Spring Q&A with Sean Ratliff

Ratliff believes 2011 could be a big year

Sean Ratliff rather quietly put together one of the best seasons on the farm last year. He showed important growth the bat, including some of the best power in the organization. Now, Ratliff wants to continue his success during what could be a defining season with the Mets. Inside Pitch caught up with the outfielder to find out about his offseason, his spring training and more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: You're coming off the best season of your career and heading into a very important year. But first, can you just give insight into what your offseason was like?

Sean Ratliff: I didn't have much to do this winter. I ended the year with a little shoulder pinch and ended up not playing winter ball or anything. I did a week and a half of rehab and it felt better. I spent the winter in Arizona working out with Ike Davis two or three times a week and we spent the other two or three days per week working out on our own. We wanted to get into shape and get ready to go.

Inside Pitch: Coming off the year you had, is there anything new to your routine or does it go the other way and give you more cause to stick with what worked?

Ratliff: Actually, my routine was quite a bit different this year than the year before. I spent a lot of time in Colorado with friends and family during the offseason, just hanging out. It was a long year or more between having my first full year in 2009 and backing that up with the long year in 2010. That was the first time I did that, so it took a lot out of my physically. It was good to kind of shut it down for a bit and relax a little bit. After the year I had last year, I've wanted to make sure I could replicate it and make sure I'm ready to go. It's those real good players that can put a good year on top of the previous year. That's what makes the difference in good players. I was really concerned with staying sharp and being ready to duplicate what I did last year.

Inside Pitch: Coming off a year like that, does it give you more motivation or does it actually make you more measured so you don't get ahead of yourself?

Ratliff: It's what this game is about – you can't look get too far ahead of yourself or look too far into the future. If my goals coming into the year are to have a year like I did last year, I'm going to be looking too far ahead. Once you get ahead of yourself, it just comes back to get you. I'm pretty focused on starting the season well and taking it one ballgame at a time and continuing to improve on the things I know I need to work on. I just want to put together a solid year without thinking too much about it.

Inside Pitch: There was a lot of turnover as far as coaches and everyone else go. Could you sense a difference in camp this year?

Ratliff: It was a different environment in camp 2009 during Tony's (Bernazard) last year and 2010 when TC (Terry Collins) took things over. It was a lighter camp, a more upbeat camp when Terry was running camp, and then Dickie Scott and J.P. (Ricciardi) and Sandy (Alderson) came in. It's been really upbeat with a lot of energy. You can tell that Sandy and J.P. and Terry, from the top on down, they've put it into everybody – the coaches and the players – that we plan to win ballgames at every level. It's been expected of them, it's been expected of the coaching staff and it's on the players as well. We're expected to do things the right way, play hard and win games.

Inside Pitch: As far as your camp is concerned, is there something you wanted to come in and work on? Something that would help you get your season underway on the right foot?

Ratliff: Not one thing in particular. The thing with spring training is that no matter how hard you work in the offseason or how much time you put in the weight room, you come into spring training and there's enough time playing baseball to get ready for the season. You just want to physically prepare for the season, get some innings, at-bats, see pitchers and get your rhythm back for what's going to be another long season.

Inside Pitch: After the winter and all of the conditioning, you feel like you're ready to handle that 140-plus game schedule?

Ratliff: Oh yea, absolutely. Our strength and conditioning guys are very good at what they do. They make sure that whether you come into camp in shape or not, you're going to leave camp in shape.

Inside Pitch: Speaking of facing pitchers, what are some of your thoughts of the Mets guys you've faced in camp so far?

Ratliff: We've only played a few intersquad games. I've sat in and faced live batting practice against guys I usually face like Brad Holt and Jenrry Mejia, who both give you a good test during the spring. The new guy, Matt Harvey, he's real sharp. He looks very good. He's got good poise on the mound, good command and he can really bring it with the fastball. He's impressed me quite a bit with what's he done on and off the mound. In all though, I think we've got a lot of good young arms who can all do a bunch of different things and have their strengths.

Inside Pitch: At the end of 2009 you got a taste of St. Lucie and then went back there to start the 2010 season, which from where I sat looked like it set you on a good course in Binghamton. Should you go back to Binghamton to start the season, is returning to a level to start the year really something that can catapult a season?

Ratliff: Whether it's Buffalo or Binghamton, it's not going to be too different. It's going to be cold and the pitching is going to be really good. You've got to get focused real quick. It's going to be like my high school days playing in the snow in Colorado, but other than that it's pretty much the same for me. I won't have to learn new fields or how the wind blows or how the walls play and that takes away a lot of uncertainty you have about playing in a new league. I do know that Binghamton is a comfortable park to play in as a hitter. I go in there knowing that if I get one good it's going to go out or hit off the wall. One way or another it's pretty much going to be same situation. I just try to take it one game at a time and keep working toward moving up.

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