Welcome to our latest installment of Road to the Show with Spinners outfielder Wilfred Pichardo. Pichardo has had a breakout season in 2009, hitting .302 and setting the Spinners single season record for stolen bases with 32. Pichardo was named the NY-Penn League Player of the Week for the week August 17-24, 2009. Wilfred has served primarily as the Spinners leadoff hitter this season, after playing briefly in Lowell last season before a hamstring injury ended his season.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a sixteen year old in 2006, Pichardo showed prowess in all parts of his game, including his defense, as he continues the transition from second base to centerfield. Wilfred took some time to answer a few questions for the Spinners blog with the assistance of Hitting Coach Luis Lopez to translate.
You originally played second base, now you have transitioned to center field, how has the transition gone for you and what position do you feel more natural at?
I feel more comfortable playing the outfield. It hasn’t been easy to transition from playing second base to playing centerfield there are a lot of differences between the two positions. I have really dedicated myself to working hard to learn the outfield the best I can.
You’ve had a lot of success here in Lowell in 2009, what if anything would you attribute this success to?
I have been very happy with my success this season; a big part of it is separating from a lot of things that had distracted me in the past. I feel I have matured and broken away from some things that were holding me back, it really gives me a new perspective. I always want to get better and even though this season has been successful for me, I feel like I have a long road ahead of me and I know that I have to work hard every day to become the player I know I can be. The use of my speed has been something that has helped me not only in taking bases, but legging out base hits and being able to play quality defense.
Speaking of base stealing, you have had a lot of success stealing bases this season, what approach do you take when you are looking to steal a base?
The most important thing is to read the pitcher, I like to study the pitcher’s motion toward the plate and get a feel for when is the best time to take off. I find the key to stealing bases is getting a good jump; this comes from reading the pitcher and figuring out the best moment to take off. When you are trying to steal bases you have to be confident, have no fear. If you believe in your speed and you put in the work reading pitchers, you can steal bases pretty naturally.
You were named NY-Penn League player of the week for the week of August 17-24th, how did you feel about this honor?
I was excited when I first heard about it, I’m not a guy who goes out seeking awards, I just like to go out and play hard. The award is really a testament to my teammates and my coaches helping me become a better player. I am surrounded by so many great guys here and this is their award just as much as it is mine. The award means a lot to me because it means that my hard work is paying off and that I am making a statement with my play on the field.
What was the signing process like with the Red Sox?
I spent a little over ten days back in 2006 working out for the Red Sox in their Dominican Academy. I played in front of a bunch of scouts and it was really just “lights-out”, they told me the loved what I could do and wanted to get me signed. It was a fairly smooth process after that and I have just moved through the system ever since, just working hard wherever I go.
How has the transition been from the D.R. to America?
I am still adjusting and it’s a constant work in progress. The biggest things are the language barrier and the difference in cultures. I haven’t been here in America that long and already I feel like I am doing well in acclimating myself as much as I can to the culture and also learning English the best that I can. Just like I work to improve my game, I have to work to learn English and the culture of America.
What moment during this season has been the most memorable and why?
There was a game this season where we played Oneonta on August 23rd. We scored a lot of runs and I feel like I really acted to set the pace for that game by getting on base and distracting the pitcher on the base paths (Pichardo went 2-3 with 2 BB’s and a stolen base). I did what I needed to do to help the team, I scored quite a few runs that day and that’s a big part of my game, getting on base, scoring runs, that’s what helps the team win.
What are your goals for the rest of this season and the future?
Just keep working hard, finish this season strong and work hard every day. I really don’t want to look to far ahead because I know there’s a lot of work that has to be done to bring my game to the next level. Anything I can do to help the team I find myself on win and anything I can do to improve myself are goals that I constantly have.
Stay tuned for further Road to the Show interviews coming soon!