Rounding the Bases with Reed Gragnani
Reed Gragnani is your prototypical team player – where you want him to play, he’s there. The infield? He can play them all four positions. The outfield? He’s got that covered too. This year Gragnani, an experienced infielder, has primarily seen time in Virginia’s massive center field and has played it with aplomb. Through 12 games Gragnani ranked second on the team with a .367 batting average, which also puts him among the 25 batters in the ACC. He is the focus of the latest installment of Rounding the Bases.
Talk about the chance to play consistently this year.
Gragnani: I’ve appreciated the opportunity of playing every day so far. The first few weeks of the season have been kind of up and down with our consistency, but coach always preaches that we have to get better every day and when everybody gets that in their minds and pushes forward toward that goal then I think we’ll be a lot more consistent.
Talk about playing center field again this year. It’s not your natural position, but you’ve been solid out there.
Gragnani: Last year when I started playing there I was observant of the people who have played there in the system and I’ve learned a lot by playing multiple positions here. You just have to pay attention. You just never know where you’re going to play, where your opportunities may be and that is what I’ve been trying to do my whole career here – just watch everybody that played. My freshman year was a big learning year. I watched the infielders, I watched the outfielders and that is how I learned to play and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job out there.
Do you just watch UVa players play the positions or pro players as well, looking for intricacies?
Gragnani: I always pay attention to pro players because why wouldn’t you try to be like them? They’re the best that play the game so why not try to emulate your game after them as best you can. But as far as UVa goes, I mainly pay attention to players that play here just because our system and how it works. Like [Jarrett] Parker, for example.
You’re an upperclassman now. Have you felt the need to step up as a leader for this team?
Gragnani: I really have. I’ve been trying to be more vocal and lead by example like you should when you’re an older, veteran player. You should really lead by example because actions speak louder than words and when I need to tell a younger player something I’ll go and tell them.
Talk about the Virginia system here and how it prepares you to compete every game.
Gragnani: That is to the coaches’ credit for recruiting players that fit into their system. The system is just a tough, hard-nosed player that doesn’t make excuses and takes advantage of every opportunity that they’re given and makes the most of everything they’re asked to do and is always willing to put the team before themselves.
Do you set goals for yourself at all?
Gragnani: Yeah, I set goals for myself in a sense that they’re more behavior based goals as opposed to action because you can’t set a goal that ‘hey I want to hit over .400 this year.’ You can’t control where the ball goes and stuff like that but I can control that I want to hit the ball the other way in batting practice four out of my five swings, little stuff like that. And that’s an adjustment I’ve made this year as opposed to my first two years because I realized that when you set goals in this game you fail more than you succeed so you have to set a goal that you’re comfortable with and not necessarily result based because stuff happens in this game that you can’t control. So I’ve just been trying to stay within myself and not try to be somebody I’m not and just try to come to the field with that mindset every day.
What do you want to do with your life?
Gragnani: I’d like to stay in baseball-something like director of player operations, player development. Something for a major league team would be nice, maybe scouting. I’m a history major here; ultimately I don’t really know exactly what I want to do.
Tell us something about yourself that people wouldn’t know.
Gragnani: I have a lucky pillow that I’ve carried with me my whole life that has this same pillowcase on it and has like a million holes. I hold it every night. I carry that with me everywhere-like on the road and stuff. It’s not much but I just think it’s the most comfortable thing. I’ve had it since I was-my whole life actually.
Food: Anything Italian
Spot on Grounds: Davenport Field
Baseball moment: Going to the College World Series
Class: Financial math or Civil War and Reconstruction with Gary Gallagher. That is probably my all time favorite. He’s a legend.
Artist: Jason Aldean
Pro Sports Team: Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Orioles, Buffalo Sabres. We had family (in Buffalo) when I was younger, but I went to three Bills games when I was younger and just fell in love. It’s an unreal atmosphere.
TV Show: Dexter