Houston Astros: Talking Stros with the Real Matt Duffy (Interview)

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Matt Duffy, Houston Astros, Photo Credit to Tammy Tucker
Matt Duffy, Houston Astros, Photo Credit to Tammy Tucker /
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Talking Stros Chat with Houston Astros’ Player Matt Duffy

The Houston Astros pitchers and catchers report on February 18th, which marks the beginning of another season for the team. They have improved so much from 2014 to 2015 and the Astros are expected to be World Series contenders this year. Part of what is currently leading to the Astros success is the depth of the team at every position, except for catcher. One of those players who looks to contribute greatly this year is Matt Duffy. Not the one who helped the Giants reach the World Series in 2014, but the one who should be helping the Astros in 2016.

As part of a new Astros talk show called Talking Stros, we interview minor leaguers, big leaguers, and people who have great knowledge about baseball. We started the show in December of 2015, and we have interviewed many people. With cooperation with CTH, I have transcribed the interviews about posted them on Climbing Tal’s Hill as podcasts. We have gotten positive feedback, so I wanted to take a moment to share all the recent interviews that Talking Stros has done, which I will do following the interview.

As you can see, we have been able to interview most of the younger players in the Astros organization. We have also interviewed Evan Drellich, Brady Rodgers, and A.J. Reed, but the connection was bad for Reed. However, the one player that I really wanted to get a hold of was Matt Duffy, because I didn’t know that much about him before last season when he won the Triple-A MVP award during his time with the Grizzlies.

Let’s get to the Duffy interview, you may listen to the podcast below or continue reading.

Matt Duffy Interview

CTH/TexSR: How are things going for you right now Matt?

Duffy: It’s going great, looking forward to getting out of the cold weather in Boston in a few weeks.

CTH/TexSR: How much snow have you gotten up in Boston?

Duffy: No snow right now, it’s been a mild winter up here, nothing like last year, we were buried last year. The weather is starting to turn; I’m just looking forward to getting to Florida though.

CTH/TexSR: Are you a big Patriots fan growing up in Boston?

Duffy: Yes, I am a huge Pats fan, it was tough to watch that game the other weekend, I wish they were playing this Sunday, but that was a tough one to swallow.I’m rooting for Peyton so he can go out on a high note.

CTH/TexSR: What did you think of the movie Fever Pitch, did it accurately portray Boston?

Duffy: Yes and no, it was a little overblown obviously. It was pretty funny, Jimmy Fallon is a funny guy in general, but I can relate a little growing up a huge Red Sox fan. There are fans around here like that generally, do or die, but it has cooled off a little recently after they won two World Series, we are completely spoiled up here with all sports. (Whatever, we have the Astros and Matt Duffy!) Houston is great obviously, I enjoyed talking to fans down there. I got to see the Astros buzz, and it was very exciting.

CTH/TexSR: Matt Duffy, Triple-A MVP, you scored 94 runs, hit 24 homers, 104 RBIs, 48 walks, and you batted .294, what was that like?

Duffy: I just try to be as consistent as I can day in and day out, it’s a long season so I pride myself in my approach and coming to the park every day and working as hard as I can. I trust myself that the numbers will be there at the end of the year, in this case, they were, it’s just hard work paying off.

CTH/TexSR: You were with the Astros when Fresno was in the playoffs right?

Duffy: Correct, for the first series I was with Fresno, but the last two I was up with the Astros.

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CTH/TexSR: You didn’t get to win the Championship, but was it worth making your MLB debut?

Duffy: It was tough to leave the guys, but it was obviously a dream come true making my debut. It would have been nicer if the Grizzlies weren’t in the playoffs, but it was a fantastic call to get. I’m glad the guys finished it off and took care of business.

CTH/TexSR: How did you find out about your call-up?

Duffy: We had just beaten Round Rock, we went out and had a team dinner in celebration. The next morning I got a knock on my door of my room, it was like 8:30 in the morning, and three coaches were standing outside. They said, “pack your bags, you are going to the big leagues!” It was a whirlwind couple of hours trying to call my family to allow for them to be able to buy plane tickets to Texas.

CTH/TexSR: Tell us about your actual debut.

Duffy: I came in defensively for Jed Lowrie, Jed had fouled a ball off his foot and was limping around, it was uncomfortable for him. He tried to play through it, but eventually the game got out of hand, so it was a good time to give him a breather. I got in there, made a few plays, grounded out my first at-bat, don’t think I have ever ran that fast down the line before. I walked my second at-bat; it was an out of body experience.

CTH/TexSR: In your limited time, what did you take away from your time with the Astros?

Duffy: The most important thing for me on a confidence level was knowing that I belonged there and that it is truely the same game like the veteran guys would always tell us. When they call you up, they tell you that it’s the same game, don’t change anything, you are here for a reason. After getting some playing time and at-bats as well as spending time with the guys, it helped my confidence going into this year knowing that I belong.

CTH/TexSR: What are you more comfortable playing, first or third base?

Duffy: I get asked that a lot, I don’t really have an answer. I think that they are equal, I played more third, so if I had to give an answer, I would say third. But, first base comes very easily, it’s an easier transition from third to first then it is vis versa. From the footwork perspective, you have to use your feet more at third, but that helps you at first as well. You become a better defender if you can move around better. More comfortable at third, but enjoy the occasional start at first. The hardest thing was the picks in the dirt, that took a second to learn.

CTH/TexSR: Your primary competition for both positions is Jon Singleton and Luis Valbuena at both positions, who are both left-handed, does you batting right-handed give you a better chance?

