I told Theriot he better hope I have a good day at the plate or I might not show up as Alex the Lion at his son’s birthday party. I ended up hitting a home run late that game. I went over to one of those jungle gym-type places where they have birthday parties or whatever. I put on a pair of shorts that I thankfully brought, and put on the Alex the Lion costume from Madagascar. I sat there for five or 10 minutes trying to put the head on, trying to figure out how I was going to see out of this thing. I couldn’t see anything. I almost had to look out of the mouth so I could see the kids. I didn’t want to step on any kids — I didn’t want one of them crying.
I didn’t scare them. It was the whole Madagascar theme. I ended up getting in there and the kids loved it, and actually Freel split some time with me. It was one of the most miserable things I’ve ever done. We’ll leave it at this — I give a lot of credit to the people who are mascots. This was an air-conditioned room and I was like dripping with sweat. I couldn’t imagine being in the Phillie Phanatic costume in the middle of summer. I have a whole lot of respect for mascots.
I talked to Milton. It’s just somebody letting him know how good a player he is. If you get behind in the count 0-1 because you feel the umpire made a bad call, you’ve got to have confidence in yourself as a player that you’re better than that and you can overcome that and three, four pitches later, you’re in a hitter’s count and you’re attacking the baseball.
If you don’t take that attitude, you’ll find yourself more times than not sitting back on the bench and not getting to run the bases. That’s something that he’s got to know. No matter how confident you are in your game or how good you are as a player or how talented you are, sometimes you forget that when you go through struggles. Every once in a while, you need somebody to remind you of that. That’s basically all that took place.
This game is so humbling that even the best players in the game — and I guarantee you, Barry Bonds, when he was at his peak, this happened to him — you get that feeling that you’re the worst player on the field. I’ve been through it. The only way I can talk to Milton or anyone else on this team is through experience because I’ve been through the same things as far as confidence and stuff like that. You might not see it. Every hitting coach or manager or guy you’ve played with says, “Don’t let the other team know whether you’re 0-for-20 or 10-for-20.” That’s basically where we’re coming from. Milton’s better than all the stuff that’s going on right now and he can overcome it. That’s pretty much all it was.
No more beard. No goatee. I’ve got a little scruff under my chin right now. That’s it. There’s nothing to it. I don’t feel like I’m struggling and need to shave to get hits or anything like that. I feel comfortable at the plate and feel good at the plate. In the past, I’ve stuck with it through the good times and bad times. I’m not a superstitious guy anyways. The beard doesn’t have much to do with that.
It grows pretty fast. By the time I get back to Chicago, I’ll have something so fans can say, “Hey, I know who that is,” rather than them getting a new player in center field.
Everyone was surprised when they saw it. I don’t know if I’ve seen myself without anything ever. I’ve always had a goatee or beard or something. This is the least amount I’ve had in a long time.
Guys are sticking up for Milton. MLB was basing its argument on Milton bumping the umpire, and if that’s the case, and the bill of his helmet did happen to graze the umpire’s hat, I never saw the umpire move back or anything. I don’t think anyone thought Milton would get suspended. It’s unfortunate he did. It is only one game.
We recognize as players the era we play in, and that any time you have a good year and hit a couple home runs, people will talk about performance enhancing drugs or things of that nature. That’s something we’re prepared for. If you happen to go on a tear or hit five or six home runs in a week, people are going to assume it’s a steroid issue. I think we’ve got to be happy as an organization and happy as players who are part of the Players Association that we’ve taken steps to try to clean the game up. Most of the issues that have been talked about — besides Manny Ramirez — have happened in the past. That’s something we can be proud of as a group. We’ve done our job to clean things up, and if you use and you’re caught, you’re going to be suspended.
Theriot’s thing is hamburgers. He eats a lot of Drumsticks. Have you seen those ice cream things? I’ve seen him eat French toast. I just follow him around and try to eat whatever he eats. He’ll occasionally take his shirt off and go in the weight room but he just works beach muscles. It’s not functional stuff that would help you on the baseball field. He goes in there and does bi’s and tri’s and chest, and then checks out his spray tan in the mirror. Maybe we’ll start getting on Theriot a little more. He gives me a high five the next day when he sees something in the paper I said about him. Font gets upset. Theriot’s off to a great start, and not on the juice.
A guy like Bobby Scales, you see how hard he works. He’s the first one down in the cage and one of the last ones to leave. He puts the work in. He’s been in the Minor Leagues for a long time. I think somebody like that really deserves a shot. To see him come up here the first time last week, when it was up in the air whether Ramy was going on the DL or not, and then to have him go down and you’re thinking, “Man, that might be his only shot to be here.” To be back a week later, it means a lot, and not only to him but to other guys in the clubhouse who see how hard he works. Guys like that, they deserve a shot.
I remember when I was first called up. I was in Triple-A and it was the fourth or fifth inning of the game. The manager took me out of the game — it was only two weeks into the season. He said, “Hey, I’m going to give you the rest of the day off.” It didn’t make sense because it was only a couple weeks into the season. He said, ”You’re going to Toronto tomorrow.” It was a good feeling. It’s probably the same feeling Bobby is having now. You look at the sacrifices you made and all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve gone through the last however many years you were in the Minor Leagues. To see all that and that you got to your goal — now your job is to stay here. He’s one of those guys who everybody is happy to see get called up.