Hello, folks. Today’s Q and A is very simple:
Question: Who would you like to hear from when Kevin and I while we’re at Spring Training next week? Nats? Former Chiefs? Players on other teams?
Answer: You let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Opening day is in less than a month.
Does it feel like baseball season yet? My scorebook arrived in the mail today, and the weather’s been significantly better already than it was at the start of last season – so, in a way, yes. Jason and I will be heading down to Florida soon for a week at spring training, but most of the Nationals players, coaches and executives are already there. I caught up with one of them last week – Chiefs trainer Atsushi Toriida, who’ll return for his second year with Syracuse in 2012.
How much travel has gone into your offseason?
A lot. After the season, my parents came over from Japan for the first time – my uncle, aunt, wife and kids all came together. At that time I was in Washington, D.C., so we did a tour in D.C. We went to New York after that and stayed there three or four days and then flew to Niagara Falls. Then we came back to New York and then they flew out to Japan. My wife and kids drove down to Florida and we stayed here until the beginning of December. Then we flew back to Japan December 1st or 2nd. We stayed at my wife’s place for about a week, then we went to my parent’s place which is about two hours away by plane. We stayed there for about a month, then flew back to my wife’s place for about two weeks, then came back to Florida January 24th. So…we’ve been traveling a lot. *laughs*
How tough has that been on your kids?
My daughter just started going to school this month. She’s only three years old and she’s going to pre-K in Florida and she loves it. My son is just one so he doesn’t have to worry about school yet.
So how did the offseason feel for you?
It was good. I spent a lot of time with my family and my wife’s family, we get together a lot from Christmas to New Year’s. My parents love to see my kids.
When did you find out you were coming back to the Chiefs?
Well, my contract is up at the end of October so usually they call or email me every year. They said you’re going back at the end of October, so that’s what I expected after the season finished because I didn’t see any moves on the big league side.
How much will you miss Randy Knorr this year?
A lot. Not only me, but all of Syracuse will miss him a lot. But we get Tony Beasley, who’s a pretty good guy. I like him a lot, too. We can have a lot of fun with Tony.
This seems like it will be another fun coaching staff.
Definitely. I know (new Chiefs hitting coach) Troy Gingrich, we’ve been on the same team for three or four years. Last year was a different kind of fun. Tony’s a pretty successful manager in the minor leagues, so we expect to win more. The fact I know the hitting and pitching coaches already makes it easier for me to work with them.
Is anything different now that you’re going into your second year in Triple-A?
As a trainer, every year is different. I can’t really expect whats going to happen, I need to prepare for anything. Traveling-wise last year, there was stuff I’d never done before, like flying to different cities. But I can prepare a lot of things before the season starts, hotels and flying and such, because I now know how it goes. So that’s going to give me a lot of confidence. Last year I was excited to go to Triple-A, but this year I feel more confident and like I can prepare a lot of things better this year.
What was the highlight of your offseason?
My daughter turned three years old last year. In Japan at ages three and seven we have some kind of traditional ceremony. Usually, people do it in the summertime, but we did that in December after we get back home. She and my wife dressed up in kimonos, and we went to a shrine to do some ceremony stuff.
How much are you looking forward to the season?
As an organization, a lot of people expect the major league team to do better than in the past. Since I started working for the organization, we really didn’t have a lot of winning big league teams in the organization, but this year will be different. We expect the MLB team to win. That’s going to give a lot of motivation and confidence to the minor league teams. That’s something new to me.
Spring Training is underway down in Viera, Florida on the ol’ Space Coast. Look for updates from Nats camp as Kevin and I come to you live from camp. We’ll have all sorts of goodies. Maybe even candy.
Since we are not there yet, we figured we’d give you a primer from one of the best sources for Nats news, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (AdamKilgoreWP on Twitter).
Jason Benetti: What do you think the chances are that Bryce Harper starts the season in Washington?
Adam Kilgore: I don’t think they’re that good. I think there’s some reasons why you’d want him on the team. His talent. He’s a really talented guy. He gives them a powerful bat in the middle of the lineup. The reasons against are stronger. Despite the fact that he is so talented, he’s never played a full professional season because he got hurt last year. Also, he doesn’t have 600 at-bats as a professional. That’s if you count spring training and the fall league. He doesn’t have that much experience and he’s never played above Double-A. We all know that Mike Rizzo is really adamant about developing players fully before they get to the majors. He believes correctly that the way to make a mistake is to leave a player in the minors too long as opposed to bringing him up too soon and having to send him back to the minors. That can be a catastrophe with a player’s confidence. He would have to have to do everything pitch perfect this spring and probably then some to make the team.
