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April 29, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Q&A with Argenis Diaz

The Red Sox signed Argenis Diaz as an international free agent in July of 2003 out of Guatire, Venezuela. The slick fielding shortstop began his career in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2004 and has steadily risen through the ranks of the organization, joining the Portland Sea Dogs mid-way through the 2008 season. After spending some time in the major league camp this spring, Diaz broke camp with the Sea Dogs looking to sharpen his skills and make his push towards the big league roster. Chris Mellen of SoxProspects.com recently had a chance to sit down with Diaz and talk some baseball.

Chris Mellen: You’ve spent the last couple of Spring Trainings in major league camp. What type of experience has that been for you with regards to your growth as a player?
Argenis Diaz
: It’s been great. Last year (2008) was the best Spring Training I’ve had in my career. This year, I felt pretty good, but it wasn’t like that year for me. I struggled a bit with my hitting and just didn’t play as well as I would have liked to in the field. I had trouble getting comfortable this season, but it’s been a good experience for me to see where I have to get to as a player and the improvement I need to make.

CM: Can you talk about the difference between playing at Lancaster in the California League and now playing at Portland in the Eastern League?
AD: It’s been different - real different. Down there, they throw fastballs in 3-1, 2-0 counts and will give in to you. Here, (at Portland) you don’t see as many fastballs and they don’t throw as many fastballs in those hitter’s counts. Pitchers will throw you change-ups and off-speed pitches in any count. It’s harder to hit the ball and you have to be ready for any pitch. The pitching is obviously better and they have better control of their pitches.

CM: Give us a self scouting report on Argenis Diaz.
AD: First I’d say an improving hitter, but also a hitter who can improve some more to get to the big leagues. In the field, [I’m] a shortstop working to get better and sharpen his defensive game. I’m a player who is going to play the game the right way and likes to have fun while playing the game. I have a lot of fun playing baseball.

CM: Who has been a teammate that has impressed you the most here in Portland?
: Josh Reddick. He’s awesome. I’ve had a chance to play with him for the past couple of years and he can really hit. Josh is exciting to watch and he’s not that far off from playing in the big leagues.

CM: What do the Red Sox have you focusing on the most this season?
AD: They want me to focus the most on my defense and be the best defensive player I can be. I’ve been working to play right everyday, to practice the right way, and make the routine plays.

CM: What’s going to get you promoted to Pawtucket?
AD: They want me to make the routine plays. We’ve talked about how I make the great plays, but sometimes struggle with the routine plays, and [I need] to work on that aspect of my game. It’s about making every play out there and getting better at that to take the next step. I’d like to keep hitting the ball consistently and improve on that aspect of my game as well.

CM: Why have the routine plays given you trouble?
: I don’t really know. When the ball is hit right at me, sometimes I just get myself into trouble. When it is on either side, it just is a natural reaction I guess. I’m working on it a lot before games and in practice. Every day, I take about 20-30 routine balls hit right at me to work on it. We’re working on the angle I take to the ball and to circle around it more rather than heading straight at it. When I go straight into the play, I have trouble seeing the bounce of the ball and can’t track it. I’ve been seeing the bounce a lot better circling around it, so things have been improving there and getting better for me thus far into the season.

CM: Who has been the most influential in your career within the Red Sox organization?
: I’d say Victor Rodriguez ( Minor League Hitting Coordinator). We talk a lot about hitting and he has helped me get better as I have advanced as a player, along with becoming more comfortable in general. In the beginning when I started as a pro, I wasn’t that great of a hitter. Victor and I have done a lot of work together. Year after year, I have started recognizing the pitches better and understand the strike zone better. Now, I’m able to pick up the pitches a lot better than when I started, draw a few walks, and keep getting the bat on the ball. My hitting still needs some more work, but Victor has helped me come a long way from my first season in Venezuela.