How's it going, this is Matt and I'm happy to be with you online here!
What made you want to be a catcher? You obviously have the arm to play 3rd and the size to play 1st. Was it your idea? A coach's idea? Or did your speed push you in that direction? Or being in on every play of the game?
I think growing up, you spend a lot of your time in Little League pitching or catching. I loved doing it, and once I got older, I loved being in on every play and being in on every pitch before it was coming.
What do you think of the O's recent moves?
I think it's looking bright for the future. Especially getting Markakis signed. You have to start with young talent, and the Orioles have a lot of that already at the big league level.
Thoughts on playing in A.L. East?
I think it's great. It's the best division in baseball, talent-wise. You have to bring your best game to the park each day in order to even compete. Competition makes you better, and it's something I hope to learn from.
Scouts said that your one area of weakness was inexperience calling a game behind the plate. How much did last year help you out calling a game? Do you think it will help you in the future that you caught guys like Tillman and Arrieta who should be in the majors with you soon?
I think it's always a great experience when you can catch guys with major-league ability. That way you can learn with them. It's always fun to work with them in order to call the best game possible.
Are you excited to get to learn from a seasoned veteran such as Gregg Zaun?
Definitely. Anytime you can learn from a guy with that much experience, it's something you can benefit from. I learned a great deal from Ramon as well last year.
Matt, Welcome! I am a big Orioles Fan and looking forward to you coming up to the show in '09. My question for you is what was the feeling you had when you saw yourself on a baseball card for the first time?
It's really a feeling where--you're growing up as a kid looking at the cards, and it's something special to see yourself on one. A kid back in my hometown might be looking at my card right now.
Just wondering if you have ever met Jason Varitek, since you both went to the same school and play the same position. I'd think it would be pretty neat to be on the same team with Tek if that somehow came to pass.
He comes back to the Georgia Tech banquet every year, and we've met before. It's weird to see a guy you've followed all those years come back, but we have a good time at the banquet.
What do you think of playing in Camden Yards? Can you hit the warehouse?
I don't know about that, but I'm definitely looking forward to playing there. It's not going to have all the bells and whistles of the newest parks, but it's beautiful and will be around for a long time.
Matt...we in Baltimore, as Orioles fans are excited to have a talent such as yourself on our team. Do you feel any pressure coming to a losing team, such as the fans really expecting you to help turn this ship around?
The one thing is that you'll always be competing to win. That drives me, and it will be a group effort. The Orioles have a lot of young guys who can turn it around with time and hard work.
Who was your favorite player as a kid? Any favorite Orioles?
As far as favorite Orioles, I think everybody had Cal Ripken--he's one guy you always followed and was really amazed. I grew up in South Carolina, so we got a lot of Braves games, and Chipper Jones was my favorite. He always made it so easy both on the field and at bat.
What is more exciting for you. Hitting a HR or throwing out a base runner trying to steal a base?
You love the feeling of hitting a home run, but when you throw out a baserunner, it feels like you've helped your team out of a jam, and you've helped your pitcher.
Crabcake: fried or broiled?
I'm a big crab fan. Put any type in front of me, and I'll eat it. But broiled is probably my favorite--healthier as well.
Catching is the most physically demanding position in baseball day in and day out. What do you do during the season to stay in shape and keep going for 162 games?
It's constant stretching, keeping your muscles loose as you're going along. If you can get to the park early and get some extra stretching in, it helps as the season goes along. You're going to take a pounding back there.
What do you think of the Ga Tech led by Murton and Dietrich this year?
I definitely think they have a good chance in the ACC this year. They are ranked high this year, but it will take a lot of work. That being said, they have a great middle of the order, and a good pitching staff, so they'll be right in there.
Who was the toughest pitcher you faced last year?
Numerous pitchers come to mind, but Tommy Henson last year in Arizona was probably the toughest. He really knows how to bear down on you when he's got two strikes.
What are your thoughts on occasionally playing 1B or DH? What other positions are you comfortable playing?
I like playing anywhere. My first love is catching, but anytime you can get a break from behind the plate, it's a good thing. But I'll play wherever they put me. I like being in the lineup.
What do you think of being the #1 prospect in baseball as ranked by espn?
It's a great honor, but I still have to put in hard work and get ready for the season. It's nice to get things published about me, but when it comes down to it, you have to do your talking on the field.
Thanks for having me on here, and I look forward to getting on the field this season!