On the business side of things, where if you just wait a month, you’re basically ensuring another year that he’ll play for the Nationals before free agency. You could be sacrificing one year at 25 for one month.
JB: What positions are up for grabs in spring training?:
AK: There’s three spots. One would be the utility infield spot between Steve Lombardozzi and Andres Blanco. For Lombardozzi, if he makes it, the challenge would be getting him enough at-bats. You don’t want to curb his development. They want to take advantage of what he brings, they don’t want to make it completely difficult with Zimmermann, Espinosa and Desmond.
Number two would be the last bench spot, Blanco, Lombardozzi, Jason Michaels, Brett Carroll, the non-roster guys. They probably want that to be a right-handed bat.
The last spot would be the last guy on the pitching staff, probably the last guy on the pitching staff which, if healthy, probably has to be Wang because he has no options left. Detwiler no options. Lannan does have an option.
One pitcher, two bench players and that’s pretty much it. In years past, they didn’t even know if they had five starting pitchers and that’s a sign of a team that’s going nowhere. That that’s settled in mind-February is a sign of how far they’ve come.
JB: So then what are you focused on this spring?
AK: Good question. I’d like to see how the team comes together. It’s kinda not been talked about too much, but how Desmond and Espinosa progress. That’s gonna determine a lot of how good this team is going to be if they can take the next step.
Morse playing in left. Going back to the outfield. How does he handle year two? Is he more comfortable?
I’m also really excited to see what Edwin Jackson can develop like. See if he can make the changes the Nationals want in his delivery. They think he might be 1) tipping pitches and 2) showing the ball too early to hitters from the wind.
JB: Davey Johnson: what does he do differently in year two?
AK: No, I think he’s going to be a lot different. He wasn’t really comfortable with the team based on the way Jim Riggleman managed the bench and the bullpen. Maybe less defense on the bench, more hitting. He wants to feel really comfortable as far as innings go in the bullpen. Last year they basically had no long men. He wants to have two this year (Gorzelanny and Detwiler). They might have the swagger he brings to the team. Even though Davey comes off as a folksy 70-year-old guy, he’s actually really cocky. I think that’s going to rub off on the Nationals in a good way. He wants guys who aren’t afraid to challenge other teams.
JB: Finally, how much do you think the Nationals harmed their farm system in the Gio Gonzalez trade?
AK: Ultimately they feel like they gave away three guys you could find. Peacock is probably a third or fourth starter. Milone is probably a fourth or fifth starter. It’s not like they gave up talents they won’t be able to find elsewhere every year in the free agent market or in a trade. Derek Norris, I would say the same thing, they like him but this guy has not hit much higher than .200 his past couple of years despite some really awesome on-base percentages.
The one guy, if you gave them a lie detector test, said who are you most worried about in that trade, they’d say no doubt A.J. Cole. He has the highest ceiling. 6’5″, they paid him two million dollars to sign, they drafted him in the fourth round. He has a huge upside.
Coming up Thursday, Kevin does Annie Hall. Angst and wit.
Anybody else feel like baseball season is right around the corner? There’s a reason for that…it is. (Though that’s a bit of a lengthy corner, still.) We’re about a month and a half away from the Chiefs’ 2012 opening day, and for the most part, we don’t know who’s going to be there. One name we have a pretty good idea on, though, is Seth Bynum. The IL All-Star should start his fourth year with the Chiefs this season, and he returned to the Chiefs Hot Stove last week in Liverpool. Hope you got a chance to chat with Seth there – but never fear if you don’t, because we did. Here’s what the slugging middle infielder had to say about his offseason…
Kevin Brown: I hear you’ve had an eventful offseason so far.
Seth Bynum: I’m a proud papa. I have a little daughter, she’s six weeks old – Madison Jade. It’s life-changing. It’s awesome.
KB: How stressful is it being a first-time father?
SB: You get worn out. You don’t get much sleep. You have to coordinate with your wife, your partner on how things go, but overall it’s wonderful.
KB: She didn’t accompany you to Syracuse, obviously, but your dad Kurt is here. Is this his first trip to Syracuse?
SB: First trip to Syracuse, yep. I wanted to bring him, I showed him around town today so he’s like a kid in a candy store. He’s pumped.
KB: I know last year he got to go to Fenway Park for the game and he said he was a lifelong Red Sox fan. You had a big day, too, with a couple of hits. You reflect back on it now, a couple of months after – how much fun was it?
