It’s not how you start – it’s how you finish. A slow start by a team can happen for a lot of reasons, but it’s never anything to panic about. That’s especially true when you have a team of veterans, like we do, who know how to play the game. This is a confident team, and with good reason.
You look at the talent we have, up and down the lineup and on our pitching staff, and you know it’s just a matter of time before it comes together. A lot of times early in the season you’re not in your rhythm, you’re not feeling like yourself. You might get some hits, but even then you know you’re not right. Or you might be hitting line drives at guys and getting nothing to show for it. Early-season numbers can be very deceiving.
There are some guys who come out hitting .450 early in April and May, and everyone’s saying it’s their breakout year. And you know eventually they’ll finish about where they normally do. You find at the end of the season he’s hitting .260, or whatever he usually hits. Another guy might be hitting .150 in April, and everyone’s saying he’s done. And you know he’ll end up hitting .315 with 30 homers.
It’s a long season, and the cream rises to the top eventually.
In this game, you are what you are. You see guys like A-Rod or Mark Teixeira, for example, or David Ortiz, and they might not be driving the ball early. But you know they’ll come around. They’re hitters; that’s who they are. They’ll end up with their numbers, unless they get hurt.
Fans sometimes overreact early in the season, because they’re fans. They want to win every game and get upset when their team loses. We don’t ever want to lose as players, but we understand how this works. It’s a long season, with highs and lows, good times and bad times. You work through the rough times and stay confident that the good times are on the way.
The truth is, you don’t want to be peaking too early. I mean, you’ll take it if it’s there, but you want to be strong at the finish, when it really matters. You don’t want to peak in June and July and fall off in August, September. That’s what I mean when I say it’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s what counts.
Personally, it’s taken me a little longer than usual to get where I need to be physically this season. I had the sports hernia surgery after the season, and I wasn’t able to do my usual offseason workouts. I couldn’t really do anything in January. All I could do was hit.
When we got to Spring Training, I was skeptical about how the groin would react. If I made a really hard turn, was it going to hold up? I never went through anything like this before, and Mike Scioscia was telling me to take it easy. He’s a great manager; he always sees the big picture. He wanted me to slow-roll everything. Once I broke the scar tissue sliding, it was a big relief. It wasn’t until the last two weeks of the spring I really started playing.
I feel good about where I am right now, all things considered. I’m hitting the ball hard, and even though I have only one home run, they come in bunches for me. The big thing is, I’m having no pain with the groin. I’m confident I’ll be where I want to be in the summer, when it heats up.
I really like our team. I liked it last year, and I like it this year. We’re a little different, with some new guys trying to establish themselves, but we’re basically the same team with the same chemistry.
Remember how it was last season? We were a .500 team in June. The Rays killed us in Florida to end a road trip, and we were 29-29. Mike Scioscia had a talk with us after that game, and we came home and went off on a tear. We ended up with 97 wins, which means from June 12 to the finish, we were 68-36.
Hopefully, our fans are patient enough to know where the Angels are going to be in August, September. We’re fine where we are. This team knows how to win. I know the sun’s going to shine sooner or later – on and off the field, in baseball and in life.