Sept. 17, 2004
RedSoxNation.net had a chance to sit down with Matt Ciaramella, the team's 12th pick (13th round) of this year's draft. Ciaramella, a switch-hitting outfielder, was drafted out of the University of Utah where he hit .366-13-64 this past season. A native of Salt Lake City and an academic All-American, he began his pro career with the Lowell Spinners. We talked to Matt about his baseball experiences, thoughts on the game, and dreams of playing in the major leagues.
RSN: You're a switch-hitting outfielder. How else would you describe yourself?
MC: I think I swing the bat pretty well -- at least I always have in the past. It's disappointing to have struggled here somewhat, but I haven't lost my confidence.
RSN: Tell us a little about your approach, and where you project yourself in the line-up.
MC: I generally look fastball and adjust to off-speed pitches. I'm a gap hitter, so I see myself as a middle-of-the-order guy. Getting stronger is a big priority, and that's something I'll work hard on during the off-season.
RSN: Do you usually go up to the plate looking to attack the first good pitch, or are you a believer in working the count?
MC: It depends on the situation. Baseball is a game where you're always learning, and understanding that situations can dictate your approach is a part of that. It's something I'm working on and trying to get better at.
RSN: How similar is your swing from each side of the plate, and what is your natural side?
MC: I try to mirror myself, so I'm pretty even each way. I'm a natural lefthander, but there's no real difference in my stroke from either side.
RSN: Who do you consider the best switch-hitter of all time?
MC: While I'm tempted to say Pete Rose, I have to go with Mickey Mantle. He hit for both power and a good average, and his speed added an extra tool to the equation -- at least until he hurt his knees.
RSN: Thinking of power and batting average, would you rather hit .330 with 10 home runs, or .270 with 30 homers?
MC: As long as I'm helping the team, either is fine. But .330 with 30 homers would be better, so how about if I go with that? (smiles)
RSN: What's the hardest pitch to hit in baseball?
MC: For me, the change-up. A guy with a good change can be hard to pick-up -- it looks like a fastball out of his hand, but has good yank at the end.
RSN: Let's look ahead to your major league debut. What's the perfect scenario for your first hit?
MC: Let's see*it's a late call-up in a pennant race, and I get a hit off of Mariano Rivera to help win a game. That would be a pretty good one, don't you think?
RSN: Let's talk a little about the other side of the ball -- tell us about your defensive game.
MC: I mentioned wanting to improve my strength, but I need to stay flexible and keep my speed, too. I've played both right and left field, and handle them pretty equally. My arm is something I need to work on strengthening -- it could be better.
RSN: Tell us how you'll go about doing that.
MC: The organization has a program where you throw for ten minutes each day. You go in increments of 60, 90 and 120 feet -- and beyond. The trainers will vary the time from each distance somewhat, and sticking with it should help pay dividends.
RSN: Staying with defense, how long have you had your glove?
MC: I've had it almost five years, and plan to keep it until it falls apart and I can't re-string it any more. I'm that way about bats, too -- I like the feeling of familiarity.
RSN: What are some of your first baseball memories?
MC: Probably hitting in the back yard with my dad when I was about four years old -- maybe five. I remember him teaching me to switch-hit. Those are nice memories.
RSN: You were an All-Academic in both high school and college. What are your thoughts on getting a good education?
MC: It's very important, and always has been to me. Both of my parents are college graduates, and I definitely plan to go back and finish my degree some day. Right now it looks like it will be in finance.
RSN: That would be at the University of Utah -- why did you choose to go to school there?
MC: Part of it was that they offered a full-ride scholarship, but I also thought highly of the coaching staff. There was something about them that I liked, which factored into my decision.
RSN: Prior to college ball you hit .618 and were a high school All-American. Were you drafted at that time?
MC: I wasn't, and I'm not exactly sure why. It might have been where I played -- the state of Utah isn't exactly a high-profile area for baseball.
RSN: Tell us about your draft experience his summer.
MC: Mostly I just tried to keep a clear head and not worry too much about where I'd go. I really didn't care who took me, but my parents had a weird feeling it would be the Red Sox. They had shown an interest in me prior to the draft, and I guess my folks got a good sense that it would be them.
RSN: You played in the Cape Cod League last year -- how did that come about?
MC: An assistant coach at Utah had gone down to Brewster and learned from their head coach that Yarmouth-Dennis needed someone. That led to the Yarmouth-Dennis coach giving me a call. Playing on the Cape was a good experience.
RSN: Did you make it to Fenway Park when you were there?
MC: I did, and it was great. My host mom on the Cape had box seats behind the Red Sox dugout, and it was really cool to see a game from that vantage point. Fenway is amazing.
RSN: What are some of your interests off the baseball diamond?
MC: I'm into music. I've been playing the drums for a couple of years and am into just about everything except country. I mostly like rock and punk -- Blink-182, Korn, even Eric Clapton and Dave Matthews.
RSN: Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with Red Sox Nation?
MC: Only that I couldn't be having a better time anywhere else. The opportunity ahead of me is amazing, because it's always been my dream to play major league baseball. Now I have a chance to do just that -- what could be better?
RSN: That big hit off of Mariano Rivera might be one thing, Matt. Good luck in someday getting that opportunity, and thanks for taking the time.
MC: You're welcome.