On my Florida excursion I've been interviewing a handful of guys in each home clubhouse. While most of them won't make it up here, that's mainly due to me asking uninteresting questions. If an interview hasn't worked so far it has been almost always my fault for not having pressing questions or following up correctly. It's been a learning process but I feel like I've improved leaps and bounds over the past week.
This morning I was in the Red Sox clubhouse doing my very best not to be a homer and everything went well. I had a long and wide ranging conversation with Mike Lowell that touched on a number of subjects besides baseball. Unfortunately my voice recorder was messing up so I just have some hand scribbled notes. Although in some way that may have contributed to the casual ease of the conversation. It was definitely the highlight of this whole thing for me so far. Jason Varitek said he couldn't talk today but he could tomorrow, then he took his shirt off. That was a little uncomfortable.
But the conversation I've deemed best suited to be the next Walkoff Walk Interview was with Rocco Baldelli. This is only partly because it will make me look cool to Lloyd. I interrupted him doing a crossword puzzle.
Kris Liakos: So I'm sure this is the first question everyone always asks you. How are you feeling?
Rocco Baldelli: Yes that is the first question everyone asks me. I was joking last week that I'm going to make a sign that says "Feeling Good" and put it on my locker.
KL: I saw that. Let's make it and put it up now.
RB: Haha. No, but I am feeling pretty good. Tito has been great with me. We talk everyday. DH some days, play the outfield some days. Just be ready for everyday.
KL: It already looks like Drew won't be coming out of camp 100%, that may open a spot right away in the outfield. Are you ready to go immediately when camp ends?
RB: I think ultimately everyone wants to see JD out there as much as possible. We know we what he can do. I'm going to try and bank on that for now and hopefully just be ready to do whatever I have to do. Left, Right, Center, DH one or two days... I'll be happy doing whatever.
KL: So I'm a New England guy, like yourself. I have to try and be impartial when I'm doing this kind of stuff. And you obviously coming up in the Tampa organization, did you ever have one eye on the Red Sox just to see what they were doing? Was there a part of you that remained a fan?
RB: Well I grew up about an hour from Boston, but I always busy playing the game. I was never a big fan of any team. Obviously the Red Sox were close to my house so I'd go see them but I never felt a huge attraction to Boston as a fan. I always looked at it more from the other side, as a player.
KL: So you had that outlook as a player even from early on. Interesting.
KL: You have a better perspective on this than maybe some other guys, do you think (The AL East) is the best division in baseball?
RB: Well, as a player it's tough to say. I wanna say yes.
KL: I guess I shouldn't say "best" I should say "toughest." Do you think this is the toughest division in baseball?
RB: Well yeah, last year we had 4 teams that were playoff caliber teams. 4 teams that if the right scenario happened could have been World Series caliber. So you take 4 teams like that and you have them play each other 19 times a year, you beat up on each other. But there's no use complaining about it. I learned that a long time ago in Tampa. We weren't very good and we'd get beat up on by this division. It made it difficult, but that's the reality. Complaining isn't the way to go about it. You just grit your teeth and deal with it.