How has your offseason been?
It's been pretty good. I didn't play anywhere in the fall or the winter. This was really the first time that I've had a full offseason. It's been good to be home for a full six months to recover, get stronger, play some golf and just get away from baseball for a little bit. It's going to help, I'll be fresh this year and ready to go.
You played in the Arizona Fall League last year, where had you played in previous offseasons?
The year before I went to Instructional League. That was the last year I was with the Reds. My first two seasons with the Reds, those two seasons I went to the Instructional League and I think that's kind of how I got traded. In that second Instructional League I played really well against the Orioles and they came up with the trade between the Reds and the Orioles. I think that's how my name got brought up and last year I played in the [Arizona] Fall League.
In that trade between the Orioles and the Reds you were acquired with two other players for catcher Ramon Hernandez, is it strange being the only player still in the Orioles organization from that trade?
Not really, that's baseball. It's a business so people get moved around a lot. When I first got traded I saw it as a good opportunity. I've enjoyed both seasons with the Orioles, and I'm looking forward to a good year this year.
What have you been doing to prepare for the 2011 campaign?
You can always get better at everything. I've been in the weight room. I've had the same trainer the past three offseasons, we do a lot of speed stuff, agility stuff. It's not just straight weight lifting, it's more baseball specific. Movement, and lifting and hitting. I do a lot of hitting, just trying to always get a little bit shorter with my swing. Just staying fresh.
When you look back at the 2010 season, what will stick out in your mind?
Overall I ended up having a decent year. I struggled a couple of times. I didn't start out the way I wanted to start, and I kind of put some pressure on myself to do better and try to do too much. I think about half way through the year I turned it around. It wasn't as good as I hoped, but it was a decent year for a first year in Double-A. There are definitely things to be worked on and I'm looking forward to this season.
You hit .323 with 11 of your 22 home runs in 21 day games last year. Is that an anomaly, or is it easier to hit during the day?
That was something that I picked up on during the year. I was living with Robbie Widlansky at the time, and every time we had a day game I would be talking to him the night before about how excited I was because I knew I was going to do well. For whatever reason, at least this past season, I had a really good game during the day. I guess it has to be something to it, the sunlight or whatever. Maybe I'm a morning person. Maybe we'll have a bunch of day games this coming year.
You and Widlansky were roommates and you had lockers next to each other in the clubhouse. How much time did you spend together during the season?
We were roommates and Robbie is a great guy. He's probably one of my best friends within the organization. We would do a lot of things together, go hang out after the games, and on off days go to the movies or go to the mall. He's just a good guy to be around, he's always positive. He's had a little bit of misfortune in his career, he got hurt last year. The year before he started in extended spring training and then he came to Frederick and had a heck of a year. I've always been a big fan of Robbie's, and I look forward to playing with him again this year.
When you and Widlansky were together in the Carolina League, he won the league batting title and you were named Most Valuable Player. Do you argue about which award is more significant?
No, not really. Robbie's a good dude, and he's always joking around about something. That year he had in Frederick, you couldn't bit a ball any better. He could not hit a ball not on the barrel. Every time he was up there, even when he got out, he was hitting the ball on the barrel.
You are a versatile player capable of playing both infield corner positions and left field, where is your favorite place to play?
I'd say third base. I think there's a lot of value in being able to play a good third base and hit for power. That's definitely where I see myself playing. When I first got drafted, I played shortstop in college until my last year and then I kind of got thrown into the fire at third base my last year. Third was always something new, but I think I've come a long way from my first year in pro ball at third base. I feel real comfortable over there, so I see myself as a third baseman.
Would you prefer to play one position every day, or do you like moving around the diamond?
I don't mind moving around at all. In Frederick was my first experience really playing first base a lot. I enjoyed that, and I think I picked up on it well at first. Last year they moved me to the outfield, and I did pretty well. I think I had one bad game out there. The outfield is a little bit different, you've got to get used to the angles and the way the ball tails and positioning for different types of hitters. I don't mind moving around if that's what the team needs.
Some players have said that they do not enjoy being a designated hitter because they do not feel connected to the game. Do you share that sentiment?
To be honest with you, it's kind of a nice mix-up. Every now and then it's almost kind of nice to get kind of a day off. You're just up there hitting, so you've got four at-bats a game, so you're over there resting and kind of recovering. You're also staying in the game and being ready to go up there and hit and make something happen and help the team win then come back down and rest.
Baysox fans have seen you hit some monstrous home runs at Prince George's Stadium. How many guys have you played with that can match your power?
Well, last year I think we all saw two guys. [Joel] Guzman was unreal, he put on a display in batting practice, and in the games he hit a couple into those trees in left-center field. He's definitely a grown man swinging a bat. Joe Mahoney, he is also a big strong kid and he can also hit the ball a long way.
Do you know the Orioles plan for you this year?
I really haven't heard too much. I would assume that I would be back in Bowie, but I could also see them pushing me to Triple-A and letting me play and see what happens. Either way, as long as I'm playing every day and I'm in the lineup, it doesn't matter.
The Orioles have made some high-profile moves at the Major League level this offseason, how does the acquisition of 3B Mark Reynolds affect you?
The Orioles have to do what the Orioles have to do to win this year. They're not sitting there counting on us minor league guys to contribute this year. It's nice, they want us to develop and make it to the big leagues, but they always have to worry about winning now and bringing the fans in. It does hurt both Josh Bell and my chances of getting up there this year, but I think it's good. We both need to be in the Minor Leagues a little bit longer to work on things and get better so that we can be consistent hitters to play in the big leagues every day.
You mentioned former Baysox third baseman Josh Bell, what is your relationship with Josh like?
He came over in that trade [in July 2009] and then that following offseason we went to the [Arizona] Fall League the same year I went. He's a good guy. We played in that fall league, he's a switch-hitter, he's a good third baseman with a great arm. Other than that, I really haven't hung out with him too much, but I'm looking forward to seeing him develop and become a great baseball player.
You were available to teams in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, were you concerned that you wind up in a new organization?
It's always a possibility, but to get Rule five'd you have to be Major League ready. I'm back with the Orioles this year to have a good season and I'm looking forward to 2011.
What are your goals for the 2011 season?
I think the main thing is like everybody always says, just be consistent. That's really what separates Minor League guys from big league guys is being able to play up to your full potential every day no matter how tired you feel or if you're not swinging the bat well to be able to overcome those slumps quicker. If I can play to the best of my ability this year, I think I can have a year that separates me from other guys.
The Baysox 2010 campaign has come to an end. The Baysox open the 2011 season on the road in Harrisburg Thursday, April 7. They play their first game at Prince George's Stadium Thursday, April 14, at 7:05 p.m. Baysox ticket packages are now available. Click HERE for more information on 2011 ticket packages.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.