I really had no opportunity to rehab anywhere with all the Minor League seasons being wrapped up. With the different pitchers on our staff being pushed back, and Teddy and Harden missing turns, we had to dip into the bullpen more, so there was no way for me to get a sim game in. I stood in against Jeff Stevens and saw 10 pitches in a bullpen when we were in St. Louis, so that’s all I’ve seen as far as pitching goes. I’ve just been hitting and taking BP. Sometimes it’s better if you try to keep it simple and don’t over-think things.
The Brewers knew I hadn’t played in a long time, so they came after me with a fastball in my first at-bat, and I was able to keep it fair down the line.
There’s going to be pain in my foot until the season’s over. Sometimes you need to out-milligram the other team. At this time of year, the jars of anti-inflammatory start emptying out to try to survive the last couple weeks of the season. I’m sure if you went to any team, it’d be the same.
It’s September, and there are a lot of guys here. We had very few September callups when I was in Toronto. We had a really small roster in Spring Training, and usually a lot of September callups were the same guys you would see early in spring – guys who are on the 40-man roster. In this organization, you get to see a lot of guys in Spring Training, and now you see the same faces around. There are some good opportunities, not only for the players out there but the organization as well.
Look at K-Rod. He came up for the Angels in September  and helped them in the playoffs. You get a first look at guys who are possibly going to be in the organization for a long time. It’s exciting to see those guys in this atmosphere as opposed to the Spring Training atmosphere. I think Lou and everyone in the front office can get a good look at how guys handle Chicago in general. Going to play in a big league organization somewhere else is one thing, but when you come here and you’re playing on this field in front of an electric crowd — not everybody can play under those circumstances. It’s a good opportunity to see which guys you think are going to be the future of the club and which guys will be best suited to play somewhere else.
You see some other organizations rebuilding or going the young route and trying to cut salary. With those teams, you’ll see a lot of older, veteran players moving out. Financially, it makes more sense. Here, I think they’ll continue to spend money to put the best team on the field.
I think when my foot injury first happened, they said it would be four to six weeks. I had high hopes and said, “Oh, I’ll push this thing and I’ll be back in three weeks.” It hasn’t worked out like that. That’s been the frustrating side. I’m trying not to put dates on anything anymore. When I’m able to run and jog without pain that will cause me to limp and cause another injury, then I’m going to play. I know when I do come back in the next week or so, I know there will still be pain but that’s something everybody’s dealing with. Nobody’s completely healthy when you play this many games. Everybody has aches and pains. It’s just a matter of being able to function. Once I know I can get back and help this team win, I’m going to be back in the lineup. Sticking me out in center field right now on one and a half legs, is not going to help anything.
I’ve heard Lou say I have a lot of “energy.” That’s always the way I’ve played. Through high school and college, I had coaches who catered to that style of play — just breaking up double plays and doing the little things that, in a sense, could fire up the team but also help the team win. If there’s one out and you hit a ground ball to short and you hustle down to first and they can’t turn a double play and you keep the inning alive and the next guy hits a home run, those are big plays. Some guys sometimes don’t feel like running hard to first, but when you keep innings alive like that, good things can happen. Your teammates appreciate it. Instead of a solo home run, you could have a two-run shot.
Font’s play Wednesday, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it was about a 7 or 8. A normal-sized person, it would take him from second base to where Font caught the ball about seven or eight steps. Font took like 30 steps because he has little mini steps. I guess we can call it a 9 then because that would add to the degree of difficulty. He had to go twice as far as I would have. It was an impressive play, especially when you could see the ball snowcone and he re-gripped it to make sure he had it. It was a nice play.
I can see how fans get frustrated when they’re sitting at home every night, watching the team struggle. When you go through it as a player, you can imagine it’s a little more intense and a little more pressure to go out there every night and try to play good baseball.
The thing about Chicago is it’s a really fair town. If you play hard and play the game the right way and you come up short, obviously, there will be disappointment but people will respect you for playing hard. The way we’ve played lately, I can understand why people are upset and have started to boo. People ask me about playing in Chicago, and they say, “If you don’t play well, you’re going to get booed.” At the same time, if you’re the right type of player, you’re harder on yourself than any fan will ever be on you.
