One of seven Cubs to make the National League All-Star team and one of 25 newcomers to the this year's game at Yankee Stadium, Geovany Soto has earned his trip by hitting .291 with 16 homers and 55 RBIs entering the final weekend before the All-Star break. April's NL Rookie of the Month recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
07/11/2008 2:43 PM ET
Q&A with Chicago's Geovany Soto
The Cubs catcher gets plenty of tips from Henry Blanco
MLBPLAYERS.com: How do you feel about the season you're having offensively?
Soto: I'm very pleased where I'm at right now. I just want to keep it rolling and see where I'm at the end of the year. Hopefully I can carry this over into October.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you feel like you are really making an impression on baseball fans and, to a certain extent, making a name for yourself?
Soto: I just want to come to the ballpark every day and work hard. I want to leave a good impression on these guys (teammates) and show them what I can do. Right now, it's about winning games and making the postseason. When everything is said and done, I can look back at my individual accomplishments.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Offensive numbers aside, at what level do you feel your defensive game is right now?
Soto: As well as I play, I always feel as though I can do better. I just want to improve all the aspects of my game. I want to throw better, I want to block the plate better, and I want to get to know the hitters better. My main job is to call the game from behind the plate and that's very important to me.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Thinking back to a year ago at this time, do you think you have made significant strides in the field?
Soto: Oh, yeah, especially in calling games and studying video. I think I've improved a lot. That being said, there is always room for improvement. You can get better everyday and stay on top of your opponent.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Have you always watched a lot of video?
Soto: It's something new to me. They have everything on tape for you. You just need to make the time to sit down and study it. They have scouting reports, video on opposing hitters, past matchups and anything else you can think of. Add all of that up and it gives you a lot of little pointers that can help you out during a game. And each time that you go out there, you pick up something on the other players, and you add that to your own mental library.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Tell us about handling the Cubs' pitching staff?
Soto: Our pitching has been great this year, especially the bullpen. The main goal is to get wins, and they've definitely been doing their part to get the job done. It's been a good combination of solid starting pitching and great relief.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have another catcher here in veteran Henry Blanco. How much do you talk to him and how much can you learn from him?
Soto: I talk with him and try to pick his brain all day. He's been a great help in teaching me how to get the most out of watching video and what to look for when I'm studying tape. He's taught me a lot about calling games behind the plate. I consider him my mentor on this team. I would not be in this position today if it were not for the help of Henry.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What catcher do you most liking watching now, and was there a catcher that you grew up watching?
Soto: The answer to both of those questions is Pudge Rodriguez. He's one of the best catchers out there. I admire everything he's done.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Did you choose to follow him because he is from your native Puerto Rico?
Soto: I do take a lot of pride in the fact that he's Puerto Rican. It's an honor to see him play baseball. I would say that I truly enjoy watching Henry catch as well. He's the type of player who will give you a few pointers, and then you can actually watch him do those things out on the field. You know he's not known for his bat, so you know he's doing something right behind the plate.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.