Tuesday, January 15, 2013

An Interview with LHP Alex Sogard

Alex Sogard had quite a year starting in November 2011. During a 12-month span, he got married, was promoted twice (first to Lancaster and then to Corpus Christi), got to the playoffs with the Corpus Christi Hooks, participated in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Germany with the Czech team and participated in the Arizona Fall League, representing the Astros.

Alex Sogard - June 2012
Photo by Jayne Hansen

After splitting his time between starting and relieving for the Lexington team in 2011, he was used solely in relief in 2012 for Lancaster and for Corpus Christi. I contacted Alex recently via email to ask him about his 2012 season and his whirlwind off-season.

WTH: You had a bit of an up-and-down season with early success at Lancaster followed by a promotion and then early struggles with Corpus before settling in nicely in the second half of the season. How do you handle the ups and downs? What kind of adjustments do you make?

AS: I think ups and downs are just part of the game. I try not to get too high or too low because baseball is a very humbling game. My college coach taught me baseball is a game of failure; if you get so caught up on your performance the night before it might affect your performance the next day.

During my struggles in Corpus my biggest adjustment was pitching to contact. When I first got to Corpus I tried to be “too perfect” and avoid contact. Once I made that adjustment I was able to settle down and get a good amount of groundballs. When you are in the trenches it’s hard to enjoy it but looking back I think going through those struggles helped me grow and made me a better pitcher.

I have learned that the more you try and take control of your life, the more God will make things go to where you will have to rely on Him. I may face failures both on and off the field but I am able to find comfort in knowing my worth doesn’t come in throwing a ball but in living to glorify Christ in everything that I do.

WTH: What do you think you accomplished in the 2012 season and what are you focusing on now?

AS: My main goal for the 2012 season was to stay healthy so I think it was a very successful season. I think a lot of times we take for granted how tough it is to stay healthy for an entire season. I was very blessed to be able to stay healthy during the entire season in addition to the WBC qualifier and the AFL.

Right now I am just focusing on getting my body and arm in shape so I can be as prepared as possible to go through the season strong and healthy.

WTH: Can you tell me a little about your pitch repertoire - best pitch, velocity, movement, etc.?

AS: I throw a fastball, change-up, and curveball.

My fastball differs day to day but it is usually in the low 90’s with some arm side movement. Some days it sinks more than others.

My change-up is like a circle change, which is about 78-82 mph. In the past my change-up has been one of my best pitches but this year it was my most inconsistent pitch. I hope to change that in 2013.

My curveball is my out pitch. It is usually around 76-79 and has a big downward break. It has been my best out pitch for the past two seasons.

WTH: You fared better against right-handed hitters than lefties this year. Has that always been the case?

AS: No actually, it hasn’t. I have always done much better against lefties in my career. I think this year I was just trying to do too much against lefties. Instead of attacking them and pitching to contact I was trying to be “too perfect” and strike them out. Towards the end of the season I made a big adjustment and was able to get them out like I should.

WTH: I saw an interview with you when you were in Germany during the WBC qualifiers with the Czech team and I know that you were really excited to represent the Czech Republic team for your mother and her family. Could you tell me a little about that experience and what you took away from it?

AS: It was such an amazing experience! It was my first time overseas and it was so great. The team consisted of two MiLB players (including myself) and the rest of the players were from the Czech Republic. It was such a great experience meeting all the players and they took me in right away and made me feel part of the team. My mother’s side of the family grew up there so I felt honored to be able to represent my family as well as the country. Although we lost both games it was great to be able to pitch for them and help contribute. I think the best part about playing with the Czech team was that they all love to play the game! I think sometimes in professional ball people get so caught up in stats and doing well that they forget why we play the game, because we love it! It was so refreshing playing with those guys who were just excited to show up to the field. Although this is my job, I hope that it is evident to those around me, as well as those who watch, that I love what I do and I am blessed and humbled to be able to have the chance to play each and every day!

WTH: You also had the opportunity to participate in the AFL this year. What did you take away from that experience?

AS: It was such a great opportunity and I was really honored to participate. The Arizona Fall League is definitely a once in a lifetime experience and I really enjoyed being able to be a part of it. It was great being around such great players and coaches and I just tried to learn something new from them everyday. The AFL afforded me the amazing opportunity to build relationships with guys from different organizations. This opportunity is rare in professional ball and I am thankful that I was able to experience this.

WTH: Of all the pitchers you've seen in the Astros organization, who has a pitch you'd like to steal?

AS: I think I would like to steal Jason Stoffel’s slider. I think that would be a great pitch to add to my repertoire since I already have a fastball, change-up and curveball. It’s nasty! It looks just like a fastball and then breaks hard and late at the last second. And he can throw it for a strike every time, so that always helps!

WTH: Of all of the players you've seen in the Astros organization, who would you least like to face in the batter's box?

AS: Ben Orloff. He is a guy that will foul off 6 straight nasty pitches and then draw a 12-pitch walk. I’d rather face a guy who is trying to hit the ball 600 feet. Orloff is one of those guys who you hate to see on the on deck circle because you know he is not an easy out!

WTH: Who is the best team leader (either leading by example or someone who gets the team fired up) that you've played with?

AS: This one is easy, Ben Orloff. He is someone who leads by example. The guy does everything right. He is the ultimate definition of a team player! We always joke around saying he is a “player/coach” because he directs traffic while he is playing shortstop. I always love coming into the game when he is playing behind me; it’s a good feeling.

WTH: Can you tell me one thing about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?

AS: I can’t sleep on the buses when we travel. I have trouble sleeping anywhere but in a bed! I know it sounds weird because of the profession I am in, but it’s true. I take that time to listen to music. I love all music, I find it very peaceful and relaxing.

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Thanks for your time, Alex, and good luck with whatever new adventures the 2013 season may bring.

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