By now, the story of Evan Gattis' unnatural road to minor league baseball and the Braves organization is pretty well known. If you somehow haven't heard it, or just want a refresher, here's a good version of it from the AJC's David O'Brien.
Gattis joined MLB Network Radio's "Power Alley" show with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin yesterday to talk about his life before minor league baseball, his time in the Venezuelan Winter League, and his thoughts on spring training.
You can hear Gattis talk about his past in this interview clip, and here are some quotes from the rest of Gattis' interview. Enjoy.
On what he got the most out of in winter ball:
Gattis: "I really think it was the environment. The fans...I'm not joking, the first exhibition game I played was in a little town called Cabimas, and it was the most intense game by far that I've ever been a part of. I had no idea what to expect; I don't think anybody ever does the first time. The environment, the fans, and the pressure — everybody really really wants you to do good. I think the pressure and environment was the best for me; to be able to handle it."
On playing left field in winter ball:
"It's good though. It's going good. What better place than Venezuelan outfields to learn. There's not a boring moment in the Venezuelan League. After one pitch in games, there's been fireworks shows in right field, just smoking the fans with ash and all that other stuff. It's definitely different.
On how it felt playing baseball again after being away from the game for a few years:
"It took some time. It definitely took some time (to get used to it). Some things were still there, and some things definitely weren't. Really, I only had one year of college instruction before going to pro ball, which really helped too, I think. I think people are, not programmed, but they've done things a certain way so long... I think I was kind of open, a little bit at least, to the instruction that I've been getting in the Braves organization."
On being grateful that he landed with an organization known for developing players like the Braves:
"Absolutely. I wish I could watch some of the things I was doing in rookie ball. Catching, hitting, everything, just overall understanding of the game. I wish I could watch what I was doing just because I've come a long way, I feel like, and I'm really grateful for my coaches. I hope to pass that on. I feel like I know a lot more."
On spring training last year:
"With big league camp (last spring), I was kind of freaking out a little bit. I was almost in tears last year on the first day. I went from being in my living room to working on receiving next to Brian McCann. I pinched myself then, for sure."
On potentially breaking camp with the big league team:
"I want to learn. I want to get better, and I want to learn. Wherever I end up (out of ST), that's where I'm going to end up. Obviously, I want to be in the big leagues, but I want to learn and I want to get better. Spring training, regardless of where I go at the end of it, will be awesome to be around all of the guys that have been there (in the majors) already."