For Matt Padgett, the New Jersey Jackals organization has always been part of his baseball career. As a player for New Jersey back in 2013, Padgett hit .324 with 5 home runs and 19 RBi’s. Last season Padgett was hired as an assistant coach learning the ropes under then manager Joe Calfapietra. Once Calfapietra was hired by the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association of Independent Baseball in the off-season, the Jackals decided to promote Padgett to the managerial position.
“It’s been fun and like the group of guys we have here and a lot more goes into it than you think in the off-season and having to find the players and work in the salary cap and things you have never done before” said Padgett. “When 7:00 hits is the easiest part of the day”
“I wasn’t able to bring in a Triple-A left-handed pitcher who has been waiting in the clubhouse for paperwork” “Three rookies in the bullpen and very impressed with those guys” “A couple of guys that have been out of the game for a year and just worked hard in spring training and earned the right to continue to get chances out there”
“We have guys who are grinders and want to fight out there and really put a lineup that wants to get better every day and back to affiliated baseball” “If that’s not the goal then goal is not to win and I’m all about winning and trying to stack wins on top of each other”
So far this season Padgett has guided New Jersey to a 13-10 record and high-octane offense that has amassed 1159 runs, 256 hits slugged 26 home runs and accounted for 147 RBI’s. On the pitching front, 12-year veteran Isaac Pavlik from Paramus is 3-0 and with an E.R.A. of 2.40. Brian Burgamy came into the series with the Rockland Boulders hitting .375 with 5 homers, 22 RBI’s and 30 hits.
“Conrad is a big pick-up and Burgamy was with Laredo that folded and I played affiliated baseball with and last-minute decision two days before spring training and great addition” Padgett said. “A quarter of the way and happy with our roster”
“Isaac has been a huge help for me and did a lot a lot in the off-season about picking up arms and what he is looking for in stats and been able to juggle playing and handle the pitching staff” “It’s been fun to watch and appreciate everything he does” “A veteran and very luck to have him and had an amazing start to the season and he looks good this year” “Last couple of years he has been banged up with serious injuries to his leg that held him back and loves to play and compete especially at home and close to where he lives”
This season the Jackals have underwent more changes purchased by University Sports & Entertainment, LLC; whose CEO is Al Dorso, the owner of the Sussex County Miners that also play in the Can-Am League. In their 20th season, the organization also unveiled new team logos.
A native of South Carolina Padgett liked the Atlanta Braves but always said he was a Yankees fan and when the new ownership pitched the idea of pinstripe uniforms he was all for it. “No. 8(Yogi Berra) is up there looking over the field” “The guys can only get better on the field wit uniforms and put New Era hats on and getting major league bats” “Not about the money but given the tools to succeed”
“The way the Jackals have been on the field, the bar is kind of where it is and honestly just trying to stay there” “Always appreciated Joe(Calfapietra) ever since I played here and success we had and everyone in the clubhouse loved him and he worked his tail off” “It’s really for me to continue some of that and put my own spin on things” “Al(Dorso” has been very supportive every time I picked up the phone and he wants to win and kind of guy he is and excited to see how this relationship grows”
A former draft pick of the Miami Marlins in 1998, Padgett made it all the way to Triple A Albuquerque in 2004 where he hit 24 home runs and 93 RBI’s and also played in Triple A affiliated of the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies. Padgett knows the grind of playing in the independent baseball circuit with experience in the Atlantic League, American Association and Can-Am League.
“The whole ride just getting in and not knowing what to expect and differently kid of mindset” said Padgett. “Things you are told to do every single time and get adjusted to that” “You have to impress someone every day and move up the ladder and realize not until independent ball it’s the same game”
“About the clichés and how bad you want it and sitting here in independent ball not about making money, field and clubhouse is not the best but you are in a professional baseball game and how you go about it” “Taught back in high school by coaches not bigger than the game and to dive in and give it 100 percent”
“I told the guys in spring training I want guys to play the game hard, beginning to end, give it all your day and see where we are at it because it’s a long season and so many things can happen with roster moves and you never know who you are going to need and willing to do whatever for these people and to earn some respect”
“As you get older you want to be a good clubhouse guy, not necessarily about the numbers on the field and if you want that guy that fits in the clubhouse you have to try to talk to these guys and hopefully they will pick it up and take what they can get out of it”