April 2009

Car talk

I bought a ’51 Mercury, which has a six-inch chop on it. Normally the chop jobs you see on those cars is four inches. That means the windows you see out of are small and it’s really like a low rider type car. In the next week, it’ll get media blasted, where they take it down to the metal to find out what’s wrong with the frame. If you paint over Bondo and stuff like that from repairs that have been done in the past, a lot of times the paint job will crack, so they have to take it down to the metal. That’s where I’m at now. There’s really no interior, so I’m going to get to do the whole thing the way I want to. It’s going to be like building a house, but on a smaller scale. There’s a lot of detail — you’ve got to pick out your own gauges and shifters and paint color and decide if you’re going to do anything within the paint job and things of that nature.

If there are any car enthusiasts with any ideas or pictures of ’51 Mercurys or something they saw on a custom job, let me know. I’m also looking for some good websites to help with this.

Why this car? I like the look. It’s like a low rider car, and a lot of them have air ride suspensions, so when you park, they drop to the ground and they’re an inch off the ground. It’s going to be a pretty cool car.

I’m going to have to sell the Cobra. I don’t get to drive it as much. It has to be perfect weather to be able to drive it. There is a top for it but it takes away cool points when you put the top on.

The Mercury will be a fun project. As the process goes along, there’s a custom place near Vegas, called Findlay Customs, which is rebuilding the car for me. I’m sure they’ll send me a bunch of pictures over the year and we’ll update everybody.

– Reed

It takes a team …

I think every Major League outfielder played infield at some point. Usually they were all shortstops on their Little League teams. I was messing around and fielding ground balls in Toronto when they had some young kids coming up in the outfield like Adam Lind and guys who could swing the bat and they were flirting with the idea of moving me to second base. I took some ground balls, but I’m a lot more comfortable out in the oufield, and we’ll leave it at that.

We’ve got some guys in the middle of the order who are big production guys who are out of the lineup, and that makes it tough. To say we’re not going to miss guys like Ramy and Milton, you’re just kidding yourself. You’re going to miss them. At the same time, this team has pride in how deep we are off the bench. Over a 162-game schedule, you’re going to have injuries and guys off the bench will need to step up and fill in those spots and hold down the fort until they get back. That’s what we’ll try to do in this situation. Hopefully, none of the injuries are that serious. We’ll have those guys back and hopefully Marmol back ASAP because we’re going to need all of them.

– Reed

 

The Catch and more

Demp and I had planned a trip after that game in Milwaukee. I was going to ride home with him and I figured he’d find me some Culver’s. We usually stop and get a butter burger. This time, he didn’t give me anything. I think he’s holding out and maybe he’ll take me to Joe’s Stone Crab — but probably not.

After the catch in Washington, he didn’t buy dinner. But he’s helped fund my appetite in the past. I’m sure I’ve already gotten my fair share of dinners. It’s almost like when I make catches like that, I’m doing him a favor. He’s done me a bunch of favors in the past. He was just excited and I was just as excited as he was to be able to make a play, which at that point in the game, was a significant play. I had looked up at the scoreboard and said, “Man, we’ve got a home run hitter up with the chance to tie the game right here,” and all of a sudden, the ball’s up in the air a couple pitches later. I was fortunate for everything to work out just perfect. The ball, the way it came down, gave me a bunch of time to get under it. It’s still not an easy play but I felt it go in my glove and I was thinking, no way that just happened. You automatically turn from excitement to “What do I have to do now?”

I wish I could’ve seen a dugout camera or the reaction of the guys in the bullpen. I’m looking for that everywhere on video. I want to see if ESPN or anybody else had that. Those are always the most fun to see how excited guys get about it. They make you feel good as a player.

I saw Prince tip his helmet on video. I went up to him the next time I got on base and said, “Hey, it’s the first time I’ve ever robbed a homer, man. I know you don’t want to hear that.” That whole rest of the day, I was in a zone and didn’t hear anything he said. He’s going to have plenty more opportunities, I’m sure. He’s a good player and good guy and plays the game the right way. He’s going to have a successful year.

