Monday, August 13, 2012

An Interview with 2B Kiké Hernandez

The first two people I interviewed when I was in Lancaster a week ago were George Springer and Kiké Hernandez. Within a week, they were both headed to Corpus Christi for promotions to AA.

When Kiké walked out of the clubhouse to meet me, he saw the confusion on my face as I saw the mop of dark blonde hair. “I’m not your typical Puerto Rican,” he said with a grin. It turns out Kiké really isn’t your typical anything. He has one of the most upbeat, charismatic, vibrant personalities of anyone I’ve ever met. I “knew” him only through twitter, but I felt like I’d known him my whole life.

Kiké will be 21 later this month and as Lancaster Manager Rodney Linares put it, “He’s starting to come into his own.” Being healthy and being an everyday player has agreed with him. According to Linares, “He’s developing nicely. He’s going to make it interesting for the people that make the decisions. He’s having a solid year. His biggest attribute is his bat and I don’t think he knows that. He’s not going to hit 40 home runs, but he’s got a chance to hit 40 doubles.” Linares also praised Kiké for the progress he has made in his defense this season.



On to the interview ~

On his improvement over last season: “I’m healthy. [Kiké went on to describe the ankle injury that turned out to be much worse than initially thought and which derailed his development.] No problems this year.”

On what he’s accomplished this season: “Last year I didn’t play much second and I’m letting people know that I can still play second base every day. I’m just letting my hitting do the talking and my playing do the talking now. I just really want to accomplish some goals and so far I’ve been pretty happy with the way I’m playing. I just want to keep that up and help the team make the playoffs.”

On what he’s working on: “I still need to work a little bit on second base (I made a couple of errors and some unnecessary throws that have been forced) and work a little bit more on my defense and have my batting be a little bit more consistent. I’ve been a little bit of a streaky hitter this year and I guess that’s just part of pretty much my first full season and getting used to the grind of every day playing. I got my first day off last night after like 35 games and I was starting to feel it a little bit. It’s just one of those little things you’ve got to get used to and have in mind for the off-season. You’ve got to work harder than you worked the year before so you get in better shape and come back stronger”

On playing winter ball: “Definitely plan on playing winter ball [in Puerto Rico]. It’s a good experience. You play with older guys that have more experience, learn a little bit about the game. Those veterans help you a lot, just help [with] those little things that are still not there.”

On which Astros pitcher he would least like to face: “Right now, I feel like one of the toughest pitchers we’ve got on our team is Tropeano. He throws like 20 different pitches. Whenever a pitcher throws that many pitches, it’s kind of tough to hit him. There’s a lot of different views the ball comes from. I feel like Tropeano would be a tough match up.”

Who on the team makes him laugh?: “It’s definitely George [Springer], [Chris] Epps and [Grant] Hogue. Those are the three – pretty funny. We’ve got a couple of characters on the team, a couple of funny people.”

On what he would do if he couldn’t play baseball: “There’s a lot of people that say I could be an actor and it’s something I like and I’ve done before but it’s a tough career. I’d probably go to school and try something like some computer thing. I’m pretty good at technology.”

On something most people don’t know about him: “Only my teammates would know I’m a guy you always see with a smile on his face. I like to see people happy. Whenever someone’s not having a good day,  I always try and go and make their day better. I like to see people happy, people around me happy, people I care about. This is my family right here. My teammates are my family when I’m away from home so I just want everybody to feel like they’re home. We get pretty homesick sometimes and miss our families because it’s a long road, six months away from home. We’ve been getting new guys pretty much every week and you just want to make those new guys feel comfortable. That’s pretty much what I’m here for, making everybody feel better.”

Does he think about how close Hi-A is to the big leagues?: “I really didn’t think about it until I heard Eddy Rodriguez [San Diego] got called up to the big leagues straight from Hi-A a couple days ago. It’s crazy. He was just playing against us last week and then yesterday facing big leaguers hitting a home run his first big league at bat. You really can’t think much about it. You’ve got to go out and do your own thing. It’s baseball here. It’s going to be baseball up there. It’s going to be baseball everywhere but at a tougher level. It’s just about experience and maturing form the game and learning from the game every day.”

What should Astros fans know?: “Be patient. It’s going to take two or three more years and I promise you guys we’re going to be really good. I can see from where I signed in ’09 and the people we’ve got now, the difference is huge and we got a lot better. I knew from the beginning we were going to be really good because our line-up was stacked, but I guess it caught me by surprise that everybody else is so good. I was just so focused on my team that I didn’t think too much about the other [Astros farm system] teams and we’re really good. I think one of the reasons why as a team when we struggled we would recover so fast is because our chemistry is so good. Everybody gets along in the locker room. Everybody just wants the best for everybody else. Everybody’s pulling for everybody. I guess those are the little things that make a team go to the next level.”

Kiké also talked about a conversation he had recently with Ben Orloff who had described the Corpus Christi team similarly, noting the great chemistry and how special the team is, how much fun they’re having and how badly they want it. Kiké should fit right in. He won’t be the new guy for long; he’ll be the guy who makes everybody feel right at home just like he did with me.

2 comments:

  1. Great for Kike.. God bless you Kid... My best wishes.. Keep Walking...Tito Colls

    ReplyDelete