SB: It was awesome. You can’t explain it into words. I mean, ever since you’re a little kid you want to play in that ballpark. You go there, your first game there, and your father’s there, the one who’s coached you your whole life…it was a great moment.
KB: So outside of the new kid, what’s your offseason been like?
SB: It’s been interesting. I went to Venezuela and played there for a month. I struggled a little bit, but it was a culture shock for me. It’s a different world, a different experience but I loved it. I’ve just been working out and getting ready for the season.
KB: I know a bunch of different guys from the organization were down there in the winter…did you play with anyone from the Nationals?
SB: I played with Carlos Maldonado – he actually got me the job down there.
KB: First time playing winter ball ever?
SB: I played in Puerto Rico three years ago. But Puerto Rico and Venezuela, they’re totally different.
KB: What is the difference?
SB: The crowds. In Venezuela, you get 20,000 people a night. Puerto Rico’s on the come-up, I heard, but when I played there, there weren’t many fans. (In Venezuela) they heckle you, man, they’re all over you.
KB: You’ve got a new manager this year, Tony Beasley. What’s your experience with him?
The first three months of last season were adorned with glitzy, yet effortless defense from the shortstop position thanks to a young man from New Jersey named Chirs McConnell. His flair between third and second was a nightly treat. His bat, though, admittedly, was behind his defense. I caught up with Chris by phone today and asked him about his winter, his offense and his budding literary career.
Jason Benetti: What are you doing in the offseason?
Chris McConnell: Baseball lessons. In the afternoon until night I basically give individual lessons or team lessons.
JB: What do you teach?
CM: Hitting and infield.
JB: Where do you do it?
CM: It’s a baseball academy that a kid a year older than me who used to play pro ball. He got a hold of me on Facebook and wanted to know if I wanted to do lessons so I’ve been doing that for the past two offseasons.
JB: You go anywhere on vacation?
CM: I saw some friends in Massachusetts. Then, we went up to Maine for a few days. I went to Florida. New York and Philly right near me. I had a friend from California come. That’s pretty much where I’ve been.
JB: You ready to play baseball again?
CM: Yeah, you know this time of year it gets boring around here and I’m ready to take off and get the season going.
JB: When did you know you’d be back with the Nationals?
CM: Four days after the World Series, you’re a free agent. Even before then my agent was talking to Doug Harris and he said they wanted me back. I kinda knew around October I was going to come back.
JB: Was that a good thing?
CM: Yeah. My agent talked to Doug and they said we envision Chris as a big-leaguer and not just a fill-in. Saying they wanted me back as a free agent felt good. I didn’t want to go to free agency. I liked where I was at so I signed back.
JB: Did you feel like you were hitting the ball better in Harrisburg (after being sent down)?
CM: I learned a lot from Troy Gingrich. He knows a lot about hitting. I really wasn’t using my legs. I knew it for years but I didn’t know exactly what….I couldn’t put two and two together. He noticed it the first two days I was there and started putting it into the games. It’s hard to learn something so big mechanically and put it right into the games. I could definitely see the results. It’s not the result I wanted but I think it set me up better for this year.
JB: Have you been working on that this offseason?
CM: Yeah. A few drills we did in Harrisburg, I pretty much do them every day when I hit. It’s pretty much getting cemented in. It’s pretty permanent now.
JB: How frustrating was Syracuse last year?
CM: It was frustrating. It was my first time in Triple-A. I guess for a few weeks I tried to use that as an excuse for me to feel better. It never came around. I was disappointed. I was a free agent with a new team and wanted to impress. It never came around, but hopefullyI learned something from it. I think this year I’m definitely going to benefit from it.
JB: Was there a part of you when you went to Harrisburg thinking, “Where do I go from here?”
CM: I wasn’t ever worried about my career so much. It was more trying to make the best out of it. What am I gonna do. I think earlier in my career I would have been real mad. There’s nothing I can do about it and tried to make the best of it.
JB: You read any good books this offseason?
CM: Yeah, a good amount. I finished school, so I had all of those books. Ever since I’ve gotten done, I’ve had all this free time. Power of Myth by Steve Campbell. The Dharma Bums, which is a Jack Kerouac book. I started reading Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, but that comes in spurts. I’m always reading newspapers and stuff.
JB: What’s spring training for you?
CM: I enjoy getting down there at first because I’m stuck inside all the time so to get outside and do all that. By the third week, everyone wants to go to their affiliate and just start. You’re just playing the same team over and over and you just want a change of scenery.
JB: Is there anything good to do exploration-wise in Viera? I know you’re a big explorer….
