Thanks for all the great comments and questions. I’m diving right in to answer all the ones I can.
How I made the transition to the outfield and what’s my favorite part about playing outfield:
I had never played outfield at all until I was with Tampa Bay and they needed me to switch in ’06. I had always played the infield, but I thought, ‘How hard could it be?’ I gave it a shot in spring training and played there all season. The biggest adjustment is you have to do a lot more running, so you have be in better cardiovascular shape than if you’re playing first base.
My favorite part about playing outfield is you have a lot more interaction with the fans. You can have a lot of fun messing with them, especially on the road. My favorite fans to mess with are – who else? – Dodger fans.
On whether the loud cheering when I’m up to bat interferes with my concentration:
Late in a game when the crowd’s really into it and you’ve got the adrenaline pumping a little more than usual, you can caught up in all that and get too aggressive at the plate. You have to step out, take a deep breath and just remind yourself to relax. But believe me, you hear the crow. Any guy who says he can block it out completely is lying to you.
Whether I like batting third or fourth in the lineup:
If I had to choose, I’d have to say third because you’re going to get to hit in the first inning.
On joking about being “sneaky-ripped”:
When I was with Baltimore, Kevin Millar and I would joke about which one of us had the worst body. I played DH and first base, so I was chunkier then. Last off-season, knowing I was coming to San Francisco and the National League, I lost 15, 20 pounds with a personal trainer three times a week and cardio on my own twice a week. And I changed the way I eat. I used to eat all kinds of crap. Now I’m really careful about what I put into my body. So I joke about my sneaky-ripped body mostly to let Kevin Millar over there at MLB Network know I’m no longer as fat as he is.
What I think of San Francisco weather:
I’m a Texas boy who played for years in Tampa. I’m a warm-weather guy. So to be really honest, the weather here sucks. Day games are gorgeous. You can’t find a better place to play baseball than a day game here. You wish you could play all day games at home. But night games are tough. It’s freezing. But it’s definitely home field advantage for us because a lot of teams come in here and hate it. We get kind of used to it but it’s still pretty chilly out there.
What my expectations were when I signed with Giants:
I’ve got to be honest. I knew the dimensions of the field here – which means I knew this is where the long ball comes to die. And with the down year I had last year, I didn’t know what to expect. Yet I found myself in the first month of the season swinging for the fences. I’d swing so hard, I’d jam myself up. So I stopped trying to hit home runs. Sure enough, I started hitting them. I just starting taking a nice, easy swing and letting the pitcher provide the power. It’s amazing that no matter how long you play ball, you still have to keep relearning the same lessons. If you just put the head of the bat out there and let the pitcher supply all the power, you’re going to hit it a long way. I always have high expectations for myself every season, but I never put a number on it. But the truth is I’m a little bit over what I thought I’d be.
Why the Giants seem to have so much energy in the dugout compared to other teams:
I think that happens when you’re winning. When you’re winning, it’s a lot easier for people to have fun. I’ve never been a part of something this fun. I was always in the other dugout with my head down waiting for the nine innings to be over. It also helps that everybody is just so free-spirited here. Brian Wilson’s a rock star out there. Tim Lincecum looks like he plays for the Beatles. There’s a good mix of veteran guys and young guys. I think that’s what you want to have. This staff is awesome, too. I’ve never seen a better staff in my life.
If I still throw a knuckleball between innings:
I’d do that on the last throw when I was playing the infield. But I’m an outfielder now, and it takes a bit more of a toll on the arm, I so I quit.
What the attitude of the Giants is like:
We show up every day knowing we have a good chance to win.
How I get pumped up before the game:
At around 6:15 before a night game, I put the headphones on to old-school metal rock like Metallica and ride the bike for about 10 minutes. Then I do one lift with each muscle group. Then it’s go out there and see the ball, hit the ball.
Wow, you people have a lot of questions . . .
Got to put the headphones on and head for the bike . . .