First Words

Getting on base means a chance to gab, gossip and get advice
June 11, 2006

Sean Casey,Pirates (beside Ken Griffey Jr.)
Guys will say something about somebody in the stands, or they'll ask,"Where's a good place to eat?" or "Anything going on in town?"but usually it's more about the game. My rule of thumb is if a guy is gettingready to steal, I don't say much to him. My rookie year, [then Cubs outfielder]Henry Rodriguez was on first. We were in the middle of a conversation, heturned to reply to me, and Ron Villone picked him off. I was like, "Oh,boy. Sorry about that."

Kevin Millar,Orioles (left, with the Red Sox, next to Derek Jeter last year)
Some guys aren't chatty. They're like, When we cross the [foul] line, we don'ttalk. But I talk to everyone. Most of the conversations are "Where do youtravel to next? Blah, blah." As a rookie I was 0 for 24, and when [formerPadre] Tony Gwynn got to first, I asked, "How do you get out of aslump?" He went into this whole ball of wax about hitting, saying he likesto sit off-speed because it slows your front side. It was awesome talkinghitting with the best hitter in the league. [He] made sense; most of the timewhen you struggle, it's the breaking ball that gives you problems. I don'tremember if it was my next at bat or later that series, but I got a hit.

Jason Giambi,Yankees (below, next to David Ortiz)
When guys get on, the conversation is almost like a phone call to catch up:"How you doing? Anything good going on tonight? Where's a good place tohang out?" Sometimes you're telling about stuff that went on in theclubhouse, and you've got to get your glove in front of your mouth because youdon't want everybody to see you laughing. When I played for the A's, you'dalways hear about who Derek [Jeter] was supposedly dating. When he got on base,I'd ask him, "Are you really dating so and so?" But Derek was prettysly. It was fun when [former Yankee] Paul O'Neill got on. He would be so p----doff when he made an out. If he got on from an error, I'd just listen to him.He'd be ready to hang himself. Or if someone made a great play on him theinning before, I'd egg him on and say, "That was a great play [thedefensive player] made" and he'd be like, Yeah, f--- you.

Lyle Overbay,Blue Jays
The best part is you get to talk to different types of hitters. In my rookieyear with Arizona, I was struggling and [then Twins first baseman] DougMientkiewicz said to me, "Hey, man, if I can hit up here, you can too."Earlier this year when I was struggling, Manny [Ramirez] gave me good advice. Iwas pulling off--my front shoulder and my hips were flying out. He just said,"Relax. You've got a good swing. Just stay through the ball." You'regoing to take the advice that Manny gives. I was honored he noticed anythingabout me. He's a student of the game, and he's watching all the players.... Ifa guy has a bad at bat, say he grounds out and we don't get the other end ofthe double play, I'll keep quiet. I don't want to p--- him off any more.

PHOTOAL BEHRMAN/AP (CASEY) PHOTOBRAD MANGIN/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (GIAMBI) PHOTOJIM MCISAAC/GETTY IMAGES (GIAMBI AND ORTIZ) PHOTOJAY GULA/WIREIMAGE.COM (OVERBAY) PHOTONICK WASS/GETTY IMAGES (MILLAR) PHOTOANTHONY J. CAUSI/ICON SMI (MILLAR AND JETER)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)