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Player Journal: Tabata enjoys Clemens visit05/30/2007 3:06 PM ET
By Jose Tabata / Special to MLB.com
Jose Tabata, an outfield prospect in the New York Yankees organization, was signed out of Venezuela for $550,000 at the age of 16. In two Minor League seasons over 130 games with the Gulf Coast Yanks and Charleston RiverDogs, he's hit a combined .303 (144-for-475) with eight homers, 76 RBIs and 37 steals.
Hello everyone! Glad to be back working on the journal.
The last two weeks have been quite exciting down here in the Florida State League. Roger Clemens, in preparation for his return to the Major Leagues, pitched for the Tampa Yankees on May 18. It was really special to be around such a great star.
At first, I tried to talk a lot to Clemens a lot, asking him all kinds of questions. He was very generous with his time and answers. He talked at length about being in the Major Leagues, and what it takes to get there. I listened very carefully because that's where I want to be as soon as possible.
I also watched how Clemens carried himself, both on the field and in the locker room. In some ways, that is the biggest difference between the Minors and the Majors. The presence he commands on the mound is impressive. I really enjoyed the whole experience.
As for our team, we have won seven times in our last nine games. We took three out of four from both Vero Beach (Devil Rays) and Jupiter (Marlins). We are now 27-23 and in third place in the Florida State League West division, only 5.5 games out of the top spot.
Personally, the main thing I am trying to work on right now is movement and speed on defense. Specifically, I am learning how to take the most direct route to the ball, so I can chase down more fly balls and stop runners from taking an extra base.
I know a lot of you have sent emails about the possibility of me playing in Trenton (Yankees Double-A affiliate) this year. I think I am ready to move up to Trenton. My personal goal is to be there by midseason, but it depends on what the Yankees organization thinks. As of now, they have not mentioned anything to me about being promoted.
Off the field, I have been trying to improve my English. It is getting better everyday, but I am still uncomfortable using it. Right now, I am working on baseball terms and food, the two most important things.
That's it for me from Florida, I'll be back with another entry in two weeks. Now, onto some of your emails.
What is it like playing for Tampa manager Luis Sojo, who is, like you, from Venezuela? In what ways has he been able to help you? -- Marysabel Perez, Venezuela.
Excellent question. He is one of the best managers I have ever had in my young career. He connects with the players and helps everyone on the team to be more relaxed. Coach has also been important to me in my transition to the United States because he is able to speak Spanish with me. When I don't understand something, he will often explain it to me in Spanish. On the field, he has helped my approach to batting the most. Sojo always tells me to keep my head up no matter what. It's not worth it to have a negative attitude even if you have a bad day.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.