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.
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.