Duffy: Yes definitely, with the way matchups are used in the big leagues, and the bullpen plays such a big role. I got a good taste of what it’s like to pinch hit and come off the bench. If they bring in a lefty from the bullpen, they would have me for a matchup purpose. I just have to be solid on offense and defense. I think that helps out a manager too when he knows he has options.

CTH/TexSR: Did you have a favorite baseball player growing up?

Duffy: I have to say Manny Ramirez, when he was in his prime with Boston, he was doing some special things. Also, I liked Pedro Martinez, I pitched a little as a kid, so those two would be my go to guys?

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CTH/TexSR: No Johnny Damon?

Duffy: No, but he was a character with his hair and his beard, he was a fan favorite, but it’s hard to beat the right-handed Ramirez. Whenever Pedro was pitching, you had to tune in and watch. I got a chance to meet Manny when he was a player/coach for the Iowa Cubs. I was playing first base and he got a single, it was a great moment for myself and my teammates.

CTH/TexSR: Did he give you any good hitting tips?

Duffy: He said that he liked my swing, I don’t know if he was serious or not, he told me that I have a nice swing and I should keep working.

CTH/TexSR: I know there is the other Matt Duffy in the big leagues, you heard about him right?

Duffy: Yeah, I got a chance to meet him in the minors, I knew all about him. I played against him at High-A.

CTH/TexSR: Who are your buddies you hang out with in Fresno?

Duffy: We were a close-knit group of guys, tons of characters on that team. I’m friends with Nolan Fontana, and I roomed with Joe Sclafani and Andrew Aplin. Aplin has to take the award for class clown, he is hilarious, he keeps the clubhouse loose.

CTH/TexSR: How did you like being part of Club Astros?

Duffy: It was great, obviously when you get called up, you just kind of be seen and not heard, I was being the rookie and just sat there and tried to watch how everyone went about their business. I tried to learn the ropes, but the guys took me right in, I felt like I was part of the team right away. They have a lot of fun and being on a winning team helped. After the game, they played music in the clubhouse and George Springer is dancing, it was great.

CTH/TexSR: Did you spend your offseason trying to create a playlist for Springer?

Duffy: No, I’m pretty sure he has that covered, that’s not my forte, I’ll leave that up to him.

CTH/TexSR: Were you involved in the rookie dress up day?

Duffy: Yes I was, they dressed me up in the Giants Matt Duffy jersey, skirt, and a red wig. I had some leggings on, it wasn’t as revealing as some of the guys were, they let me off the hook a little, I didn’t have to show some skin. It was funny, threw on the wig with the Giants cap.

CTH/TexSR: I’ve noticed that you hit for more average versus left-handers and more power versus right-handers, is that accurate?

Duffy: Yes and no, when I look back throughout my minor league career, I don’t know how the splits would look, but it sounds about right. I feel like I see the ball out of a lefties hand better in college and as far back as I remember. In terms of power, I don’t care if it’s lefty or righty. With the lefty on the mound, with the breaking ball breaking into the strikezone versus out of the zone versus the righty pitchers, just have a sharper eye for the ball out of a lefties hands.

CTH/TexSR: What are your plans to get to spring training?

Duffy: I’m going to fly, that is being coordinated and stay at the hotel with most of the guys. I’ll get down there a few days early and get a few workouts in.

CTH/TexSR: What was it like playing for A.J. Hinch?

Duffy: He’s awesome, very calm dimener, when he talks, he demands the attention of the room. It’s nice as a player to have to know that the manager has your back. He is easy to talk to, even though I haven’t had a ton of conversations with him, but he’s not the type of guy who you would be afraid to have a conversation with. He led the Astros to a great season, and all the praise he got was well deserved.

CTH/TexSR: Is there something you are looking to improve upon this year?

Duffy: Everything, better defender, better base runner, and better hitter. Trying to be the most balanced player I could be, I want to be consistent in what I do. Whatever manager I am playing for, he will know what to get out of me everyday.

CTH/TexSR: Growing up in the Boston, how does it affect playing baseball?

Duffy: Growing up, I played all the sports, hockey and baseball, when I got older, I gravitated towards baseball. It’s not as hard as people think, but it’s not as easy as if you were groing up in Texas. You can practice baseball inside, but it doesn’t match what you can do on the field. Play less games, but we have great indoor facilities up here. You can get your work in, just miss the amount of games you can play in.

CTH/TexSR: What were you thinking when you found out that you were on the AL Wild Card game roster?

Duffy: That was obviously awesome, A.J. came up to me while I was shagging balls at batting practice and told me that I was live tomorrow, he kept it really short and told me to be ready to go we might need you later in the game.

It being in New York City at Yankee Stadium as a Boston fan growing up was pretty cool, it was an awesome experience to be in the dugout to watch Keuchel go up there and spin a gem like he did, something that I will never forget. Pouring champange all over that locker room was incredible.

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Here some past Talking Stros broadcasts.

Astros Prospects: Talking Stros w/ JJ Cooper, Defends Martes over Bregman

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Fresno POY Jordan Jankowski

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Chris Devenski (Interview)

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Tyler White (Interview)

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with RP Prospect James Hoyt (interview)

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Jon Kemmer (Interview)

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Alex Bregman (Interview)

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Preston Tucker (interview)

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Lance McCullers Jr (interview)

Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Billy Wagner (interview)

Thanks to Matt Duffy for taking the time to interview with the guys at Talking Stros. I look forward to talking to you again during Spring Training when you are winning the backup job at first and third base. If you would like to follow Duffy, you can do so at @meduffy13.

 

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