CM: Melbourne has a pretty good little downtown. Every other Friday they had live bands downtown and I’d make my way over there. Or, me and my wife would go to the beach. I didn’t have cable or internet in my apartment. I literally had nothing to do. I didn’t have furniture. We just had two director’s chairs and an Aerobed. I would get home, sit for a little bit, get bored and go wander off somewhere. I can’t sit and lay on a beach. I get bored too quick.
JB: You said you finished school. What’s your degree in?
CM: I got my associate’s in December. Now I’m going to take a few months off and go ahead and get my bachelor’s in the fall, September. This’ll be the first time in two years I actually won’t be doing any homework in the baseball season, which is a relief.
JB: You told me by text that you’re having something published. Is that still happening?
CM: Yeah. In April.
JB: And what is it?
CM: It’s kinda, basically just a short story. It was just—there’s only so much to do around here. I just wrote this up and sent it in to a few places. It’s getting published, I guess in April in Ascent Aspirations magazine based out of California.
Culture Challenge Thursday…..Subway v. Domino’s. On a neutral site. Kevin’s got the tale of the tape.
Randy Knorr’s headed back to the bigs this year. Syracuse’s 2011 manager will serve as bench coach on Davey Johnson’s 2012 staff, a move that came as to a surprise to a bunch of people – including Knorr himself, who figured he was Syracuse-bound again. I caught up with the always-entertaining Randy yesterday, who was happy to chat about baseball and other games that involving hitting a white ball. (Fore!)
Were you surprised when you got the job?
Yeah, it was a surprise. They didn’t really talk to me until almost a month after the season – actually longer than that. I didn’t find out till the week before Thanksgiving. I just figured they were going with someone else – it kinda shocked me when Davey called.
How much are you going to miss managing?
Well, for me, the bench coach is managing without making the decision. I’m gonna follow the game and in my mind I’m always thinking about what I’d do – in a sense I will be managing without making the moves. But I’ll miss managing for sure. I love managing and instructing, and hopefully we can get back to teaching. I think teaching in the big leagues is a lost art, we need to get back to that…some coaches don’t because of what their salaries are. But there’s still a lot to learn in this game. Frank Robinson told me “Don’t ever close your eyes or close your ears, because there might be something you’ll miss.” For him to say that to me, what does that tell you? It might be an approach to get through to a player you want.
What do you think about the makeup of the team right now?
I went up there in September and they played very well, it was fun to watch them and it looks like they can carry over to this year. We beat some good teams, the Braves and Phillies, and I put us right up there with them. Health is going to dictate a lot.
One of the big moves the Nationals made was the Gio Gonzalez trade. He’s a great player, but I imagine you’ll miss Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock.
Yeah, when you’re around guys for as long as you are around those guys, it’s tough. But you look at the trade – it’s gonna benefit them and benefit us. They probably weren’t gonna have the chance to start the year in the bigs with us. Now the last time I’ve seen Gio was in A ball, he was striking out ten to twelve guys then. He’ll occasionally get behind hitters, but he’s got the stuff to get out of jams.
Tony Beasley will take over for you in Syracuse. What’s your opinion of how he’ll fit in?
Actually, I think he’s gonna be pretty good. In 2006 he was the third base coach in the big leagues, and last year we had a lot of Double-A/Triple-A conversations. I think he’s gonna do well. I like what Doug Harris has done and the scouting department for getting some of these players, too. And they get (Greg) Booker back and Troy Gingrich who is highly regarded, he’s our best minor league hitting instructor. Troy brings knowledge and work ethic, he’s relentless, hes very patient, and I think that’s a big key to success.
Have you done any baseball work in the offseason?
A couple friends of mine run the St. Petersburg college baseball team and I’ve come down and helped them. It’s been a lot of fun for me. I’m not in charge and I can say whatever I want.
That could be dangerous.
Yeah it is, because I think there’s a profanity law in schools and that doesn’t work with me. *laughs*
What else have you done in the offseason?
I did figure out one thing this offseason – it’s absolutely amazing how bad I am at golf. And I play twice a week. I refuse to take a lesson because I figure I’ve got the rest of my life to learn how to play. But I play a lot of golf by myself because I’m so bad. I’m not as bad as Barkley though. All my friends are good – I played with (Auburn manger) Gary Cathcart and (Nashville hitting coach) Al LeBoeuf and I really thought they were going to just send me home. I play at 3:00 in the afternoon so nobody else is coming and I don’t hit anybody. I can shoot par if nobody sees those 11 shots on a hole. Sometimes the card reads 82 – if I hit it off a house three times and get it in the fairway the fourth time, I figure those first three don’t count, right?
