Hello Fish Bytes bloggers. This is Manny Navarro and I'm making my Marlins debut.
Just wanted to share a Q&A I had with former Marlin Gary Sheffield before tonight's game against the Mets. Sheffield, 40, is trying to put together one good final season with New York after being released by the Tigers after hitting .178 in Grapefruit League play. Sheffield is the centerpiece for my Sunday baseball debut. But before the story comes out this weekend, I wanted to share what Sheffield shared with me and another local reporter before the game.
Q: Your back, close to home with a new team. It has to be an exciting weekend for you?
A: I got 41 family members coming up. It is exciting, especially being here where I won my World Series. It was a great, great situation for me here and just to be able to come back is special for me.
Q: Talk about the opportunity to play with the Mets after what happened with Detroit
A: I feel great. I'm going out early every day. I put in my work, got prepared to just DH with the Tigers. I put on a lot of weight just to stay strong. Now, circumstances changed. I have to be ready to play in the field if I want to play. So, I have to drop some pounds and get my wind up under me.
Q: You look like you were working really hard before the game. What are you doing?
A: I go in the cage and hit 50 straight curve balls. Then I go and catch flyballs. Then I do conditioning, running and core training.
Q: The fact this team wanted you, there is still people who believe you can hit the ball, bring a lot to the clubhouse. What do you feel you can bring?
A: Over the years I got a lot of knowledge from playing this game. I've been in the toughest situations. I've played in New York before. Anytime you play in New York, everything else is easy. I achieved that. I went into Detroit. Unfortunately, I got hurt. I was having a monster season and unfortunately I fell on my elbow and separated my shoulder, tore my labrum. I tried to get through it. But it wasn't a wise thing to come back early from.
Q: Did you go in the other clubhouse today?
A: I went over there to get a haircut. I went with one my familiar guys -- Hugo. He remembers how to cut my hair.
Q: Remember what it was like smoking that World Series cigar here in '97?
A: It was great to be a part of something like that, something you built and watched grow and that management talked about manifested into what we thought it would. Unfortunately, we had to break it up and not have an opportunity to repeat. Those are things you remember most.
Q: What do you remember about your experience here, when you first got here?
A: At that time I just came off winning a batting title and trying to have a bigger season than that. They unloaded the team for financial reasons and brought me over. It was just one of those things where everything was coming 100 miles per hour. I was young. I got called in right away and told we're going to win here in five years, be patient with the losing. I was warned at the beginning. I was prepared for what was at stake. When somebody tells you, you're going to lose for awhile, it's hard to take as a ballplayer. You don't want to lose at anything. Even though we didn't have the horses, in our minds we felt if we played with the right kind of desire, we could overcome anything.
Q: How wild was it to see what the Rays did in your hometown of Tampa last year?
A: It was wild. My son had the mohawk going too. The city was -- I'd never seen it like that except for when the Buccaneers won a championship. It was kind of the same atmosphere. The management has done a great job over there. They brough in B.J. [Upton] and [Evan] Longoria. The nucleus they're working with is strong.
Q: Could you play in a pinch hitter type role?
A: I came here with the understanding of being prepared for that. I know I'm not the marquee guy anymore. I just have to play my role and do it the best that I can.
Q: What's it like spending the entire off season with 499 home runs? Does it drive you crazy?
A: No. It's nothing really to talk about unless somebody brings it up to me. I've achieved everything I've wanted to in this game. I never thought I would be able to achieve all my dreams -- to play for the Mets one day and that happened to come true. It just so happens I'm knocking on the door at 500. I never thought this would happen. I was always seeking Fred McGriff numbers. I always felt like if I could be where Fred McGriff was at numbers wise, I'd be a pretty good player and that was my biggest thing.
Q: How much more do you want to do?
A: It's about winning championships for me. Personal goals, I've achieved that. I have to find other things to motivate me. When it comes to my personal things, just living out this dream was my last one. I got the experience, I got to wear this unifrom and now it's just a matter of winning a World Series. It's always been about winning a World Series. This is what it's all about now.