I was booing myself when I was 0-for-10. They didn’t start booing until I was 0-for-15 or 0-for-20. They gave me five or 10 at-bats to figure things out. The fans here give you an honest chance.
The thing with us is our expectations were a lot higher for ourselves this year. The fans treat it the same way. They have high expectations, and they should. We’re a better team than what we’ve been playing. When we’re out on the field, at least from a personal standpoint, I don’t ever want to embarrass myself. Things that would embarrass me is not running a ball out and the ball falls and I’m not on second base — more like hustle things. Physical errors are going to happen. When you make mental errors, you embarrass yourself.
Even though we took a bad one Tuesday night, it’s only one game. We lost 15-to-whatever, and it felt like five losses to me, and I’m sure it felt like five or 10 losses to the fans as well, especially in the situation we’re in, coming off a rough road trip.
We can still finish the homestand 9-1. There’s always a possibility of that. That’s what we’re looking forward to now.
When I’m watching the games at home, I don’t throw things at the TV. Sometimes I feel like it. I know how hard the game is to play. It looks a lot easier when you’re watching on TV for sure. I’ll go, “Hey, that ball’s right down the middle — how could you miss that?” When you’re playing, it’s coming a lot faster. It makes it frustrating when you’re not able to help out. You see your teammates struggling through tough times during the season and you’re not there to help.
I saw Sam Fuld’s catch in L.A. That was a super nice catch. I yelled at my wife, “Hey, you’ve got to come in and see this.”
I’ll get an X-ray in the next couple days just to follow up and see how the bone’s healing. Hopefully, if the bone is healing all right, I’ll be close to getting out of this boot. I’m hoping they say it’s OK so I can walk around a little bit without the boot.
I can’t do much. If I have the boot on, I can throw a little bit. I wore tennis shoes yesterday and walked around a little bit and once I got loose, it was fine. Hopefully, it progresses pretty quick. I’ve been doing everything — taking vitamins and calcium pills and doing everything I can to move this thing along. I’m not drinking gallons of milk, I’m just trying to take care of it. When the team was on the road, I came in and got treatment. It’s tough with a fracture. You can’t rehab it, you just have to sit and let it heal.
I’ll be back, that’s for sure. It’s nothing really serious. There’s just some pain right now from the fracture and it’s not allowing me to function the way I want to. Hopefully in the next couple weeks, I can get some activities in and hopefully, as we get into that third week, I’ll be getting into some serious baseball activity. I don’t think the fracture has a chance of displacing, so that’s good. That means it’s more pain threshold than anything. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Samardzija says he can play center? We’ll see. I’ve seen him shag. He’s all right.
For me, and I think for a lot of the guys, we’ve been waiting for this. Being in first, you can take a lot of pressure off yourself as far as looking at your own numbers and things of that nature. When you see your team at the top of the list in first place, now your numbers seem like they go out the door. It’s the team that matters. Whether you’re having a good year or bad year, the team recognizes, “Hey, we’re in first place right now. We have a couple months left and it’s all about winning baseball games.”
If you can take the focus off what you’re doing as an individual, I think that’s the main goal of our team — to have everybody involved in that team aspect of things and just concerned about winning ballgames. There are guys who got off to slow starts and I think being in first and really concentrating on what the team needs to do to stay there is only going to benefit everybody. At the end of the year, you usually see guys on good teams will have pretty solid years individually. We have to be smart enough to realize that. If you can have a good year as a team, your numbers will be right where they need to be.
All the injuries and all the ups and downs we’ve gone through, we can finally see ourselves in first place. We know it can go away tomorrow with a loss and a St. Louis win. But it’s helped us kind of refocus on what’s important, which is winning baseball games.
