You don’t pay much attention to rumors, even if something pops up on the TV’s on the bottom line, although then it becomes a little more serious. But at the same time, when you’re a veteran guy, you’ve played for 10 years, you’ve seen plenty of rumors that have gotten shot down. You learn not to take things too seriously until you’re packing up your stuff and heading off to another team. You hear so many things that are supposed to come true, guys are supposed to be traded five or six times and are never traded once. You start to doubt all the rumors, I guess, even when you hear them floating around, unless you just talk to the player directly.
Demp’s in a different situation because they’re always going to have to be in contact with him to make sure they’re not wasting their time if he doesn’t want to go to a certain spot. For most guys, you don’t even hear anything until the general manager comes down and tells you you’re out of here. Demp’s in kind of a unique situation because he can control where he wants to go.
If I get a call from Theo or Jed, I’d be like oh, darn, there’s four, five days before the Trade Deadline, this is probably not about what gardener do you use in the Chicago area. If you get a phone call from them, you want to pick it up, especially at this time of year.
I wouldn’t say 99 percent, I’d say pretty much everybody in this clubhouse would approach that play the same way Sori did. The ball hits in the guy’s glove and rattles around, and right as you hit that line drive, you’re almost expecting it to get caught. It reminds me of that blooper of Sean Casey hitting the line drive over the third baseman’s head and hits off his glove and Sean thinks it’s caught. He throws his helmet down and then realizes the guy didn’t catch it, so he puts his helmet back on for whatever reason, and runs down to first and gets bang-bang thrown out and throws his helmet again.
It was one of those things — I think maybe it was more the frustration of the year in general that we’re having, so when something happens like that, the fans reacted. That’s one thing we’ve prided ourselves on this year. We’re not winning as many games as we thought we’d win this year but every single meeting we have, Dale commends us on how we play the game the right way and play hard, and Sori is one of those guys. I think the fans notice his defense and how things have gotten better working with Dave McKay. We don’t have any guys not run out balls. Obviously, that play yesterday, every single guy in this clubhouse would’ve reacted the same way and assumed you lined out.
It was hard for me to hear that from the fans. I know how much Sori means to me as a teammate. He plays hurt. I wish the fans could be inside this clubhouse and see what we see as players. Dave McKay didn’t know what Soriano is all about until he came over here and he said, “Man, I absolutely love that guy.” He said, “When I was on the other side, I wasn’t too sure. He hits home runs and watches them a little bit and enjoys it and enjoys the game.” Once you play on that guy’s team, you see. I was telling Sori that he and Rafael Furcal are my two favorite teammates. They come to the park with so much energy and they’re always happy. You wish the fans could get an inside look at a guy rather than just judging a guy from what they’ve read or heard.
Sunday could be my last game with the Cubs, but that’s how you have to approach every day, even if it’s not the last day of the season. You never know — you might go out on the field and run into a wall or have a bad injury and never play the game again. That’s the approach you should take every time you go on the field — that it’s your last game. Sometimes you forget that.
When you have injuries like I had this year, it reminds you of how much you enjoy playing the game and especially how much you enjoy being in a city like this. Hopefully, there’s something they can do to get me back here.
I know there’s some priorities on the team above me, and I understand that. They’re going to try to make this team better, whichever way they can. If it’s me they talk to first or I’m one of the last free agent acquisitions in the offseason, we’ll just wait and see. This has been the best two years of my career. After coming from Toronto and coming to an organization that has so much tradition and so much fan support, it’s been a relief. Like the other guys who have played here before, if you’re a free agent looking in, this is a great place to play. There have been multiple players who have made the same comment that if you play a 15-year career, you should play at least one year at Wrigley. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get two under my belt so far.
It’s a tough goodbye but at the same time, hopefully there’s more memories for myself and the fans. Hopefully, I can be a part of something special, which would, I’m sure, please the whole city for a long, long time.
As for Font, they should look for some type of medicine in the offseason to help him grow. It’s going to be tough for him. I don’t know if they have machines to hook him up to and stretch him out or whatever. Maybe he’s only 12. Maybe he has a fake birth certificate. Maybe he could hit a growth spurt in the offseason. We’ll see.
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 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.
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.
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.