Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Mike Massaro, CF

Massaro has been a sparkplug for the Cougars.

Mike Massaro has found his groove. After starting the year 0-14 at the plate, Massaro has turned it around hitting near .400 for the month of May. Hitting safely in 16 of his last 18 games out of the leadoff spot, Massaro has recently jumped into the top-10 in the league in batting average. We caught up with the Colorado native to talk about how he became the team's most consistent hitter.

After missing some of the 2006 season with a broken wrist, Kane County centerfielder Mike Massaro is back healthy and off to a good start to his 2007 campaign. The left-handed hitter is batting a team-leading .316. We spoke to Massaro during the Kane County Cougars' current homestand.

Oakland Clubhouse: You struggled a bit early this year as far as hitting is concerned, what do you attribute to that?

Mike Massaro: I was trying a little too hard. I was pressing too much and wanted to do too much too fast. I didn't just let things happen, I tried to force them and that got me into trouble.

OC: Since April your hitting has been night and day. What changes have you made to turn the season around?

MM: Me and Benny [Winslow - the Cougars hitting coach] have worked on my swing a lot. We went over the tapes and nothing about my swing has changed so I think most of it has been mental.

OC: How important is it for you to set the tone for the team as a leadoff hitter?

MM: I think it's important. When we get out to an early lead we tend to play better baseball. I don't put pressure on myself at all by any means, but it's nice to leadoff a game by getting on base and scoring runs for the team.

OC: You've also batted in the nine spot for this team, does where you are batting change your mindset going into the batters box and possibly change how aggressive you are?

MM: The nine-hole is just another leadoff. So my role hasn't really changed because I take the same approach to every at bat.

OC: You were here last year with the team, does it help to have some experience?

MM: Definitely. Experience plays a big part. When you talk to the older guys, they know so much more because they have been around the game a long time. The experience of being here last year, knowing what it's about, knowing what needs to be done, it helps out a lot.

OC: How important is on-base percentage to you? Is a walk as good as a hit?

MM: A walk is just as good as a hit. They (coaches) focus more on your on-base percentage rather than your average. A leadoff guy has to get on base any way he can. It doesn't matter if you get hit by a pitch or reach on an error. As long as you're getting on base you're doing your job.

OC: Recently, you've moved into the top-10 in batting average in the league and have hit safely in 16 of your last 18 games, are these goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the season?

MM: Yeah. I'm a perfectionist, which can be a bad thing at times. It's always a goal to be at the top. If you don't want to be the best you shouldn't play the game. I just need to do what I know I can do and keep it up.

OC: What are some areas you think you could improve upon?

MM: There's always room for improvement. Whether it be base running, stealing bases, getting better jumps, or reading the ball better in the outfield, there's always something I can do better.

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