They sure don’t count for me.
Well, I’ll tell you what, it might be the death of me. I might break a club or something on a course when nobody else is around and accidentally stab myself. I haven’t broken any clubs this year, though, so that’s good.
Today’s lesson: don’t go golfing in the same area code as Randy Knorr. Send us your suggestions for players and coaches, past and present, at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we’ll try and ring ‘em up.
Late last year, the Nationals added Ryan Tatusko to the Chiefs roster. In gaining Tatusko, the Chiefs got a right-handed pitcher AND a social media maven. He’s an absolute must-follow on Twitter.
And since he’s so darn good at it, we decided to take our Q&A to his home court Tuesday.
So, here it is, as seen on Twitter @RyanTatusko and @ChiefsRadio (Ryan’s responses begin with @ChiefsRadio and are in bold):
@RyanTatusko What have you done this offseason? @ChiefsRadio I got to play winter ball in venezuela which was amazing, I took a little time off with family and friends but I’m training now @ChiefsRadio in Indiana. @ChiefsRadio I got to play winter ball in venezuela which was amazing, I took a little time off with family and friends but I’m training now @RyanTatusko What’s your training routine? @ChiefsRadio I have a facility here that drew and I used to go too, so I’ll go throw and work on mechanics for about an hr to 90min then @ChiefsRadio I get my running in then it’s off to the gym! @ChiefsRadio i get to the gym about 4 days a week, but I’ll throw and run 5 @RyanTatusko What’s the most memorable experience you had in Venezuela? @ChiefsRadio umm we had a riot delay against Aragua because people wouldn’t stop throwing glass bottles on the field, that was interesting @ChiefsRadio but playing wise I threw in front of about 20,000 people in caracas. The atmosphere was electrifying @RyanTatusko You didn’t cause the riot delay, did you? @ChiefsRadio hahah no, they werent happy that we scored 4 runs in the top of the inning so they got rowdy when the inning ended. I’ve had @ChiefsRadio rain delays but that was my first riot delay @ChiefsRadio pitching coach Greg Booker pointed some things out to me that I had previously noticed, and we worked a lot and felt @ChiefsRadio I was really turning a corner in feeling more comfortable with my lower body mechanics and I felt like the results were @ChiefsRadio starting to show on the field, I feel I had my best outings in the last month of the yr, not only that but the good outings @ChiefsRadio we’re more consistent, unfortunately I hit the end of the year, but I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off in 2012 @chiefsradio Make that 2011 lol @RyanTatusko We didn’t know you could see into the future. :) What teammates have you talked to most this offseason? @ChiefsRadio I saw a lot of Wilkie, Maldonado, and Flores in Venezuela so I talked to them a lot. I also said my goodbyes to peacock and @ChiefsRadio Milone. @RyanTatusko What was your favorite city to travel to in the International League last year? @ChiefsRadio I enjoyed Scranton and the “haunted hotel” it was funny listening to everyone psych themselves out! But I enjoyed the city @ChiefsRadio I also liked Leigh valley, and Gwinnett those were my top 3. @ChiefsRadio I cannot wait to be in indianapolis since I grew up 20min from the stadium @RyanTatusko Have you tinkered with any of your pitches this offseason? Added any pitches? @ChiefsRadio tinkered…..yes. With changes in mechanics comes constant tinkering, I’m trying to throw more 2 seamers to compliment my @ChiefsRadio cutter, I’ve thrown a 2 weaker before so I guess you can say I’m re-adding it and tinkering with it! @RyanTatusko Are you a movie guy? Seen any good movies this offseason? @ChiefsRadio big movie guy! Saw many in Spanish! Umm money all was good I was behind that curve since I was in vz. I liked real steel @ChiefsRadio reminded me of playing rock em sock em robots as a kid…..you got any suggestions? @RyanTatusko Wait a sec, you’re working out AND answering questions? @RyanTatusko You’re a magician. Few more before I let you go….what’s the one thing fans don’t but should know about a baseball clubhouse? @ChiefsRadio oohhhhh good one! It’s like our zen room. We do whatever we can to be relaxed some people have their minds on the game and some @ChiefsRadio don’t. There are a ton of things going on, but our life is in there. I spend 1/2 my day in there from eating, showering, @ChiefsRadio surfing the net, or reading, it’s also where most of your friendships are made on the team. There and the bus rides! @RyanTatusko Playing to the crowd. Lastly, what are you most looking forward to about spring training? @ChiefsRadio cleats on the dirt! There is only so much you can do indoors, I’m looking forward to getting back on the field and proving to @ChiefsRadio myself that the true me is a better pitcher than what I showed in the first 3/4 of 2011….but most of all I’m looking forward @ChiefsRadio to more twitterviews and conversations with you!
