Many Oklahomans in professional baseball are in to Arizona and Florida for spring training 2013.
Before they left, The Oklahoman talked with some of those individuals during the winter months.
The intent was to draw from their knowledge on topics that might provide insight for players, coaches and fans, particularly at the younger levels.
Jordy Mercer, a standout at Taloga High School, went on to Oklahoma State University where he was an All-Big 12 selection three times, including twice being named first team all-conference.
As a junior, Mercer started all 62 games at shortstop in 2008 and set career highs with a .330 batting average, 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. On the mound, Mercer made 16 appearances in 2008 and collected nine saves. He finished his college career as OSU's career saves leader with 17.
He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round in 2008 and last May made his major league debut. Last season, he played 28 games at shortstop, seven games at second and had an inning at third.
Mercer, 26, of Edmond, recently offered his opinion on topics relating both to fielding and hitting.
Q: Does a middle infielder more often than not get into trouble, making an error, physically or mentally?
A: I think it's more mentally to tell you the truth. Because in practice you physically prepare over and over until you get it down, then when the game starts it's all mental because you already know how to do it. So if an error happens it's mostly mental.
From the time a guy steps in the box, what are you reading?
You're reading swing path, you've got some scouting reports on him off his previous at-bats. So you have a pretty good idea, say he fouls a pitch off or he lines one the other way so you might want to take a step the other way and it depends on what the pitcher's throwing.
At what levels of your baseball career from the time you were little have you used a batting tee?
I have used a tee since I can even remember, probably right when I started walking. I probably started using the tee and to this day I still use the tee. So my whole life, through all levels of baseball I've used a tee.
A tee kind of resets you. It kind of gets you going back in the right direction. You're trying to stay through the ball, stay up the middle, and it teaches you just to square it up the whole time and not worry about where it's going.
When you first get up to the tee you just want to set it straight forward at a height that feels comfortable. You want just a nice and easy swing, try to hit right in the back side of the ball and try to hit it right in the middle every time.