When you are on the field, all you think about is playing hard, doing your best and trying to win. That is the main focus. But I know in this game there is more to it. This time of year, the season is almost over, and people are now being voted on for awards.
For me, it is an honor to be a candidate for the Clemente Award and the Aaron Award. Those are two of the biggest names ever to play the game. The Clemente Award is for what you do on and off the field. The Aaron Award is for the top hitter. Both men are legends.
As someone from the Dominican Republic, the name Clemente is very special.
To be considered for his award is one of the best honors of my career and my life. He was a hero on the field and off the field.
Sometimes, it’s hard to explain my feelings because he did so much. Everybody remembers him for what he did in the game as a player. Off the field, he did even more. He is very special because he was so interested in helping people. You mention that name, and for a player like me, there is a lot of motivation to do your part.
Off the field, I do charitable work, much of it with the Florida Marlins Community Foundation.
I do my things and I don’t get a lot of attention for it. But it makes me feel good in my heart. I love kids. Whenever you see somebody wearing your jersey, not just kids, but anybody, it makes you feel good. Those people love this game, and when you come to the ballpark, you want to play the game hard for everybody — your teammates and the fans.
When you’re a little kid, you just want to play baseball. You don’t always think about the players who were great before you. But you always knew about the big names like Clemente. He was an example. I grew up knowing what he did, and knowing that he was very special.
When things are going good, you don’t try to think too much about what you’re doing. Right now, I don’t think about the batting title. The focus is on winning, and going to the playoffs. That’s what is most important.
To be a good hitter, it takes a lot of adjustments and a lot of work. This year, I’ve done better with my preparation. Before games, it’s very important to be focused, at the plate and in the field.
You need to have a lot of consistency. You’ve got to be mentally prepared to play the game. My preparation has been really good before the game. That’s what matters. Your preparation has to be really good.
As a team, this has been a pretty good month. The team had a hit streak. We went like 15 games with 10 hits [or more]. I know that hadn’t happened in a long, long time. (St. Louis Browns of 1937 were last to have that many).
What’s good is we’re doing the little things, as a team. It’s not just one guy. Everybody is doing his part, and what he’s supposed to do.
Me, I made an adjustment this season with runners in scoring position. In Spring Training, I talked with Albert Pujols, and he told me some things that I’ve been working on with runners in scoring position. I don’t want to say what they were, but the talk helped.
Right now, we have to keep fighting to make the playoffs. I don’t think about my numbers, or what I’m hitting. I don’t need to do that. If I wanted to play for myself I would just have my own team.
Like I’ve said for a while, when we play as a team, we do a lot better. This is not tennis. Not one individual. We are playing together as a team. That’s when you win, when everybody is chipping in. I am happy to see that we are playing better defensively. Fredi and all the staff, they’ve been working with us. They’ve been working hard with us, and we are going to stay focused on it. We went into Spring Training wanting to get better on defense, and we’re getting better and better. People ask what I’m doing better on defense. I’m using my feet better. It’s about positioning. We’ve been working, and we’re going to keep working at it.
Being voted into the All-Star Game, I want to thank the fans and everybody. I’m really, really happy. What can I say? It’s an honor. From my heart, I want to thank all the fans, and the players. This is something that motivates you to get better. A lot of players from other teams have shown me respect. That’s something you have to appreciate. I’m also really happy for Josh Johnson. He deserves it, and I’m happy for him. I have somebody I can talk too. When you have so many stars there, it’s difficult to talk to all of them. When you have somebody on your team, we can look forward to having fun. When I went to the All-Star Game last year, that was a lot of fun. You get to know a lot of stars in this game. Guys who have been around a long time. Guys whou have been around 10, 11 years. They teach you when you are on the bench. You learn from them. For J.J., I hope it’s the first of many trips there. He’s a tremendous pitcher. The guys in the All-Star Game are guys who respect the game. That’s the way you should be. When they take the field, they take it like it’s their last game. You are here playing to win games and go to the World Series. Those guys showed me that.
People ask me what I’m doing different this year with runners in scoring position. I’m being more patient right now. Last year, I think I was swinging at everything they threw me. I was too aggressive.
Now, I’m taking whatever they’re giving me, then trying to have a good swing. If they pitch me away, I will hit it the other way. The other day [Tuesday against the Nationals Craig Stammen] he made a good pitch, down-and-away. I was able to hit the ball the other way for a home run. He made a good pitch, too. I had a good swing, and the ball went out to the opposite field. You can only control what you can control. I was able to do my job.
My hitting has been a lot of hard work. I’ve been working with Jim Presley [hitting coach], Hawk [Andre Dawson] and Tony Perez. I’ve been more patient. I’m hitting the ball all over the place. Whatever it takes. I’ve been taking whatever they’re giving me.
I’m really happy with what we’ve been doing as a team. But there is a long way to go. A long way to go.
Hello, and welcome to my blog. I want to thank the fans for supporting me through my first few years in the big leagues. You have been great to me. I look to play hard every day and try to help my team win. Right now, the team is playing good. We have a chance to play in October. If we stay focused and stay together, we can stay in the race. I think the second half can be exciting.
In my blog, fans can ask me questions, and I will try to answer them.