Kosuke and I had a little miscommunication on Monday in Surprise. You always know the center fielder has priority over pretty much everybody on the field, and as far as the infielders are concerned, the shortstop has priority. As soon as you hear his voice, it’s his ball. Everybody backs off. That way he knows that, you know that.
On Monday, it was a situation for me where the ball went to right center and we both called it at the same time. I heard Kosuke in the background call it, and as the right fielder, I backed off. That’s how it went down. I guess it’s good to hash those things out before it starts counting and it counts against us in the loss column. It’s a play that could’ve cost us the game and we have to make sure we do a better job of communication the next time.
I’ve heard Lou’s comments — that I didn’t come here to share a job. In a sense, I try not to lose sight of what the real goal is at the end of the season, which is to win a World Series. At the same time, I’m a realist and I’m not one of those guys who’s going to go out and have a false sense of security about what my abilities are. I know what I can do on the baseball field and I feel like I bring a lot of things offensively to the table, whether it’s laying down a bunt or executing a hit and run, or moving a runner over by hitting the ball to the right side — just smart baseball things. We’ve got a bunch of guys on our team who play that way and are unselfish. The more guys you have like that in the lineup, the better chance you have to win.
Focusing on winning ballgames, especially when you haven’t won a World Series in more than 100 years, that’s what it’s going to come down to this year. I think Jim and Lou, they want to put their best nine guys out on the field. I’ll be the first to admit if I’m not swinging the bat well and I see my playing time go away, I’m not going to complain. I’ll just look in the mirror and try to figure things out in the cage and try to get more playing time.
I shared well as a child, but at the same time, I’ve been in this situation so many times, this is the only way I know how to handle it. I use it to drive me to win a job. If both of us are playing great, that will be the best scenario for this team. I didn’t train four, five, six hours a day in the offseason and do all my work mentally to prepare for this season to play sporadically. I’ll be ready to step in if they need me. My body is ready for it and I’m in shape physically and mentally.
I don’t want to lose sight of the ultimate goal which is to win a World Series. If that means I’m an everyday guy in center field, I’m ready for that.
I’m sure the fans are just as excited to get the real thing underway as we are. It’s great that we’re swinging the bats well and putting up good numbers in Spring Training, but everybody knows that doesn’t count. We want to make sure when April rolls around and those games start counting, we’re ready.
Kosuke is back, but it doesn’t matter as far as what I do. I’m going to approach my at-bats the same, and all the work I’m doing in the cage and the weight room, I’m going to approach it the same way. I’ve always prepared myself and my body to play every day and that’s what I’m going to do. Whether I’m in a platoon situation or it’s a situation where I’m strictly the fourth outfielder or a situation where I won the job, I’m always going to prepare myself to be an everyday guy. That way, if an opportunity does come about, then you’re prepared for it. If you’re sitting back and pouting and not approaching things the right way, that’s when you have a tendency to not be prepared when that opportunity comes about.
People say, “Oh, this game is a lot of luck.” I think when preparation meets opportunity, for me, that’s what luck is. If you’re not prepared when that opportunity comes about, you’re not going to give yourself that chance to capitalize on that so-called lucky opportunity.
Nothing’s really changed for me. I’ll approach things the same way, like the things we’ve been working on down in the cage with Gerald. You try to see the ball in detail — not just look at the ball but see it in detail and really track it and follow it. That forces you to keep your head still and slows the ball down. So whether there’s 40,000 people in the stands, or 5,000 people in the stands, whether I’m the fourth outfielder or a starter, all I’m worried about is keeping my head still and seeing the baseball. That’s all that matters.
That’s how I think guys at all levels perform. They take something that they’re keying off, whether it’s in batting practice or down in the cage with Gerald, they try to take that into the game and work on something new every day and try to become a better player. That’s what you do over a whole career. It’s a game of experience. I’m definitely learning every year.
As for Fontenot, he was a little under the weather last week — there was the flu or food poisoning or whatever it was going around the clubhouse. He was pretty sensitive last week, so I need to lay off him. I see the sensitive side come through. He came in, and he was pouting. I have to give him a week off and come back with full force next week with the Mike Fontenot session.
I think the combination of him feeling under the weather and his big movie star debut in “My Boys,” I think he had a lot on his plate and he didn’t need to be reading my blog to give him one more thing to worry about. We’ll give him a rest this week. This might be worse than a rest.