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.
Just winning ballgames right now is important for us. I don’t think it’s a motivational thing to play the White Sox. If it was, it’d be a really good series for us to look forward to because it’s easy to get the adrenaline going with the rivalry and the way the fans get into the game. Our fans have been into the season since Day 1. Offensively, we really haven’t shown what we showed them last year. Hopefully, we can find that rhythm again.
If we can get Soriano swinging the bat well again with the way Derrek is swinging and add on Aramis around the All-Star break — maybe before, maybe after — if we can do that and stay pretty close in the division race, we’ll feel pretty confident.
I was hurt last year during the Cubs-Sox series. I think I was 12 days into the DL stint when we played the White Sox at their place. I was healthy and I knew I could play but I had to ride out the 15 days. Just to watch that atmosphere — it was like a playoff atmosphere — and to not be part of it, that stunk. I’ll be looking forward to it this year.