Silva was on a team in 2006 with the Twins that was 14 games back at the All-Star break and on the last day of the season, made the playoffs. I saw the Twins do it a couple years ago when they caught Detroit and played that extra game and ended up beating them. I saw the Phillies come back from seven games out with 17 games to go and they caught the Mets. Lou’s done it. They were 14 games out and wanted to dismantle the Yankees and they ended up winning the World Series.
When you have a good team, you can’t count that team out at all. You see how everybody and every team has been playing us — they play us tough. There’s a reason. They know how good we are. We have to start believing that and get back to that feeling of knowing how good we are and having that swagger on the field. A 9 1/2-game lead, 8 1/2-game lead, 10-game lead can turn around quick. I believe we can get that down within five games by the All-Star break, we’ll be where we need to be. The second half, like everyone says, it’s 0-0 again.
It’s different facing the West teams now and when I was with the Rangers. It’s different when you face a team 19 times because they figure you out, then you figure them out and it goes back and forth. It seems like they keep a steady rotation and you’re facing guys over and over again and you pick up on things as a hitter. It’s the same thing with the Angels and Mariners. It’s a division that keeps getting better and better. The AL East is the beast, they’ll always be No. 1. The Central with the Twins and Tigers will be tough. I believe a champion will come out of the West very soon. It looks like the Rangers are doing a good job and they’re not far behind the A’s with the young leadership over there. There’s guys like Mark Ellis, and I call Kurt Suzuki a veteran — it seems like he’s been around for 10 years. They’re just a tough team and it’s shown in the games we’ve played against them.
It’s different facing the West now since I’ve been facing National League pitching. In my mind, sometimes I have to get back to that American League style. For example, Gio Gonzalez has a great fastball but on 2-0, he threw me a changeup. I’ve been getting fastballs on 2-0. It’s a little different and you have to change your mindset. I’ll be happy when we finish these games and I get back to National League style.
Everyone’s heard the names. Juan Gonzalez. Pudge Rodriguez. Rafael Palmeiro. Alex Rodriguez. Michael Young. Then you turn the page to Gary Matthews Jr., Mark DeRosa, Marlon Byrd, Nelson Cruz. One thing all those guys has in common is they’ve worked with Rudy and they have positive things to say.
With Gary Matthews and Nelson Cruz, we’re all big league players but we struggled in the big leagues. Opening Day, we were sitting at home. Gary Matthews went through that with me. Nelson Cruz went through that same thing, getting designated. Sticking with Rudy’s program, him believing in us, us believing in him, working hard every single day, getting in a routine, we got better. Hands down, he’s the best hitting coach in baseball and everybody knows that.
I also had to talk to Rudy and remind him that in 2007 when I came to Texas, the Rangers were a team nobody talked about. The energy wasn’t there. It was a team that just hit. It took a couple years to change the culture. You saw how they won in 2009 and you see how they are now in 2010 — full of energy. Everybody over there is doing their jobs.
I told Rudy coming over here, implementing your system, it doesn’t happen right away. That’s what the fans and everybody watching the Cubs has to understand. It doesn’t happen right away. Me working with him, it’s my fourth year. I know how to work with him and he knows how to work with me. He’s still learning everybody’s swing and he’s still trying to figure out how to work with different players and personalities. It doesn’t sound good to say it but 2011 is going to be a better year as far as this whole Cubs organization knowing his system. We are going to get better as we go through this year.