I’ve been in the playoffs twice before — when we won the World Series in 2004 and when we lost in the first round the following season. But this is my first time as an everyday player and it’s exciting. It’s a lot of fun going into the playoffs as a starter, and knowing you’re one of the guys who will be relied on heavily.
It’s come full circle now. I got to sit back and watch it. Now it’s time to actually go out there and play. I’m truly excited to just go out there and play and have fun out there, and try to win Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday night.
To me, I think going through it and just watching it a couple of times will help me in the fact that I won’t be as nervous for my first playoff game. Now I just look at it as, I’m playing and it’s just another game. I think when you play every day, you just get used to the grind of playing every day and just going out there and playing.
It’s going to be exciting. I think when game time hits, I’ll definitely be nervous. Every player out there, everyone is going to be nervous. But I get nervous before every game and I get excited to play. There’s always nerves kicking around. It should be fun — a lot of fun.
When I watched the playoffs the other years we were in it, you just learn that every pitch, every at-bat, every play in the field is a big deal. You have to go out there, and whatever has happened in the past, you have to let it go and move on. You can’t do anything about what happened before. You have to play for the moment. For me, I learned a lot about that. It’s all about winning and doing whatever you have to do to get the job done — moving runners over, driving runners in and making smart decisions on the field and on the basepaths.
The Angels are a great team. We can’t take anything lightly in the postseason. The playoffs is when you throw all the stuff out that has occurred in years past and this year, and it doesn’t matter anymore. Anyone can win any day. The fact is, you have to play for each game. You can’t look to the next game or the next pitcher. You have to focus on every pitch and every at-bat that you get.
They’ve got a lot of good pitching. They have good team speed. They play the game pretty well, they know how to run the bases well and they make you make errant throws. I think the biggest thing is trying to slow them down. We need to try to make the game kind of speed up on them a little bit. Not in the sense of running, but just try to speed it up in the fact that they can’t have those opportunities to run.
The key to this series, as with any series, will be pitching. You win championships with pitching. You saw last year with Detroit: it pitched great through the playoffs, but then its pitchers made a lot of errors in the World Series. The Tigers didn’t field the ball well, and that’s what lost them the World Series. Pitching is the key. Your pitchers have to go out there and they have to throw well. Offensively, you have to score runs, but if your pitcher holds them down, that’s the key to winning.
As for me, I was able to get back out there the last week of the season after my wrist injury. I feel good. Once you get your adrenaline going, the pain kind of goes away. For me, I’m not going to think about anything. I’ll just hopefully be full of adrenaline and a lot of excitement.
Obviously, we like starting playoffs with Josh Beckett on the mound. We all feel that he’s deserving of the AL Cy Young Award this year. We’re confident. We feel he’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. He’s been in the postseason before — an MVP of the 2003 World Series for the Marlins — and so we’re excited to have him on the mound. Hopefully, he’ll go out and pitch a great game.
I’ll be back for another post after Game 1, and I’ll be blogging after each playoff game, so keep coming by!
Talk to you later,