August 2010

Dying to get back to work

ANAHEIM – I got my work in today, sitting out the final game of my suspension, and afterward at my locker I was telling the writers that I was serving out my sentence and had 24 hours to go before my release. I told them the first thing I was going to do was call my wife, then get a hamburger. They thought it was pretty funny.

The truth is, it’s been no fun at all sitting around watching my teammates bust their tails on TV, not being able to do anything. I’m a player, and not playing hurts as much as any injury. I never got used to it last year when I injured my groin running into walls and had to miss a chunk of the season. I’ll never get used to not playing until I’m retired, and that’s a long way off, I hope.

I told the media it’s probably a little blessing in disguise, giving me a little break, but I don’t ever like watching my team play knowing I could be doing something to help us win. I hate what happened in Detroit, the whole incident. I’m still frustrated, upset about that. I was heated, and I don’t like to be like that. But I have to let it go and move forward now, try not to think about it.

I’ve been asked a lot about making the move to right field to make room for young Peter Bourjos coming up to play center. The truth is, they didn’t come to me and say, “You’ve got to go to right field.’ They told me it was up to me. I had to think about it. I decided that if it made the team better, I was all for it. I had to think about the big picture, the long haul, and this could prolong my career, keep me on the field more. And that’s a good thing for everybody, I feel.

Bourjos is straight speed. That young man can fly. Watching him on the road trip run down some balls, even go after ones he didn’t get to, I was like, “Wow. That’s impressive.” As we play together more, I’ll know his range, what he can get to, and let him have it.

Right field is not center field. Center field is fun; you’ve got a lot of power out there. It’s a power trip, really. You can call off infielders, the left fielder, the right fielder. Anything you can get to, it’s yours. It’s not easy to give up something you love, whatever it is, and this isn’t easy for me. But if it makes the Angels better and helps us win, I’m all for it.

I’ve won nine Rawlings Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger, but I’ve never won a World Series championship ring. That’s what we’re all playing for, and I’ll do whatever I can to help move us in that direction.

The toughest part of playing right field so far has been playing the corner. It’s a totally different look in right, with a lot of top-spin on the ball, hook and spin. When the ball’s hopping around in that corner, you’re thinking, “What are you going to give up, a double or a triple?” It’s something new for me to learn, and that’s a good thing. A guy told me a long time ago that once you think you’ve got it all figured out, your career’s over. I’ve got more to learn, so I’ve got some time left.

Mike Scioscia came over after the media guys left, and we talked for a while. He played against the guy who made me want to be a baseball player, Andre Dawson, and we talked about how he made the transition from center to right and actually became a more productive hitter. It was easier on his legs, and as a hitter, everything starts there. I see that as a good sign. I think I’m getting better all the time as a hitter, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me – and our team.

There’s a lot of season left, and I’m ready to get back out there and bang some balls around and have some fun.