Q&A With Bill Masse - Part I

Masse Believes Melky Cabrera Is Holding His Own

The Trenton Thunder were one of the hottest teams in the Eastern League before the Binghamton Mets series. They came into the series with a 15-7 May record only to get swept and drop to third in the division. Manager Bill Masse, who was a Class AAA Player of the Year in 1993, is currently in his first season as the Thunder leader. Before the final game of the series, Masse sat down with PinstripesPlus for a Q&A. (Free Preview of Premium Content)

PinstripesPlus: I would like to start by asking you about the infield. Is it easier for you have a couple of older guys wrapped around a young kid like Eric Duncan? Do they help him along?

Bill Masse: Well, it is also Shelly Duncan's first year in double A so it's not like he is more advanced experience wise. The thing with Eric is, he does not really need much help. He is a very mature kid for his age. Eric is going to be fine; he puts in his work and works just as hard as and maybe even harder than most guys.

PinstripesPlus: How much did it hurt losing your starting second baseman, Gabe Lopez? (Gabe Lopez was promoted to AAA Columbus on May 28th)

Bill Masse: Well having Lopez at second helped our team out a lot. He was more of a talking guy, chatting it up all the time. He is a real tough component to lose. He was the heart and soul of this team. But other guys have to pick it up and that is the bottom line. He was definitely the leader on the field.

PinstripesPlus: How do you feel Melky Cabrera is doing so far this season?

Bill Masse: I think Melky is doing just fine. I mean he is another young guy, like Eric, and I think the two of them are the youngest guys in the league. He is really is holding his own and he'll be able to hold hit own because he can flat out hit. One thing he needs to work on is being more discipline at the plate. He likes to go up there and swing at everything. Unfortunately for him, he can put bad balls into play which will be outs.

PinstripesPlus: So once he learns discipline, do you feel he will really start dominating?

Bill Masse: Well as he moves up levels, the pitching gets better and they'll be able to exploit his weaknesses. I told him if he was in the big leagues right now he would never see a strike. They would just throw him junk and watch him get himself out. Fortunately, in the Minor Leagues guys don't have the command and will miss sometimes and he'll be able to get a hold of it. But all he really needs is more experience. I mean he is 20-years old and once he learns discipline, he is going to be one hell of a player. Being so young, guys like him and Eric are kind of learning on the fly right now, but they will figure it out.

PinstripesPlus: Your pitching staff is really starting to come along with guys like Jeff Karstens and Matt DeSalvo, and having a closer like Justin Pope. Are you feeling confident in whoever you trot out to the mound?

Bill Masse: Yeah, I mean we are really short handed right now. Part of running a baseball team is realizing that guys get hurt and guys are going to get promoted and stuff. But for the most part, we have been fine. We were walking too many guys during the beginning of the season and that always hurts. We have moved some guys into the rotation from the bullpen and we're trying to make do.

PinstripesPlus: So what kind of things have you had to deal with as far as the pitching staff goes this season?

Bill Masse: Well we basically lost our ace four games into the season, that being Sean Henn. But you know he deserved to get the promotion and he did. It's good to see him doing well up there. Then we lost Steven White, who became our ace after Sean left, to an injury after his second start. Then Danny Borrell came up and he went on the disabled list. And even DeSalvo is another one of our big time pitchers that is hurting now too. But you know as a manager it is my job to make the right moves and hope they work out.

Part II of the interview will be available to PinstripesPlus.com Premium Subscribers.

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