Great chatting with Ryan Tatusko. It’s hard not to root for someone so open, honest and creative. Get to know him on Twitter @RyanTatusko. He’s a very welcoming guy.
Thursday on the blog, Kevin tells us exactly what he thinks about the music from Cats. It’s the Chiefs Culture Challenge. See you then for some mew-sings.
Michael Aubrey was one of Syracuse’s best offensive performers last season – with one legendary four-home run game standing above the rest. But he won’t be doing it again this year. After a Google search revealed nothing about Aubrey’s 2012 baseball plans, I decided to call him up yesterday and ask him myself – only to find out we’d seen the last of Aubrey on a professional baseball field. Here’s why.
So, what’s on tap for next year?
Nothing right now – I’m starting school today. I played nine great seasons, I’m at a point where the offers weren’t much because of the knee surgery I had last year and it’s been a little battle getting that (knee) where it needs to be. With that and the stresses of not being with my family, I’m retiring.
Is this a 100% retirement?
Yeah, I’m pretty certain. I’ve got one and a half years of school to finish my accounting degree at LSU-Shreveport, and that’s my main focus starting today. That’s how much time I would have had left at Tulane. I have to transfer now because of the convenience of living at home and I’m not going through the travel of going to New Orleans, but being a liberal arts school like Tulane, you lose some hours.
Did you decide back in Tulane that you would finish your degree some day?
Absolutely. My intentions of going to school in the first place were to complete my degree. Circumstances arose when I was picked in the first round and had an opportunity I couldn’t give up.
Was the knee surgery a large part of your decision to retire?
Absolutely. Being an older veteran guy, you’ve been around for a little while, know what it’s like to play every day, what it takes…with the knee surgery, I don’t know how it’s going to respond when I start putting the stresses on it. It’d be different if I was free and easy, but with the stresses of being successful as a baseball player – I was at point where I was going to be on the fence.
Do you think you’ll ever second-guess your decision?
I don’t think that I’ll ever regret anything I’ve done. Baseball’s tough, man, not just physically but mentally. I have two younger kids ages six and three that are so active, and I won’t miss anything.
Any chance you’ll be a coach some day?
You know what, I’ve had several coaching opportunities already. But I’ve lived that lifestyle already. I don’t think the reward is worth the risk of spending that much time away from my family. I’m very family-oriented with my brothers and parents, and I’ve been away for the last nine years. It’s easy to say that when I’m done playing I’m done for good. Does that mean not helping out local guys? Absolutely not, the love for game will always be there – but not as a lifestyle. I’ll be always involved in it, though.
I know you’re a big reader. Anything good you’ve caught up on since the end of the season?
Some intermediate accounting books and principles of management, that’s filling up the library right now. It’s going to shift to the foundations of business soon.
What do you plan to do with the degree?
Nothing major, I’m just trying to be a family man. Initially you hope to become a CPA and then work in some type of firm – something decent where you can enjoy yourself.
I was talking to Matt Antonelli and he told me you won the Chiefs’ fantasy football league this year.
Yes. That was phenomenal. I had a real streaky season. I started out 2-0, lost five in a row, then won six in a row. I had all the momentum going into the playoffs, I guess. A lot of guys that I had still had something to play for at the end of year, like Tom Brady and Ray Rice for first round byes. There wasn’t a lot of trash talking in the league though, that’s what was surprising – outside of (Collin) Balester and Book (Greg Booker).
Let us know if there’s any former Syracuse player you want to hear from. Shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Stay tuned for Thursday’s Culture Challenge featuring Rob Schneider and…that’s all you need to know, isn’t it?
It’s amazing that we’re less than three months away from baseball season. What’s more amazing is that these caricatures are quickly becoming my self-image. The more I look at them, the more I expect to see a 3’2″ individual with a headset on in the mirror. Also, I think Kevin and I are each wearing Crocs in this Q & A thingy to the left.
Last season, we got to know a gentleman named Adam who hit a pinch-hit grand slam in August. What was his last name again…?
Thanks, child not interested in deceiving Meg Ryan 33 seconds into the video. That name was Fox. Adam Fox. I caught up with Adam by phone from his offseason residence in Pennsylvania recently. I expected that he’d be reveling in a successful deer bagged….
Jason: The number 1 important question is how was hunting season?
