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Garin Cecchini on D&C: ‘I’m trying to be a sponge’ at spring training

02.25.14 at 10:15 am ET
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Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., to discuss his first time at a major league camp. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Friday, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino told Dennis & Callahan that Cecchini was a new player who could have the biggest impact this season.

“Especially coming from a guy like Mr. Lucchino, it’€™s very humbling,” Cecchini said of the remark. “It’€™s good to give you confidence going into camp like that, the way he thinks of you.”

Cecchini has left a good impression, in part, because of his patience at the plate. During half a season at Double-A Portland last year, Cecchini had 51 walks in 295 plate appearances and a .420 on-base percentage.

“I think at a young age, both my parents were coaches that, when I would watch major league games, they told me to watch these players, be in the moment with them,” Cecchini said. “Like a Tony Gwynn, a left-handed hitter, or Joe Mauer – have the at-bat with them, and I would try to.

“When they were facing great pitchers I would try to have that at bat with them. At a young age, I was taught to get your pitch, put your best swing off and try to drive to left-center, right-center. Then the Red Sox, when I got here, didn’t change me at all. They just said keep the approach and put icing on the cake with the mentality.”

For Cecchini, his first big league spring training is about learning from the veterans around him.

“They’ve won multiple World Series. They have experience that I haven’€™t had,” Cecchini said. “I’€™m just trying to learn from them. They’ve been in the big leagues. I’€™m just a so-called prospect, so I’€™m trying to be a sponge. Listen to everything. No mouth.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On how he has improved so far in spring training: “People say things don’€™t click, but I really think that. I think that when you have something that someone says in a different way, you’€™re like, ‘€˜Oh, man.’€™ The light bulb switches, and I think something switched up with me on defense. I know it’s just fungo, we’€™re not in a game, but my feet are moving a lot better. I’€™m more consistent.”

On Will Middlebrooks: “Great player, great person — really tried to pick his brain on what he’€™s learned because he’€™s been there and done that. I’ve only played Double A. He knows what to do, he knows his routine. I’€™m just trying to learn from his experiences because he’€™s been there.”

On being discouraged in the minors: “I’€™m not going to lie to you. I’€™m going to tell you the truth that it’€™s tough at times — the bus rides and the fields, no fans — but at the same time, you’ve got to put things in perspective where there are starving kids in this world that are trying to put food on their plate, and I’€™m playing a game for a living. That’€™s the kind of thing I try to keep in mind, that I’€™m hitting a baseball and throwing a baseball for a living. It’€™s truly a blessing.”

On which big league hitter he models himself after: “Tony Gwynn. I love watching Tony Gwynn. I know he’€™s done — I guess Joe Mauer now. … Those guys, the at-bats they took — when I would watch them take at-bats, I would think they’€™re trying to make this pitcher’€™s nightmare. They’€™re trying to make him say, ‘€˜Man, I just faced one of the toughest hitters.’€™ When I go up there, that’€™s what I’€™m trying to do. I’€™m trying to make that pitcher — I’€™m his nightmare and he doesn’t want to face me.”

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