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Thigpen enjoys AFL competition

Jays' Thigpen enjoys AFL competition

Blue Jays prospect Curtis Thigpen, who is preparing for the Arizona Fall League's championship game, took some time to chat with fans on Nov. 16. Among other topics, the catcher talked about playing with and against his former University of Texas teammates, adjustments he has made switching from college ball to professional ball and the pressure to perform well at the pro level.

Curtis Thigpen: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the chat. I'm ready to take your questions.

jay_fan: Who were your favorite players growing up and have you tried to pattern yourself after any of them?

Thigpen: My favorite players were Cal Ripken Jr. and Ivan Rodriguez. I wear No. 8 and try to model my game after Ripken because of his hard work and dedication.

molly: Hi, Curtis. Do you have a nickname around the game?

Thigpen: Because of my last name, everyone seems to start calling me "Thiggy," without even hearing anyone else say it.

mhcrazy666: Do you like to handle a pitching staff, and how do you approach it on a game-to-game basis?

Thigpen: Yes, working with the pitching staff is very interesting. Pitchers, for the most part, have a mind of their own, and sometimes I have to be a psychiatrist to figure out their strengths and weaknesses.

mhcrazy666: Is it tough to go out there behind the plate after a particularly poor at-bat?

Thigpen: Naturally it is tough to go focus on catching and working with a pitcher after having a poor at-bat. But in order to do the best job I can behind the plate, I have to separate the offensive and defensive parts of the game, because throughout a nine-inning game, my most important job is to keep the other team from scoring as many runs as possible by working well with the pitcher.

jay_fan: How has your AFL experience prepared you for 2007?

Thigpen: Playing in the Arizona Fall League has helped me tremendously by giving me the opportunity to compete with the other top competition in the Minor Leagues. The best of the best are out here, and in order to get to the big leagues, I have to succeed against these guys.

matt3573: Curtis, what has been the biggest adjustment from college ball to professional ball?

Thigpen: The biggest adjustments are playing games every single day and the overall lifestyle of a Minor League baseball player. It's not the most glamourous lifestyle because of our long bus rides, rundown hotels and overall toughness to prepare yourself to play every day.

matt3573: Hi, Curtis. Do you look forward to playing against some other Longhorn alums like Huston Street? Who do you keep in touch with?

Thigpen: It has been fun getting to play against a lot of my college teammates. I've also had the chance to be on the same team as a lot of my college teammates. This year I played with Dustin Majewski and Kyle Yates, and played against other Texas alumni. I'm still very good friends with Seth Johnston, Street, Buck Cody and Michael Hollimon.

bizzyth: Out of all the pitchers that you have been teammates with, which one would you not want to face?

Thigpen: Dustin McGowan, because he is a power pitcher with unbelievable stuff.

appstate10: Is it stressful to go from Triple-A to the winter leagues and back to Spring Training with little down time?

Thigpen: Yes, it is very stressful and tiring. As you know, the season is already very long, and for me particularly, the offseason is very important because it gives me the opportunity to get stronger, faster and improve my overall game. I try to take full advantage of the offseason to better myself and get prepared for the upcoming season.

Eli_Newman: We love you in Toronto, man -- you're a top prospect.

Thigpen: Thanks, man.

eric_sultemeier: I have heard that you have started a baseball school in Austin, Texas. How has that been going? Glad to see you are doing well.

Thigpen: What's up, Sulty? National Champs Camp is up and running in the Austin area. Things have been going well. You can check out our Web site at www.nationalchampscamp.com. Hope everything's going well with you.

davey34: Do you believe the Jays have much upside potential compared to other American League teams?

Thigpen: Yes, I do. As you know, the Blue Jays are in a very tough division with the Red Sox and Yankees, but they've made full commitment to putting the best possible team on the field, and I believe in the near future the Blue Jays will be a top competitor in the American League.

mhcrazy666: Do you feel the pressure to perform when you are considered a top prospect like yourself?

Thigpen: Yes, there's always going to be pressure to perform, whether you're a top prospect or not. In order to be the best at what you do, it is imperative that you perform well under pressure.

matt3573: Are you looking forward to playing in Saturday's AFL Championship?

Thigpen: The game on Saturday should be very exciting, seeing that it is a championship game and winning the Arizona Fall League is at stake. It has been a long and fulfilling season, and I'm looking forward to some downtime to get prepared for the 2007 season.

Thigpen: Thank you very much to all of you that have asked questions. It's always fun to get to interact on a more personal level with all the fans. I look forward to doing this again sometime -- hopefully from Toronto! Thank you very much.

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