After the Red Sox’ well-documented attempts to kick him out of the band—attempts that may very well still be evolving behind the scenes–the guy could have shown up at Spring Training as a certified douchecanoe*, sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with “Will play third base for food,” taking a whiz in Adrian Beltre’s locker, or answering every media question with, “Why don’t you go ask Turkey Tits Epstein?”
Instead, he got all loquacious and introspective, sitting down for a stream-of-consciousness media session that had him riffing on everything from spelunking to figure skating.
It’s all good stuff—the type of stuff, in fact, I’ll miss if the guy gets sent packing before opening day. Here are just some of the highlights:
“I think my hip is about 10 times stronger than it was last year. I think I was able to use the offseason to strengthen and get flexibility and range of motion and maintain it. I’m pretty optimistic. Dicey? Dicey as your articles want to be, I guess.”
“I’m very comfortable in where I am in my real life. I feel like I’m in a tremendously privileged situation. Nobody needs to feel sorry for me in life.”
On whether he regrets not signing with the Phillies after the 2007 season: “No, no. I might have signed with Philadelphia and gone on a spelunking trip and gotten hurt and that’s against our contracts, so they might have voided the last three years. You never know. They have great caves in Philly so, no, I don’t.”
“I’m pretty set that all things were going to come to an end sooner or later. I don’t think I was going to play forever. I really haven’t stopped to think about how I feel. I’m actually excited. It might seem awkward baseball-wise but I actually enjoy being on the field. I like seeing all the guys I haven’t seen. I had dinner with Pedroia and Jacoby yesterday. I like that aspect of it. I’m excited to hit on the field and play in games. The competition drives me. Have I enjoyed Boston? Of course I’ve enjoyed Boston.”
“I think my numbers were pretty respectable last year, and I think I was capable of playing in more games, and I feel better than I did last year. So I don’t see any reason why, if I had the at-bats, where I could have the ability to put up those numbers, I don’t see any reason why my numbers shouldn’t be better than last year. Which I think basically coincides with what I’ve done. Take away ‘07, which was a great year, and take away ‘05, which was a bad year. Isn’t that what they do in figure skating? Kill the high, kill the low, and count your average? That’s what you get. My triple lutz. I do the blades of steel. Blades of glory? Blades of glory.”
“I love the fans. Part of my e-mails are, ‘check out the comments on this article,’ and I tell my wife to check it out, and she says, ‘You know how many people are really on your side in all this?’ I think they’ll be more emotional if Adrian Beltre starts off slow, and they’ll be much less emotional if Adrian Beltre starts off hot. That’s kind of the way it goes. In ‘06, I can’t imagine too many people were that excited about me playing third. And then as the season went on, it worked out great, we got a pitcher like Beckett and a guy who can play third every day. Things can change really quickly, but I don’t want to discount the fact that I feel I’ve had tremendous support. And I think the fans appreciate the way I played the last four years in Boston. I think they appreciate someone who comes to play every day, and I think I showed I would play hurt, maybe to the detriment of their eyes, because that blur coming across the screen running the bases was not me. But that’s a very flattering thing, to be honest with you, when the fans feel like there’s an injustice being put on you. That’s a good feeling, when you have the fans on your side, absolutely.”
Honestly, we’d expect nothing less from Mikey, who’s been a stand-up guy since he got here as the sidecar to the Josh Beckett deal. And while we wish him the best whatever the 2010 season brings (unless he goes back to the Yanks, of course), it wouldn’t surprise me if management kept him around as lumber insurance in case a certain DH starts slow out of the gate.
*I can’t claim ownership of this word, which I first caught on one of the great Kay Hanley‘s tweets.