Yesterday I had a chance to talk with Dodgers infielder Jamey Carroll. Click below to read his preferences in free agency, how he's affected by the Dodgers' ownership situation, and what he was thinking facing Trevor Hoffman in the Rockies' 2007 tiebreaker game against the Padres.
Tim Dierkes: You've played second base, third, shortstop, and the outfield corners...do you have a preference? What position did you play in college?
Jamey Carroll: I grew like everybody else, I played shortstop. I played a lot of short throughout the minor leagues. It wasn't until the last couple of years in the minors that I started to bounce around everywhere and came to an understanding that if I was going to have a shot that was going to be the way, playing everywhere. The more positions I learned the better I was going to be able to get my opportunity and help the team. I think each position has something different, something a little exciting about it. It keeps everything fresh, being able to go out and play something different. It keeps it challenging for me. You get to do something new every day when you bounce around.
Each position has something fun about it. I love turning the double plays from second. I love playing short because it's a position where you have to be in on everything. At third it's a whole different world over there. And when you throw me in the outfield after being so close in the infield I feel so far away. There couldn't be anything more different than playing in the outfield. But I definitely love playing in the middle of the infield because it's really in on the action. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter. As long as you do something to help contribute, that's the bottom line.
TD: The reaction time at third base must be the biggest difference over there.
JC: It's either smoked to you or just chopped like no other, so you're either racing for your life or sprinting for your life. If you're playing third base for a little while and you go back to the middle infield you kind of forget how much your feet have to be in motion. That's why for me it's important to make sure I'm always taking groundballs at short.
TD: You scored the last run in Expos history. How was the relocation experience for you?
JC: It was definitely something different. It was cool to know that I was a part of something like that. I had mixed emotions - I enjoyed Montreal because 1) it's a great city and 2) it's the place where I got my shot, my opportunity. At the same time for years they had been talking about moving out of Montreal. To get some finality to that and know you're going to DC, the nation's capital, and being a part of the first year back there was something special in itself too. It was mixed emotions. You're sad to leave one place but excited to start anew somewhere else. I'm thankful to have been a part of that in my career.
TD: How would you feel about adding the designated hitter to the National League?
JC: I'm old, so I like the NL - that's the type of player I am. At the same time it was fun to play in the AL and it does add that hitter and it does open up another spot for a hitter to have a chance. I grew up watching the NL and played most of my career in the NL. For example last night for us Clayton Kershaw gets a big hit to help himself with the bases loaded in the eighth. It's just kind of exciting and fun to see, but then again seeing the big guys hit some homers is just as exciting. But I like the strategy, double switches and stuff like that, so if I had to choose I'm an NL kind of guy.
TD: What was it like being traded to the Rockies in 2007?
JC: It came at a good time for me. My mom had passed away and I joined a group of guys that were phenomenal for me outside of the game of baseball. I developd a lot of unbelievable friendships with guys on that team. It was something different - I only knew one place, the Expos/Nationals system. I was a little nervous but at the same time I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to get traded to.
TD: You'll be entering free agency coming off a strong year. What factors are most important to you in deciding where to play, if you receive multiple offers?
JC: Obviously I think you want to win. That's the bottom line. I think that's a big factor. I also think it's how you fit in with the team and the organization and where I feel like my family has the best fit. It's not about me anymore. Being in the playoffs once was incredible and I'd love to have that opportunity again.
TD: Do you have a geographic preference?
JC: We couldn't be any further from home than where we are now and we've really enjoyed it. It depends on who wants me, you take those options and go from there and make the best decision out of that.
TD: Tell me what you were thinking during the 2007 tiebreaker game when Todd Helton was intentionally walked and you're coming up against Trevor Hoffman with a chance to send the Rockies to the playoffs.
JC: I was basically a defensive replacement - I wasn't really doing anything at the plate that year and so I'd end up getting pinch-hit for. Just knowing that I was on deck I kind of turned around and looked because I'd been getting pinch-hit for every other time and wasn't sure why this was any different. I kind of turned and looked at the bench and Brad Hawpe, who was up behind me, just looked at me and told me to go up there and get it done. I turned back around and it was almost somehow a little vote of confidence in a sense. I was just going to do anything I could to get him in. I knew how Hoffman approached it. I'm not a first pitch swinger but I knew I was probably going to get a fastball away and tried to take advantage of it. I think I hit it just far enough so Matty could get in there.
TD: Did you think Holliday was safe on the play?
JC: I didn't think it was going to be as close as it was. From where I was, still running down to first, it was the longest few seconds of my life to see Tim McClelland finally call him safe. But he was safe as far as I'm concerned.
TD: How closely do you and your teammates follow Frank McCourt's divorce and the stories about the team's finances?
JC: We've taken the approach that there's nothing we can do about it and it's not our situation. We probably learn more about it when we get asked about it. It shouldn't affect we way we prepare or hit a ball, field a ball, pitch a ball. Obviously we're aware of it but at the same time I really don't believe it has much of an effect on us.