a lot of aspects to it. But I’m having fun with it. I’m taking it on and see where it leads me.”
On whether he could play there right away
“Yeah. I would have done it without taking a single ground ball if he’d asked me to. That’s the kind of guy that I hope I am. I guess normally I might panic, but I’d like to say I could do it right now. If I’m being honest, I’d like to have a couple more cracks at it. I haven’t ready too many live balls off the bat. I’ve really only done some fungo work, which doesn’t necessarily simulate game action as well as a rocketed ball off a left-handed hitter’s bat. So I’m going to stand in there when Pronk’s hitting and see if I catch the ball or not.”
On the advice he’s gotten from Teixeira
“Tex is like the most positive guy ever, so I don’t know that what he’s saying is actually true. He’s telling me I’m doing great. I’m like, ‘Coming from you, I don’t believe you.’ He’s too nice, I think. I think the coaches are more honest, and they’re saying, ‘It’s getting better.’ It’s not perfect, obviously, but it’s getting better and that’s all I can ask for.”