Me and Demp were talking and said the only one-upper would be to do it here at Wrigley. You’d have to stick your foot in the ivy and grab onto the chain link and be able to pull yourself up. That’s next to impossible. Things would have to be just a perfect situation. Woody used to practice that out in left center field, and I would watch him and said, “Oh, that’s how you can get up there,” and you’d have to pull on that little basket and pull yourself up over the fence.

If Font had been working on his outfield play, we’d have to get him an eight-foot ladder out there to get himself up onto the fence. I know he’s going to be upset with me saying that. He always gets upset with me. But it seems like every time I give him a hard time, he steps his game up and starts playing well. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m doing this for him, just remember. I’m doing it for Mike because I want to see him do well. He’s been playing great, the team’s been playing great. Every game, we’ve been in. We’ve got losses, but every single game we’ve been in, and we’ve had an opportunity to win. Hopefully, we’re on the good side of things more times than not. We’ve got clutch players from a pitching standpoint and from a hitting standpoint who are really going to help put us over the edge in close games like that. We’ve got a long way to go.

– Reed

Gamesmanship & coming home

On Saturday, I was called on to pinch-hit in the ninth. I hadn’t played, but like I’ve mentioned before, staying sharp and approaching things the right way from an attitude standpoint is huge. It could be a situation where any one of us who isn’t playing can sit back and be upset about not playing and sit back and pout about the things they’re not doing, but if you approach things the right way and get your work in the cage and do all the things you need to do — like today we took extra hitting on the field — good things happen. They might not happen right away, but it’ll benefit not only you as a player but help the team win ballgames. It’ll get you in the lineup a lot more, and that’s what I’ve taken pride in is approach my workouts on and off the field as an everyday player and it really keeps you ready for those type of situations so when you’re standing at the plate, you’re not panicking. You’re relaxed and feel confident that you’re going to put the ball in play somewhere.

I think that was a first for me on Saturday — I’ve never been pinch-run for in my life. If you think about it, you get a guy like Joey on first base and the catcher might be a little more worried about having a runner in scoring position. Having the pitcher slide step might have caused him to leave a changeup up in the zone. When a pitcher has one more thing to worry about with the running game, that’s something that a lot of people don’t realize can have a big effect on what the hitter does at the plate.

I’ve never raced Joey. I have a pretty good feeling that he’s faster than I am. He’s probably jumped over a lot more cars than I have. I was thinking of putting something on YouTube of Reed Johnson jumping over a car and it may be a Matchbox type car or a Tonka truck. I’m sure people would get a kick out of that. That’s the extent of the cars I’ll jump over.

I think we’re excited to get home. Most of us have wives or girlfiends or somebody back in Chicago getting things set up, like the furniture situation or getting into the apartment, getting your cable set up and electricity set-up, and all that type of stuff that you have to take care of when you’re moving into your place.

It’ll definitely be nice to be home. I think you almost have an exhibition game/Spring Training kind of mentality because we haven’t been home yet. I think the atmosphere in Houston and the atmosphere here in Milwaukee, obviously being Opening Day week, you get to see a lot of enthusiasm from the fans. Like I mentioned last time, it leaks into both clubhouses and the teams look at it as a do or die situation or almost a playoff atmosphere. Once we get home and we’re able to sleep in our own beds and enjoy the same restaurants we’ve enjoyed for however many years that guys have been playing in the city of Chicago, once we get into that regular routine, it’ll be a lot easier for everybody.

We haven’t gotten to wear the pinstripes yet. That’s always a good sign. Being able to see the electricity and the way the fans appreciate the team is always exciting for everybody as well. Guys love Opening Day but you want to get on with the grind of playing every day and try to win ballgames and get in that regular routine.

– Reed

 

We’re not going to win 162. Maybe 161

If you had a good Spring Training, you want to continue on that roll once the season starts but you are starting all over again. Getting that first one out of the way is always the toughest — getting that first win, getting that first hit. For the power guys, getting that first home run to kind of get things rolling. It didn’t take Sori very long or Ramy very long. Hopefully, those guys get in a groove early. We’re going to need those guys to be playing well to help this team win games. D-Lee as well. You can see, even though D-Lee has one hit in the two games before tonight, he’s been swinging the bat well. He’s really close.

