Questions and answers with Orioles' Jackson Holliday - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Questions and answers with Orioles’ Jackson Holliday

Jackson Holliday
Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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SARASOTA, Florida—Twenty-year-old Jackson Holliday is the top prospect in baseball and is making a strong push to be on the Orioles’ Opening Day roster. On Thursday, the shortstop/second baseman will participate in MLB’s Spring Breakout when a team of Orioles’ prospects play the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top prospects. The game will be shown on the MLB Network at 7 p.m.

Question: Are you excited about playing in the Spring Breakout game?

Holliday: “It should be fun. Any time that MLB sets something up like this, it’s pretty neat. I’ve enjoyed playing in the Futures games, and I think it’s something like that earlier in the season. It’s exciting to be able to play with a lot of guys that I’ve spent a lot of time with, especially guys I got drafted with. Obviously, a few of them during big league spring training. It will be fun. I’ll be excited. I’m only playing five innings, but it will be fun.”

Q: It seems as if every national reporter covering baseball has come in here interviewing you. Does that get tiring?

Holliday: “It’s fun. I enjoy doing interviews. I think it’s neat to be able to meet people … I think it’s also very important, as much as playing.”

Q: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned this spring?

Holliday: “Being able to face really good arms has been beneficial for me … To face guys like [Philadelphia’s] Zack Wheeler and all the relievers for the Yankees and just getting exposed to these guys and be able to really attack that at-bat because they’re probably working on something in spring training. It’s been really cool for me to be able to learn that and learn little things with my swing along with a lot of things at second base, a lot of learning so far.”

Q: What was your history of playing second before this spring?

Holliday: “I played about once a week in the minor leagues. Maybe not once a week, but depending on if someone was hurt or the schedule worked out, I would play once a week at second. It was very raw over there, just playing it like I would play shortstop, trying to get outs, then learning some technical stuff this spring and a little in the offseason, on flips, learning how to turn double plays. It’s a lot more in depth now. It’s been good to be able to learn that, and I feel a lot better.”

Q: You’ve always been a shortstop and everything’s instinctive. Is second base close to being that instinctive for you yet?

Holliday: “Yeah, I think so. I think when it comes to be able to field a ground ball and throw to first, I think it’s very instinctive. The cuts are a little different. I know as a shortstop you’re mainly the lead guy. That changes just a little bit, but being able to really learn about that and think before it happens, ‘OK, there’s a guy on first base I’m cutting for. I need to know where I’m lined up. There’s no one on base, just being ready before the pitch.’ I think it’s been very helpful for to be able to relax and knowing what to do before it happens. I think that’s been very helpful for me.”

Q: As opposed to last year, you’re starting games and you’re facing elite pitchers, you seem pretty comfortable, don’t you?

Holliday: “I think just getting at-bats and just being able to go up there with confidence. If you go up there, thinking you’re going to get out, you’re probably going to get out, but if you change your mindset and, “OK, I’m going to smash a fastball and just see what happens,’ I think that’s the mindset I’m going with: ‘I’m going to crush your heater,’ just adjust off that. It’s something that I’ve always done. If I go up there timid, and, ‘OK, this guy is an All-Star, he should probably get me out,’ then you’re probably going to get out. I think if you know how to change that mindset, and just go out there and compete and try my best to not let that guy in front of me beat me, it’s been really good, and I’ve felt really comfortable that last few weeks.”

Q: Opening Day in Baltimore is just over two weeks away. Do you think you’re going to make the team?

Holliday: “I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out. I think there’s some people a little above my pay grade that are making that decision. It would be really neat, and I’d be really excited, but I know it’s all part of a plan and just going out here and enjoying being around these guys and playing in these games.”

Notes: Centerfielder Cedric Mullins, who left the March 4th game with a sore right hamstring, is expected to play on Thursday against Pittsburgh in Bradenton. … Starters Kyle Bradish and John Means each threw side sessions on Wednesday. … Infielder Max Wagner will not play in the Spring Breakout game. Infielder Carter Young and left-handed pitcher Trey McGough have been added to the Orioles’ roster for the game. …The Orioles  left-handed pitchers Tucker Davidson, Luis González and Cade Povich, right-handers Wandisson Charles, Chayce McDermott, infielder/outfielder Diego Castillo, infielder Errol Robinson and outfielder Daniel Johnson to minor league camp. They have 50 players remaining in camp.

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