June 2007

On to the halfway point

Natebig

Not sure where to begin other than, from a personal note, getting back in there, I’m feeling pretty good about things and going through the process of being on the DL and all I had to do, evaluating everything on and off the field. It was a good period. It was tough, but it was a good time to get a little peace of mind. Looks like it worked out pretty good. The results were good last start. More importantly, where we are as a team, what we’ve done as a team to this point, dealing with all the adversity, it’s funny.

This year, it doesn’t feel like things have come easy, and yet we’re still in a really good position as a team to make a run at this. I think it’s easy right now to focus on a lot of what’s negative just because the expectations are high, obviously, and it seemed like it was going so much smoother last year. But if you focus on what we’ve dealt with to this point, guys on and off the DL, key players on and off the DL all year long, our early-season slump at the plate, guys have just picked it up and been world-beaters now. Certain guys weren’t performing like we know we can, and then picking that part back up. This is a good club, bottom line, and that’s where the focus needs to be is that this is a good club. Stay positive and think about the good things, because you know, through all that we’ve been through, we’re still right there in first place and I think in a good situation to make a run at this thing.

The no-hitter, obviously, there’s been constant reminders around here. We’ve had encores on TV and stuff, but that’s something that you can’t forget, ust sitting over there and watching it and not knowing what to do. I mean, people think the pitcher’s out there and he’s nervous, and the fans think they’re nervous. We’re not playing, especially the pitchers sitting over there, and you can’t really fathom what we’re going through.

One thing people are asking questions about what we do on side over there during that. You don’t talk a whole lot about it. You just let the guy do his routine, stay out of his way and don’t mention what’s going on. We all know what’s going on. You don’t have to say it. And that’s just the superstition of it. Especially with a no-hitter going on, just let it play out. It just kind of seemed like it was a night, as it went on, it was just going to be a magical night. Fun to watch, and I’m as proud as heck of him. That’s a heck of an accomplishment.

Moving on, we have the All-Star break coming up and the first half coming to an end. It’s really been quite a ride, actually. It’s probably been more of a ride this year than it was last year for everybody. We come to the park and we know we’re a good team. We know about the expectations, obviously, for this team, but as long as we get the job done, it’s like: Would you rather lose pretty or win ugly? Winning games is what we’re trying to do here. It’s good fun to see some of these guys take off, especially offensively. We’ve had a couple pitchers that have been lights-out as well. It’ll be fun to see how many guys get on that All-Star club. Obviously Magglio and Gary and Curtis and Guillen and Polanco and the way Sean’s been hitting over the last two months, and Ingy and Pudge. It’s just like on and on and on here. You’ve got players who’ve just been playing really, really good baseball in all facets.

And then from the pitching staff, obviously, J.V. is coming into form, just being the kind of pitcher that everybody thought he could be. And Bondo’s unbeaten streak, that was pretty amazing. I don’t care how it got there. The guy’s obviously got to pitch well and good things have to happen. That was awesome, fun to watch. Getting Kenny back and watching Miller up here a year removed from college and having the success that he’s had, and having guys step up like Durbin in the many roles that he’s had. The guy’s come in and been a sparkplug for our whole staff, starting, relieving and being so versatile and having a great attitude.

It’s a good group to be around, and we’ll get everything right. Think about how scary that can be if we make everything click on all cylinders. We’re doing the kind of things like Tuesday night, where we turned the game over from the seventh inning on with a 3-1 lead. We won a lot of ballgames like that last year, and we will win a lot of games like that this year as well. These guys, we’re all going to get right. It’s too good of a team. We’ve been there. It’s just about going out there with the confidence and obviously with the health. We believe in each other. It’s been fun so far and we hope this ride continues.

One more note: The fans, with me, have been so positive and supportive throughout the time away. And I really appreciate it. I read several entries in there believing, and that was really pretty awesome.