Pittman looking for an extended stay in Florida

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / January 27, 1999

LAPLACE – When Thomas Pittman goes to the Montreal Expos camp in Florida this spring, he hopes it will be an extended stay.

The Expos are training for the first time in Jupiter, which is also the home of their Single A affiliate in the Florida State League. Going into hissecond camp, Pittman said he feels he is in better condition than he was in last year.

“Every season, I try to be stronger and feel better,” Pittman, a 1997 graduate of East St. John High School, said. “Going into this season andcamp, I am better physically and I want to have a better season than last season.”Pittman batted .212 with four home runs and 30 runs batted in last seasonwith the Expos’ Single A affiliate in Vermont, his first full season in the minor leagues after being drafted in the first round in the 1997 draft. Hesaid he had a better season than he did in 1997, seeing more playing time.

“I got used to the weather and night games,” Pittman said. “I got to playevery day. I got a lot of at-bats and got to see a lot of different pitches. Itwas wonderful, a great experience.”Getting used to the Vermont weather took some getting used to, especially for a player like Pittman who grew up in southern Louisiana.

“It was fine one day, then it would rain the next day, then it would be cold,” Pittman said. “It was nothing like Louisiana.”Pittman said the Expos see him playing first base, his natural position.

With Montreal being a small-market team, the Expos must depend on their farm system for talent and work hard to develop their prospects.

“They really work to make you better,” Pittman said. “It is one of the bestorganizations. They want to make you a better player.”Pittman was at The Glade School Saturday morning, helping the youngsters attending the S.P.A.C.E. in-structional baseball camp become betterplayers. It is one way Pittman is looking to give back to his homecommunity.

Reporting to camp in a couple of weeks, Pittman will get to see the other players in the organization. He said that will give him an opportunity tocompare his strengths and weaknesses against the players he is competing for a spot against.

To help him compete against those other players better, Pittman has been working out at home since October. It will also help him make it throughthose long practices underneath the Florida sun.

“When the season starts, it is your health against the weather and the other team,” Pittman said. “I want to have a healthy spring training.”Pittman is hoping to start the season at Jupiter and finish it in Double A.

He said his goal for the season is to get better and better.

“I hope to have a solid season and put up some solid numbers,” Pittman said.

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