Rounding the Bases with John Barr
Freshman outfielder John Barr is having a breakout second half of the season, earning a spot in the starting lineup the last 10 games. During this breakout he had a game-winning two-run double against Wake Forest along with two multi-hit and two multi-RBI performances. John sat down and answered some questions about his recent clutch performances, adapting to the college game and his love of the Phillie Phanatic.
Question: What made you decide to come to UVa?
Barr: I was looking at a lot of different schools that have the combination of great academics and a good baseball background, and Virginia fit both of those requirements. Once I stepped on Grounds I really liked things, and I really liked the way the coaches ran this program, so toward the end of the recruiting process it was really a no-brainer for me to come here.
Question: How good did that first win over Wake Forest feel knowing you knocked in the winning run and then scored another run to seal the victory?
Barr: It was awesome. Anytime you get a win over an ACC team is big. I just try to do whatever I can to help the team out. Fortunately I was able to come through in clutch situations during that game.
Question: Then you turned around on Sunday and played a crucial part in the win by advancing Franco Valdes to third with your sacrifice bunt after going 0-for-3.
Barr: It’s one of those things where the coaches always tell you that it’s baseball and you are going to have bad days and you’re going to have ups and downs, and they kept reminding me as the game went along to keep my head up and each at bat is more important than the last. As the game went on I was looking to get the ball down to advance the runner and as a young player you have to understand that you are going to have tough days where you will struggle at the plate and to do whatever you can in a tight game like that.
Question: You have started the last 10 games. How does it feel to know you will be starting and getting to see more at-bats?
Barr: It’s definitely good to see consistent at-bats because it’s tough when you aren’t playing every day. Whoever has been in [the starting lineup] has done a great job the entire season and whoever it is that starts that day, we have total faith in that person. If I’m that guy I just hope that I can do whatever I can to help the team win.
Question: You have been playing a mix of DH and left field lately and have started in center as well. Which do you prefer?
Barr: Wherever, it doesn’t really matter. I played center field in high school and that’s where I’ve played the most in my career, but wherever Coach O’Connor puts me is where I will play and do whatever I can do whether it’s DH, left field, center field or whatever position. As long as we keep winning and I fill my role, then that’s fine with me.
Question: What aspect of the college game has been the hardest to adapt to?
Barr: I think the speed of the game has definitely been an adjustment, just the way that things flow and move and is a step up from high school. That has been the biggest adjustment for me.
Question: Tell us a little bit about your plans to play for the Keene Swamp Bats this summer with teammates Dan Grovatt, Sean Tierney and Franco Valdes.
Barr: I think it should be awesome. From what hear from Tyler Cannon, who played there last year, that it was an awesome environment, it’s a lot of fun and it’s good, quality baseball against some good teams and I hope to improve my game while I’m there.
Question: Do you remember the first home run you ever hit in a game?
Barr: Yeah I do actually. I was just 10 in Little League and it was pretty awesome. Actually it was a 10-year-old tournament and it was something I’ll never forget. I think I am more of a gaps hitter than a home run guy so any home run I get I’ll take and probably remember.
Question: You have a fast but very distinct running style. Tell us about that.
Barr: [laughs] I try to run on my toes. Every time I watch it on ACC Select or on any video we might have it seems like it gets weirder and weirder. I try to just stick to the basics and run on my toes. I don’t know, it’s just how I’ve always run and hopefully it gets me from point A to point B.
Question: Germantown Academy has a history of producing some great collegiate athletes. What was it like being a star athlete at a school with that reputation?
Barr: It was awesome. The school is pretty small so everyone knows each other real well and everyone is friends with each other. It’s also a school were a lot of kids get to play a couple of different sports since there aren’t that many kids. But it was awesome atmosphere there and the coaching was really good. I enjoyed my time there and I think it helped me prepare for both the academic and athletic side of college.
Question: What do you miss most about home?
Barr: Cheesesteaks. Being from right outside of Philadelphia, there are a lot of good places to eat. They try to make cheesesteaks here and they just don’t compare.
Question: Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
Barr: My parents. They try to come down as much as they can, but it’s a pretty long commute. They have always been there for me in every big game and anything else big that has happened in my life, and they have always been a huge influence and have raised me well.
Question: Why do you wear the number seven?
Barr: I’ve worn the number seven my whole life. Somebody told me that it was lucky when I was little so I just stuck to it and I have worn it since I was about 10 years old and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to wear it this year as well.
Question: If you were to start your own sports team, what would their mascot be, or who is your favorite mascot?
Barr: Probably the “Phanatic” since I’m a huge Phillies fan. I know it’s not that original but I’d go with some form of that since the Philly Phanatic is the best mascot there ever was.
Question: Cavaliers or Wahoos?
Question: Orange or Blue?