“I thought, I want to face the lefty. Then they don’t throw a strike to (Rodriguez). I thought they were going to bring in a lefty, but they stayed with the righty and I said, ‘Wow, they just want to pitch to you. Get a pitch you can hit.’”
On whether this season is better than last season for him:
“I would say no because last year I was more patient in the beginning. You can tell by my average was higher than this time. But, I mean, it’s a good year for me, too. To be able to stay healthy, that’s all that matters to me.”
“I don’t have the kind of walks I had last year. This year I’ve been chasing pitches and swinging at high balls. So, if I was more patient, my average would be higher than it is now.
“This is the situation always. You’ve got to be patient if you want to keep your average over .300. When you don’t have Al in the lineup, or Tex, sometimes they’re not going to pitch to you. … You’ve got to be patient.”
On the winning double:
“Oh, it feels great. I mean, coming to a situation like that my first at bat, I grounded into a double play. I was (ticked) because I want to help Bartolo and the team get on top right away … I hope I get into that situation again and I’m not going to miss that one.”
On the pressure moments:
“Yeah, I love those. Those are the situations where you are going to become a better player, even as a person. The situation where you come up and OK, you’re going to fail over and over, but every time I want to be there.”
On paying attention to the batting average under .300.
“I’m not going to lie to you. It’s right in my face (on the scoreboard). Anyone would pay attention.”
“It was more bothering me because it’s not that I’m swinging at strikes. If I was swinging at strikes, I don’t care (about the average). But chasing pitches, swinging at high fastballs, not able to take more walks … if I swing at a strike and not get a hit, I would be happy because I know I’m making a good swing and swinging at strikes.”
“I talk to my dad all the time and he always says, ‘You’re chasing pitches, swinging at bad pitches, and you’ve got to be more patient, because when you’re swinging at strikes you’ll be able to make some damage.” (That talk took place two months ago, he said).
Can the end of this season make this year better than last year?
“Yeah, why not? I’m healthy. Yeah. I always say the only way you can make a better season is to be in there every day. I’m there every day, so I would say yes.”
On 100 RBI:
“It’s always good. You want to play the game and you want to be there. You want to have 100 RBI. This is my second time and I hope it continues.”
On improvement with runners on base:
“Way better than what I was. This game, the more you play the better you’re going to get. … You’re going to be able to sit and watch guys like Tex and Al and even Big Papi. Those are guys that get 100 RBI every year, how they can be so consistent every year. You watch those guys. They go to the plate, they’re not missing their pitches, so I would say, that’s why you want to be there. You want to be like those guys. I play the game not to just go home and say, ‘Oh, I play in the major leagues.’ I want to play the game and when I retire be one of the best. Why not?”
“The best thing is guys who want to be in a situation like that. And also you never see them (feel) pressure or anything. They just want to be there. If they fail in the first at-bat, they want to be there again. … You’ve got to use your imagination and visualize what you’re going to do in the game. That’s been helping me a lot.”
On whether he really believes that opponents want to pitch to him when they walk the batter before him:
“Well, to be honest with you, if you don’t throw strikes to Al in a situation like that, you had the lefty, so what does that tell you? He got me three times. You don’t throw strikes to Al. … so when they bring in the righty … so I say, ‘Well, they’re going to pitch to me.’
“Every time I see they walk the guy in front of me, that pumps me up and I say, ‘C’mon.’ If you’re hitting behind A-Rod, that’s what you want. … What can I say. When I see they walk him on four pitches, and he was throwing strikes the whole game, I say, ‘Well, there’s something wrong here.’
“I always tell myself, any time they walk a guy … in front of me, that gets me (going) right away. I say, ‘Be ready, they want a piece of you.’”
Associated Press photo.