Adam Fox: Hunting season was good early on. Then I started working this insurance job and I just didn’t get out in the woods as much as I’d like. I had the opportunity to kill a few nice deer but I elected to pass. All in all, I didn’t get out as much as I wanted to this season which is OK because I had other priorities. Sometimes you have to go to the side to take care of business.
J: How much do you normally get out?
AF: In the offseason with baseball, I’d probably get out four or five times a week. At least I’d get out at least in the evenings or the mornings just for a little bit. I started a job down the road from where I’m from and it was difficult to get back and forth. I was going Fridays and Saturdays as much as I could. I just didn’t have time. It’s crazy to say because you can always make time, but I actually really didn’t have time.
J: What did you bag?
AF: I didn’t kill anything, but like I said I passed on a couple nice ones early in the season because I was after two or three particular bucks that I’d been watching early season before the actual hunting season started. I was scouting them and had some video footage of them early season. Once you do it for so long you kinda get real picky and sometimes that’s your biggest enemy. I should have killed a buck that was right underneath me the third day of the season. I actually mistook it for a different buck. I just filmed it and from that point on I had a curse. Next year’s another year and I’ll probably have to redeeem myself one way or another.
J: How did Adam Fox get into insurance?
AF: Well, a good buddy of mine…his dad owns six agencies across western Pennsylvania and into central Pennsylvania and in 2009 he approached me and asked if I ever wanted to come in and study for a license, do some side stuff. I said “Yeah, I definitely do because baseball’s not going to last forever. I wouldn’t mind using my education towards something and I went in and studied for these tests and took these tests and passed. I started trying to sell a little bit. Last offseason, I didn’t work at all or do anything with it. I just went hunting. I took the time off because I knew I was going to be 30 this year and didn’t know what holds for baseball. I was going to enjoy that offseason and do the things I like to do. This year I went to him and said, “You know I’ve been thinking about it and I’d like to go to State College and start working on it to see if it’s something I like.” I started in mid-October and it’s been going pretty good. I stay really busy and it’s definitely a different challenge.
J: So where do we stand baseball-wise?
AF: Well, it’s tough right now. I’ve sat down and talked with my agent for hours on end about what options are out there and it doesn’t look too promising in terms of finding a job. I’m sure I could get a job to go into spring training seeing if there’s an opportunity, nothing set in stone. But, that’s not what I’m looking for. I’ve started to get into a career a little bit in insurance, so I said “you know what, I’m gonna set my standards a little higher. I want an opportunity kinda like what I had in 2010 with the Nationals. If something happened in the upper levels or in the big leagues, I was gonna have that opportunity if I was doing well then last year I just signed. If something happened I was gonna have a job. It was kinda just hanging on and getting through it and taking advantage of any opportunity that came along. Right now I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna stick to my guns.
J: Any thought of going into coaching?
AF: Yeah, that’s been thrown at me since I started. They said, “One day you’re gonna be a good coach.” For me, I don’t know if I could do it right away. I’d love to. I know I’d do well at it. I know it’s in my blood. I know I have a lot to give back. There’s a period of separation where I’ve been such a competitor playing for so long. I don’t know if I’d enjoy it right away. I might have some resentment towards baseball if I just went into coaching knowing that I should still be playing. If I’m not gonna play this year, just stay away from it for a year and come July or August get my name out there.
J: The most important question I’ve got is what did Brayden [your son] get for Christmas.
AF: Everything. I asked him the other day. We were in Kmart. He was looking at toys. I said to him “Brayden, let me ask you something. If you had every single toy in the world which I think you pretty much already do, what would you do?” He said, “Well dad, I think I’d get sick of ‘em.” He got a scooter. He got one of those leapfrogs. Toys. Baseball stuff. Everything under the sun.
J: So when’s the next Brayden/Adam YouTube video coming out?
AF: What was the last one?
J: Vanilla Ice, I think.
AF: That was a pretty good one. He’s got a few new ones up recently. He’s got a few new dance moves.
J: He’s gonna be an actor, you know.
AF: I know, I feel like we’re wasting his talents by not getting him out there.
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Kevin reviews Pixar on Thursday in the Chiefs Ka-Chow….er….Culture Challenge.
Hi, everyone, and Happy Holidays to all. Hope everyone’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and/or whatever else were filled with joy, glee, and TV shows other than Baseball Wives. The second edition of our Offseason Q&A has us catching up with one of Syracuse’s two All-Stars from last year, infielder Matt Antonelli. Matt enjoyed an excellent 2011, and his offseason’s been a memorable one for a number of reasons. He’s a new member of the Baltimore Orioles on the field, and off of it…well, read ahead and find out for yourself.
