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A play-by-play guy trying to survive in a mid-major world

How to Make an All-Star Nervous

Indianapolis Indians 1B Matt Hague finished the month of June in style.  Thursday afternoon he was named to the Triple-A All-Star game and hours later the 25-year-old was a perfect 3-3 driving in the Tribe’s first two runs and scoring the final run in their 3-0 win over Syracuse.  “There has been a lot of adrenaline today.  After talking with my family for most of the day I had to get back up emotionally for the game.  It’s been a long day, but a great day.”  Hague will join manager Dean Treanor at the All-Star game in Salt Lake and it provides his family with a unique opportunity.  Hague is orginally from Washtington and spends his off seasons in Seattle.  “My family just watches online and because I have always been on the east coast they have never watched me play in person.  They work all the time and it’s tough to get away so I’m hoping that they can get to the game in Salt Lake.  I’d love to have them there and it’s pretty cool if an All-Star game is the first game they see.” 

Photo by Bill Gentry

Recent promotions of INF Chase d’Arnaud and OF Alex Presley changed the face of the All-Star game.  Presley led all outfielders in votes and would have been a slam dunk for the game.  d’Arnaud finished 2nd in fan voting at SS and had an outside shot at making the team.  Both players were ineligible for the All-Star team because they are currently playing everyday for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their rise to the big leagues is fueling Matt Hague.  For the first time in three years the player movement in Triple-A has separated Hague, d’Arnaud, Presley, and Josh Harrision.  “It’s weird not having them in the locker room and I’m trying to get where they are.  They keep texting me and telling me how great it is in the big leagues.  It’s encouraging because they are telling me I can play up there and believe me, I’m trying.” 

Matt Hague is on the verge of the big leagues thanks to his record-setting June.  Hague batted .402 for the month finishing the final 13 games with a .529 average.  His 43 June hits are the most in a single month since the Pirates and Indians starting working together in 2005.  Hague’s .449 on-base percentage is one of highest for a single month and his .645 slugging percentage places him in the top three for a single month.  “I know how good the numbers have been and the key has been to avoid the rollercoaster and stay consistent.  I don’t want to give away any at-bats and that not an easy thing to do.  I’ve learned just how important each at-bat is and my focus has been on the current at-bat and current pitching sequence.”  In June, Matt Hague had 43 hits in 107 at-bats with only 8 strikeouts and not only are the fans noticing, but so is the skipper of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“Clint Hurdle gave me a call to congratulate me on the All-Star game.  I don’t know how many big league coaches would take the time to call a minor leaguer and it meant a lot to me.”  I asked Dean Treanor how many Major League managers would call to congratulate a minor league player.  “Not many, you could count them on one hand.  It’s a classy move by Clint and gives you an idea what kind of guy he is and why guys respond to him.”  When Hurdle first called Matt it went to his voicemail.  “I missed his call and I couldn’t believe he left me a voicemail.  When I called him back he was in his office with Neil Walker and they were shouting congrats to me over the speaker phone.  Then Clint told me to keep playing the way I have been because they are aware of what I’m doing.  He gave me a shot of confidence and I can’t tell you how cool it was to talk to him.”  Hague has never met Hurdle and as the phone was ringing he couldn’t contain his nerves.  “I’m not joking, I was sweating when I called him back.  C’mon this is the manager of the Pirates and I’m just calling his cell phone.  I was so nervous, but he was calm and cool and told me that I’m a good player.”

Did Matt Hague just complete the best month ever for an Indian since the Pirates relationship started in 2005? 

Matt Hague, June 2011 (ranking based on hitters with at least 70 at-bats)

Batting average .402:  1st

On-Base % .449:  Tied for 3rd (1st Steve Peace .474 April 2010, 79AB)

Slugging % .645:  3rd (1st Ronny Paulino .784 June 2005 74 AB)

Hits 43: 1st passing Rajai Davis who had 40 hits in May 2007

“I’m really focused in on making each at-bat count and I’m aware that my friends are in the big leagues and I’m in Indianapolis.  Watching guys go up and hear from them about how great it is in Pittsburgh has giving me a new focus.  In the lower levels you expect to spend an entire season at that level, but I’m finding out here your goal is to get to the big leagues as quickly as you can.”  For now, Matt Hague is the first baseman for the Indians and in my opinion he just completed the best month ever for a Pirates minor league player in Indianapolis.  If he continues on this tear Hague’s parents may bypass Salt Lake and watch their son play as a pro in a Major League city.

Photo by Bill Gentry

Entering Friday night game at Syracuse Hague has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games batting .529 (27-41).  An incredible 27 hits in his last 13 games and he takes a 6 game hitting streak into the game.   

*****

Hope you can join us for Friday’s broadcast.  First pitch from Syracuse will be at 7:00 on SportsRadio 1260 WNDE.

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One thought on “How to Make an All-Star Nervous

  1. Vivian Whitaker on said:

    So happy for Matt:-) He’s having a great season!!!!!! Classy call from Clint Hurdle!!! Believe that the Pirates and Indians willhave winning seasons this year:-)

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