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.
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’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.
Guys are sticking up for Milton. MLB was basing its argument on Milton bumping the umpire, and if that’s the case, and the bill of his helmet did happen to graze the umpire’s hat, I never saw the umpire move back or anything. I don’t think anyone thought Milton would get suspended. It’s unfortunate he did. It is only one game.
We recognize as players the era we play in, and that any time you have a good year and hit a couple home runs, people will talk about performance enhancing drugs or things of that nature. That’s something we’re prepared for. If you happen to go on a tear or hit five or six home runs in a week, people are going to assume it’s a steroid issue. I think we’ve got to be happy as an organization and happy as players who are part of the Players Association that we’ve taken steps to try to clean the game up. Most of the issues that have been talked about — besides Manny Ramirez — have happened in the past. That’s something we can be proud of as a group. We’ve done our job to clean things up, and if you use and you’re caught, you’re going to be suspended.
Theriot’s thing is hamburgers. He eats a lot of Drumsticks. Have you seen those ice cream things? I’ve seen him eat French toast. I just follow him around and try to eat whatever he eats. He’ll occasionally take his shirt off and go in the weight room but he just works beach muscles. It’s not functional stuff that would help you on the baseball field. He goes in there and does bi’s and tri’s and chest, and then checks out his spray tan in the mirror. Maybe we’ll start getting on Theriot a little more. He gives me a high five the next day when he sees something in the paper I said about him. Font gets upset. Theriot’s off to a great start, and not on the juice.
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.
The last two days here, you really have to struggle to bang through the long days. I think you can smell the end. You treat the New York trip almost like it’s Opening Day. I think it’s a good thing we play these exhibitions. The travel will be tough for us but we’ll probably go through worse travel trips in the middle of the year. It’ll be good to play in front of a packed house for two days. It’ll be nice to see the stadium — we’ve heard so many things about it.
Now, you see everybody dress up nice. Font got his new outfit from “Gap for Kids” and Theriot’s suit is from “Men’s Wearhouse.” When you see those things, you know it’s time to go. Guys are excited and ready to get out of here. The new luggage tags are good, Otis yelling at everybody is another good sign. Like I said before, guys are excited and they want it to count. This trip will help us regain our focus. You have those Opening Day jitters and hopefully we get them out of the way and roll into Houston and start playing good baseball.
I love watching Patton pitch. He’s 24 years old and attacking the strike zone. The only problem Lou has with guys from a pitching standpoint is when they’re not throwing strikes and that’s not what Patton is all about. He’s about pounding the strike zone. I can see why any manager or any pitching coach could fall in love with a guy like that.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s with us the whole year. He’s not your typical Rule 5 guy. I think he can have a big impact on our team. You listen to his attitude and talking to him, he was so excited about spring. He was talking to me about how in Spring Training he does what he has to do physically in the weight room and out on the mound to prepare himself for the season and once the bell rings, it’s time to get after it. To hear that kind of attitude from a young kid — he has a lot of confidence in his stuff and that’s what you need to pitch up here.
He’ll be a good addition if he’s on our team. I think he’s going to have a long successful career. You can just tell. It’s not just a guy’s stuff, because there are guys with great stuff, but they don’t have the right attitude. He’s got the right combination and it’s exciting to see a player like 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.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but I looked at the schedule the other day and we still have 20 games left, and you’re like, man, that’s a lot of games. I think Lou said around the 20th of this month he’ll start running his guys out there more to get back to back at-bats in different games. It’s a lot easier when you’re playing every day to be able to fine-tune your swing. If you have a couple days off, it’s tough to use your good experiences or bad experiences in the game you had before. It’s easier when you’re playing every single day to make those adjustments. Lou’s been around the game enough that he knows that. He’ll start to see more results from guys playing two, three, four days in a row, then having a day off.
We’d like to always come out of the gate, first game of Spring Training, and everybody is clicking. Guys are doing their work in the cage and preparing and trying to get better but it’s just a situation of timing now. In my case, you’re working on different mechanical things and trying to shore them up. Rhythm and timing are always the last things that come to you. Once that clicks, the game comes to you again.
As far as the NCAA tournament goes, I think I’ll have a better chance this year because I’m going to have my wife fill out a couple sheets. She’ll pick the teams because she thinks the Cardinals are cool or the Blue Devils are pretty neat. I think I’ve got five or six years running where I always get the worst sheet. That’s why I’m going to let her do it. I think I’ll have a better chance.
A week has gone by since I last blogged, and Fontenot just walked by and he’s still as small as he was when I first met him. He hasn’t grown at all. We’ll leave it at that.
This is my first post, and in my blog, there could be a lot of hatred toward me from my teammates. I’m going to be calling them out throughout the year, mostly Fontenot. Fontenot will probably be inserted in my blog at least once a week. Whether or not the subject is about how Aaron Miles has a lot of work to do to be as good looking as Mark DeRosa or whether it’s me giving somebody else a hard time on the team like first base coach Matt Sinatro, there will always be some joke about Mike Fontenot at the end. Every day, he does something that has to be talked about.
Instead of me picking a name for the blog, fans can send suggestions. They can base the name off the 2009 Cubs or they can come up with something to give me a hard time.
This will be fun, and I’ll try to give the fans an inside look as to what it’s like in the clubhouse. One thing I don’t do that much is smile and look like I’m having a good time on the field. I want them to see another side of the players, like when we were at the Cubs Convention and did a “For Women Only” panel. This will be a behind the scenes kind of thing. They might see me on the field and say, “Man, he looks like a real serious guy.” Off the field, guys are totally different.
Mark DeRosa told me the Mexican team called and wanted him to play for them in the World Baseball Classic. I thought he was joking, but he said Team Mexico called him. He’s always kidding around but he was serious about this.
My blog is definitely going to be better than DeRosa’s. I’m definitely going to be tougher on my teammates.
FONTENOT: DeRo’s a good guy. Reed’s an idiot.
JOHNSON: There you go. Maybe I’ll insert Font twice a week after that comment.