Some of us went over to Walter Reed Medical Center today and talked to some of the vets there. It was all similar injuries — it was mostly from IEDs and stuff like that. The stories were so similar. We were telling them how most of the time you go into a hospital and you just want to get out, but those guys were in totally different spirits. They’re so thankful at what the doctors are doing and amazed at the work the staff has done on them and all their brothers in there. It was an eye opening experience, and it was good to see how well those guys are doing. They were in such great spirits and they’re happy to be alive. The ones we saw were doing real well.
You know they’re watching you on TV, and you want to make sure you’re giving everything you can because they don’t have the opportunity to do the same thing, especially in the situation they’re in right now. All of them were so thankful we came in. You feel guilty in a way. They’re sacrificing their lives and bodies out there for all of us. It’s sad that so many people have forgotten about them. I think more people need to open their eyes, especially people in our shoes who have some fame and notoriety, and they need to get down there and donate some of their time and see those guys and talk to them.
They were so happy to see us. One of the guys who was leading us around was tearing up towards the end. He was like, “You brought Chicago to me — I miss home. We thank you so much.” We felt guilty. We didn’t do anything — we’re just playing a game. You have to realize as a player how much your play and winning ballgames means to these guys, especially the troops overseas.
Who went? It was Dempster, “Bussy,” Heilman, Theriot, Koyie and Hoffpauir. We were there a couple hours at least. We just took our time in every room and hung out with the guys. They told us some stories about experiences over there and how they got hurt and stuff like that. They were really open. It was hard. They keep reminding you how happy they are to see you there — it gives them a break. They see their families all the time and they see a lot of the same faces. They really seemed to appreciate us stopping by.
I wear a bracelet in support of the troops. My buddy was over in Iraq three years ago, and he had a year stint there. He was able to get out of there scot-free. He’s older, and he’s doing recruiting stuff in San Antonio now. Ever since he went over, I’ve worn this. Sometimes it’ll break, so I have to order a couple more off the Internet. It’s something — I want them to know they’re always in my heart. Now I have a couple more faces to put the bracelet to.
A lot of them were Cubs fans. We met a Houston fan. They didn’t care. They were happy to see us. Otis put together some shirts and hats. It was kind of an unexpected thing. I just felt like going over there. It was a good thing — we were able to get them some signed balls. There were a couple guys who were huge Cubs fans and they had pennants on the doors and their parents had Cubs hats on and we took a lot of pictures. We had a great time.
I’ve known Ted as a baseball player for four, five years now. I had him in Toronto and he was an All-Star in Toronto one of the years I was there. He’s just a guy who, to me, really deserves it because all he cares about is winning. He’s such a competitor and you can see the competitiveness not only on the field but what he does to prepare himself the four days between starts. A lot of guys might be gifted guys who don’t have to do a whole lot of work. He’s a gifted guy and puts in a whole lot of extra work. I think that’s why you see him have so much success. Just getting his 100th win is a great accomplishment for a guy who really deserves it.
As far as Fontenot goes, we had some suggestions for him, like yoga or stretching to try to lengthen himself out a little bit. Hopefully, he comes back in the second half about six-foot and he’ll start playing like he’s six-foot-four. That’s the plan for him.
I think it’ll be a good break for everybody mentally to get out of here and take a couple days and come back fresh and see how we fare against the Nationals when it starts up again.
It was nice to go down there and get some at-bats with the Peoria team. You get to see how excited the kids are, and not only to play baseball but to see you there. It wasn’t just me, but Aramis being there, too. It’s good to show those kids that two guys coming from the big leagues are just normal guys.
I was fortunate to grow up around big leaguers and grow up in that atmosphere and it helped me a lot because I realized these guys are just normal guys and it’s not a far-fetched dream. If you work hard, it’s an achievable goal. When you go down on rehab stints like the two of us did, it becomes a reality for those kids and they can see they’re really not that far away. I was in Hagerstown, which is the same league as the Midwest League, which is low A, and I was three years from being in the big leagues. Sometimes they think they’re so far away, and they’re really not.
We got spoiled down there. There were 15,000 people there for the games. It was not your normal A ball experience. I think it would’ve been different if nobody knew we’d be there. The crowds would’ve been different. It was a good experience to go down and see those guys. They appreciated eating stuff other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too.