I chatted with Matt via phone from his new Massachusetts home on Monday. Here’s what he had to say.
Kevin: Congratulations on your signing with the Orioles. What went into that decision?
Matt: I spoke with a decent amount of teams but probably four were really interested in signing me and were the best fit. I started talking with Baltimore and narrowed it down to two between the Orioles and Indians. I thought they’d both give me a good chance to go to spring training and make the big-league team. The situation was the same, but what swayed me was that Cleveland wanted me to be more of a utility guy, and Baltimore’s giving me more of a chance to play either second or third base. They seemed to really want me and need a guy that can do what I’m able to do.
K: You’re on the 40-man roster, as well – I imagine that helped the decision.
M: Yeah, that helped, too. Cleveland was probably gonna do the same thing. But just from being with the Nationals last year, I know it’s tough to get called up if you’re not on the 40-man.
K: You say you’re going to play mainly second and third with Baltimore, but you played all over the field with the Chiefs. Do you wish you had focused more on those two positions?
M: No, I enjoyed playing all over the place. Basically, I just thought that with Baltimore, they’re moving Mark Reynolds over to first, and Chris Davis to third – I think I fit in a little better at Baltimore with my main two positions. Cleveland was looking for me to play everywhere. But my two main positions are taken by young guys – Jason Kipnis at second and Lonnie Chisenhall at third. My chances of getting to play there were pretty difficult at Cleveland. I probably would have ended up playing more left field and shortstop.
K: What have you learned about the Orioles?
M: I didn’t know a ton. I flew up to Baltimore and got to speak with Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter. They’re a good organization. They’re not happy with the way things have gone down there recently, but after talking to those guys they’re going to start making good moves and rebuilding the farm system. The next few years are going to be a lot better than the last few years. I’ve jumped around now from Washington to Baltimore and I’m hoping I can stay here for a few years. I’m looking forward to being a part of it as they rebuild this thing and start contending.
K: How do you feel about last year now that you have a chance to reflect on it?
M: Going into last year, my main goal was to go some place that was going to let me play and get a lot of at-bats. I knew it was going to be in the minor leagues since I missed the entire season prior to that. There weren’t a lot of teams that were going to give me a chance to play. Teams hadn’t seen me play, they kinda forgot about me. The Nationals gave me a chance to play. Also, I played a bunch of positions, and coming up with the Padres I only played second base. Most teams this offseason were only interested in me as a utility player or third baseman – if I didn’t play for the Nationals, it would have been a limited number of teams that wanted me. I was pretty bad at shortstop, though.
K: Well, you had to follow one of the best defensive shortstops we’ve seen in Chris McConnell.
M: I know. I hadn’t played shortstop since high school, then they sent McConnell to Double-A and I said “oh boy.” I must have made six errors in the first few games, but the Nationals said “hey, keep going out there.”
K: Overall, it had to increase your attractiveness to Baltimore, though.
M: For sure. When Steve Lombardozzi came up I was basically a third baseman, and they liked me as a third baseman. If I didn’t play third base, they might not have even been interested. And if I go to camp and somebody gets injured, now I can go to left field or second base. It gives me more chances to bounce around. If I hadn’t played all over, I’d automatically go to Triple-A if I couldn’t play second base.
K: What else have you done in the offseason?
M: Oh, I got engaged! That happened about a month ago, so that’s good. I’ve been busy helping out with camps and clinics around November. We have a bunch of indoor baseball facilities, and I’m working give days a week doing all that stuff. I also moved so I had to pack up all my stuff and move to a new house, so that was a pain. All I do now is watch football every day and play fantasy football – I live a pretty boring life, as you can see.
K: We’ll get to the football in a second, but tell me about the engagement.
M: I took a little weekend vacation down to New York City, went to Central Park, and got this little boat you can go on and paddle yourself around the water. I asked my girlfriend there and she seemed pretty happy.
K: You were in a Chiefs fantasy football league. How’d that end up?
M: Well, listen to this – I came in first in the regular season, I basically beat up everybody. But this is what happens to me every year, I’m like Peyton Manning before he won that big Super Bowl – every year he was the best quarterback but hadn’t won the big game. I’m not there yet. Every year I get to playoffs in first or second and get knocked out, and this year I lost in the semifinals. Done, see ya. Every year. But you can put in there that Jason didn’t make the playoffs. I told him at the draft he was going to have an ugly season, and he did.
K: Was his team really that bad?
M: Well, it wasn’t that bad. I think he was in fifth or sixth. But he still didn’t make the playoffs. Michael Aubrey won the league – he finished the regular season in fourth, but he had a very good team.
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