On Monday evening, Zack Greinke took a huge step forward in his quest to return to the KC rotation. …
RC interview with Chris Lubanski
Royals Corner: Chris, when we last spoke during the off-season, I asked you about what you expected to see in your move up to Double-A. How do you feel your transition Wichita has gone thus far?
Chris Lubanski: Coming into the season, I knew it was going to be a pretty big jump from A-ball, and it's proven to be. The pitchers are more advanced – they know how to pitch better and how to find your weaknesses a lot faster. This year, I actually got off to the best start of my career, which was a little funny. I got up to over .300 in early May and then hit a little slump for a couple of weeks. That month, I learned a lot about hitting. I probably learned more in the last month about hitting than I did in my first three years of playing ball. I had a really good game before the All-Star break, went home, and re-looked over things to figure out what I needed to do for the second half. I made some adjustments, and it's starting to work out. Everywhere I go, I know I'm going to have to learn, and go through struggles. The biggest thing I want to do is learn and keep improving every day.
RC: Speaking of those adjustments, over the last few weeks, it does seem like you've been swinging the bat better, and your numbers are starting to climb again. What adjustments have you been making?
CL: The biggest one is getting up there and just relaxing. The other thing is just trying to get a good pitch to hit. Pitches that I used to be able to get away with swinging at, now they're moving a little more, they're spotting a little better. I'm trying to limit my swings up there and zone in on a pitch that I can drive. If I don't get it, I let it go, and if I get it, I take advantage of it. The last few weeks, I've been taking a lot of counts deeper, and I've been walking a lot more, which has helped me to see the ball better too.
RC: What would you consider your greatest remaining offensive weakness? What are you working on the most to improve?
CL: I'm really trying to sit back on the change-up. That's probably the one pitch that gives me the most trouble. Each year I've gotten better. In Burlington, you could have probably thrown me three change-ups in a row and I wouldn't have made an adjustment. Last year, it was the change-up in the dirt. Now, I don't swing at it as much, and I don't swing at the one at the dirt anymore. It's at the point where I can maybe start hitting it with authority. That's probably the biggest change I have to make.
RC: Let's talk a little bit about that home run you hit yesterday (Monday). Do you remember what pitch the pitcher threw you?
CL: Yeah, I started the inning, and I was just trying to focus on a first-pitch fastball, and trying to hit it up the middle. I was pulling out earlier in the game, so I was just really focusing on driving the ball up the middle. Luckily, I guessed right, and I put a pretty good swing on it.
RC: You've jumped around in the lineup quite a bit this year, hitting in what seems like every conceivable spot. Do you have any preference? Do you feel that you hit better at any particular spot in the lineup?
CL: I love the top of the lineup. Last year, during the second half, I was three and I hit really well there. I like the two-hole though – it fits me well for my ability. I have some speed, so I can use the bunt when I need to, and I'm a pretty good situational hitter, which is what the number two guy is there for. I've got some pop for the two-hole too, so I really like that two-hole. It gives me a lot of options to use, and I can utilize my talent a lot more there.
RC: Let's switch gears a bit and talk about your defense. How do you feel about how your defense is progressing? And also, how are you taking to left field, after moving there from center this season?
CL: I like left field a lot. When I first moved there, I think I've had three errors in left field this year, and one tonight. That error tonight was probably my worst one I've had all year. Afterwards, I was like "what just happened?" Anyway, probably the biggest adjustment I've had with left field is the way the ball tails. In center field, whenever the ball's hit to you, it's straight, and you pretty much know where it's going. The big thing with the corner outfield spots, especially left field, is that the ball tails to the line all the time. When I first moved out there, I wasn't used to it at all. I would always break back on balls right at me, and the ball would end up to my right. The first week I was out in left field, I dropped two routine fly balls just because of that. Since then, over the last month, it's been real good until that play tonight. I have good speed, so I can cover a lot of ground out there, and I can stop guys from going to second on balls down the line. I have the speed to do it and the arm to do it. My defense is coming along. I've made a lot of improvement this year with my jumps, and I robbed my first home run ever a couple of weeks ago. It feels like it's getting better.
RC: Finally, who would you consider the biggest nut in the clubhouse, among the other guys on the team?
CL: I think I'll have to go with [Billy] Butler. Some of the things he says are just mind-boggling to us. He probably makes us laugh the most, just because he's Billy. He does some things and says some things that you can't imagine anyone else doing – he's funny.
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