I have to say I've gotten used to playing right field but third base holds a special place in my heart. Honestly, I'll play wherever the team needs me.
Mark, I would like to thank you for signing a couple of cards for me through the mail. I was wondering about how many requests you get a week and if you're planning on continuing to sign this season?
I get quite a bit of fan mail and try to open it about once a month. I try to sign as many that come in, as possible. I get quite a few, so I try to get them back to everyone in a timely fashion.
How do you think the team will do this year?
I think the team should do a lot better than the past few years. I think the win total depends on how a lot of our young players develop and settle into the big leagues. The talent is definitely there.
What city do you most enjoy traveling to during the season and why?
I enjoy playing in Anaheim because it is close to my hometown. Yucaipa is my hometown and it is great to see my family while I'm there. I'm pretty sure the whole town shuts down while I'm in Anaheim!
Mark, where do you train in the offseason and what is a typical day like for you?
I spent most of the offseason in Kansas City this year but I also spent some time in Tampa, Fla., at a training camp to get in shape.
An average day consists of me waking up a 8:30 a.m., having a hearty meal, then some speed and conditioning training, lunch, followed by a lot of hitting, throwing, fielding etc., and then ending the day with weight lifting and a health-conscious dinner.
What have you been up to this offseason?
This offseason I've been keeping busy working out at the gym, taking in all that KC has to offer and learning how to dress in the snow.
I've also been dedicating a lot of time to my charity event which is coming up this Thursday, Jan 17. The event is a fashion show with all of the proceeds benefitting the YMCA Challenger Baseball Program. The Challenger Program gives kids with physical and mental disabilities the opportunity to play sports they may not otherwise get the opportunity to play.
The event will take place at the Overland Park Convention Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. If anyone is interested in attending, please contact Michelle Ford of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City at (816) 360-3304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you like most about being a professional baseball player?
I like just playing the game. I know how fortunate I am to be playing in the big leagues. I come from a family where most of the members dreamed of one day playing in the big leagues, so I love fulfilling that dream for everyone in my family.
Going into Spring Training, how do you feel about the additions that Dayton Moore has made to the team?
I think Jose Guillen is definitely going to add a little pop to the middle of the lineup. I think Dayton did a good job of filling the spots in our bullpen that need to be filled. Dayton has a good feel for what our team needs and I like how in every offseason he does what we need to take steps in the right direction.
What is it that excites you most about the new manager, Trey Hillman?
Trey already has shown a commitment to getting to know each player individually and I think his strength will be knowing how to manage each player individually. As a result, he will run the club successfully.
Since this an online chat ... do you spend much time on the Internet?
Yeah, I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet checking up on my St. Mary's Gales and all the new and hippest trends.
The Royals Caravan comes to Omaha next Tuesday. What was your favorite moment in Omaha?
It is a great city but my best moment, of course, was getting called up to Kansas City.
What are your goals for 2008?
My goals for 2008 are to continue improving as an all-around player, to get more comfortable in right field or whatever position I am needed and to return to driving the ball a little bit more like I did in '06.
I wanted to let everyone know that I'm sitting here with Lenny DiNardo of the Oakland Athletics, just in case anyone has any questions for him.
Ketchup, mustard, or relish?
I prefer ketchup on my hot dog but my pick for the hot dog race this year is relish.
Do you have a favorite play you have made since being a member of the Royals?
My favorite play might have been throwing out A.J. Pierzynski at second base last season. I had to run hard to the left, pivot and throw to second. I got him by just inches.
How much are tickets for the fashion show on Thursday and who are some of the players appearing?
Tickets are $150 which all goes straight to charity. Players attending include Gil Meche, Billy Butler, David DeJesus, Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke, Mark Grudzielanek, Tony Pena, Jr., Joey Gathright, Ryan Shealy, Esteban German and of course, yours truly!
Mark, which rookie do you think has the most raw talent on your team?
I think Alex Gordon has the most raw talent. He really has all five tools. He runs well, hits well, hits for power, is a good defender and has a strong arm. If he settles into this league he will turn into a great Major League ballplayer.
Which Royals do you hang out with a lot?
I'm fortunate because there are a lot of great guys on the team. I regularly hang out with Ryan Shealy, John Buck and David DeJesus, if I had to name a few. I hang out with Mark Grudzielanek when he lets me and with Alex Gordon when he is not in the gym. My buddy Billy Butler is never far away either.
What spot in the batting order do you feel the most comfortable hitting?
I feel comfortable hitting in the three hole because that is where I've been at for the past three years. I like being in the middle of the lineup and in the middle of the action.
Who is the hardest pitcher you have faced and who do you think is the best hitter in the game?
The toughest guy I've faced is C.C. Sabathia. Fortunately, we play them a lot so eventually I'll get his number. The best hitter in the game has got to be Alex Rodriguez. He just can do a lot of things that other guys in the game just can't do.
Lenny, are you working on adding any new pitches to your repertoire?
Lenny says he's working on something to get Gathright out because he couldn't get him out last year. He's spending a lot of time perfecting the guitar as well.
Have you driven by The K lately? What do you think about the renovations?
I have driven by the K lately and I'm excited about the renovations, but there isn't a whole lot to look at quite yet.
It seems to be coming along well, though.
Hello, Mark. Thanks for taking time to do this. How are you feeling this year as opposed to the same time last year?
I'm feeling quite a bit better as far as upper body strength. It was nice to have a full offseason where I actually felt healthy and could train the way I wanted to train. The progress as a team last year as well as the additions we made in the offseason has me excited to get this season started.
I have time for one more question.
Will you be signing autographs at the FanFest?
Yes, I'll definitely be signing autographs at FanFest as well as on Caravan in Nebraska. I enjoy meeting the fans that cheer us on throughout the season. I hope to see you all there.
Thank you for joining me today. I realize I was not able to answer everyone's question, but I look forward to answering further questions during FanFest and Caravan. I also hope to see some of you there to support the Challenger Program on Thursday.
I'm looking forward to getting the season underway and reviving the new blue tradition! Thanks again.