When you first get to Spring Training, you struggle and you’re not taking good at-bats just because you haven’t swung the bat in four months. D-Lee is swinging the bat well and just missed a ball to left to get his first home run out of the way. Once we get those guys clicking, I think we’ll be tough to stop.

It’s good to get the real thing started, and good to get all the Opening Days over with, too. You’ve got the ceremonies, and things of that nature, and it’s nice for the players and the fans as well but it’s good to get down to the grind of playing. Opening Day is a good atmosphere and it reminds you a little bit of a playoff atmosphere where the fans view it almost like a do or die situation. It leaks into both clubhouses as well. You feel the intensity on Opening Day to win a ballgame and get off to a good start.

Lou talked to us Sunday, and he was saying how he wants everybody to have good years. The veteran group that we have in this clubhouse, everybody’s smart enough to know that if our team has a good year, there’s a good chance guys will have a good year individually, offensively and defensively. I think that was the message he was trying to portray. We’re going to go through ups and downs throughout the season. Obviously, we’re not going to win 162 games this year. We could win 161. That’s probably not going to happen. In a season, we’ll go through peaks and valleys. It’s a question of whether we can control the downward slide and take care of business so we don’t get too low in those valleys and stay consistent the whole year. I think we have the right position players intact and the right pitchers intact to have a consistent year.

Font’s got three hits going into tonight. He gets upset with me sometimes when I make comments about his size. If I was 6-3, I wouldn’t be making those comments. I’m 5-10. I’m still taller than him and I’ll always be taller than him. That’s one thing I’ve got going for me. I’m sure he won’t mind if I call him out every week and he gets three hits every other day. In his situation, he’s a guy who slowed down at the end of Spring Training and wasn’t swinging the bat really well and then the season starts and your season starts all over again and you’re off to a great start. It shows how Spring Training can mean something to some people and other people struggle through it and the bell rings and they find their swing. He’s one of those guys who it looks like he’s starting to swing the bat well. Good for him.

– Reed

Goodbye Arizona, hello New York

The last two days here, you really have to struggle to bang through the long days. I think you can smell the end. You treat the New York trip almost like it’s Opening Day. I think it’s a good thing we play these exhibitions. The travel will be tough for us but we’ll probably go through worse travel trips in the middle of the year. It’ll be good to play in front of a packed house for two days. It’ll be nice to see the stadium — we’ve heard so many things about it.

Now, you see everybody dress up nice. Font got his new outfit from “Gap for Kids” and Theriot’s suit is from “Men’s Wearhouse.” When you see those things, you know it’s time to go. Guys are excited and ready to get out of here. The new luggage tags are good, Otis yelling at everybody is another good sign. Like I said before, guys are excited and they want it to count. This trip will help us regain our focus. You have those Opening Day jitters and hopefully we get them out of the way and roll into Houston and start playing good baseball.

I love watching Patton pitch. He’s 24 years old and attacking the strike zone. The only problem Lou has with guys from a pitching standpoint is when they’re not throwing strikes and that’s not what Patton is all about. He’s about pounding the strike zone. I can see why any manager or any pitching coach could fall in love with a guy like that.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s with us the whole year. He’s not your typical Rule 5 guy. I think he can have a big impact on our team. You listen to his attitude and talking to him, he was so excited about spring. He was talking to me about how in Spring Training he does what he has to do physically in the weight room and out on the mound to prepare himself for the season and once the bell rings, it’s time to get after it. To hear that kind of attitude from a young kid — he has a lot of confidence in his stuff and that’s what you need to pitch up here.

He’ll be a good addition if he’s on our team. I think he’s going to have a long successful career. You can just tell. It’s not just a guy’s stuff, because there are guys with great stuff, but they don’t have the right attitude. He’s got the right combination and it’s exciting to see a player like that.

– Reed

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