Former St. Louis Cardinals infielder/outfielder Joe Mather discusses his move to the Atlanta Braves
On Friday, January 21, former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Joe Mather was interviewed by Bill Shanks on The Braves Show Talk Show. Bill is my Scout.com counterpart covering Mather’s new team, the Atlanta Braves. Shanks also writes for the Macon Telegraph and FOX Sports South.
Mather reports to his first Braves camp next month competing for a reserve outfield spot after having been claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals on November 3. His first conversation, 15 minutes after having been informed of the move, was from Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno, the former Cardinals farm director.
“He told me they like my versatility,” Mather said. “They also like that I can hit right-handed. In fact, there are quite a few lefties on the team right now. That can only help someone like me…”
Mather explained 2010 was his first injury-free year in the last three and expressed a bit of frustration over that affect on his play. He was very complimentary of the Cardinals and his decade in their system.
“I feel great. I had been rehabbing for two years and feel as healthy now as I have been in the last four years,” the man known in Springfield for his power as ‘Joey Bombs’ said.
Mather outlined his high school history as a shortstop, noting he can play second or short “in a pinch” and feels he can play defense at a “major league level” at first base, third base and all three outfield positions. He considers right field his most comfortable and best position with centerfield his favorite.
“Like I told Bruce, I am coming in ready to play seven positions if they need that,” Mather explained. “I am ready to play wherever they can put me.”
Mather will be coming to camp with an eye toward replacing departed Matt Diaz as the Braves primary right-handed hitting outfielder off the bench. Like every player, he’s always looking for an opportunity to start as well.
“I feel like I am a big league player and an everyday player and I hope for that opportunity,” he admitted.
Among the items Mather disclosed during the Q&A is that he grew up as a Boston Red Sox fan, but he is undergoing a crash course in the Atlanta Braves culture and roster, as he doesn’t yet know anyone on the team’s depth charts personally.
Mather acknowledged he had heard past rumors that he might have been discussed in conjunction with potential trades for relievers Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano. (I knew that could not be true since I have read from reputable sources that there is only one prospect in the entire Cardinals system that has trade value!)
In closing, Mather asked if he could bring ex-Braves farmhand Adam Wainwright back to Atlanta with him.
“Oh man, I wish I could… I think that sometime down the road, I don’t think he would mind being an Atlanta Brave again,” Mather said about Wainwright.
With that remark, Mather has officially joined the ranks of the enemy!
I close with a classic photo I shot late one afternoon in spring training a few years back in better times as Mather (right) and roommate Brendan Ryan were horsing around.