9/7 Passing the torch
In Spring Training 2002, I had lunch with Doug Glanville right after one of our practices. People who don’t know, Doug played in Chicago, but he was the center fielder in Philly before I was there. He took me to lunch. I didn’t know what he wanted to talk about. We sat down, and the first thing he said was, “It’s inevitable.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It’s inevitable. You’re going to come and take my job and I will go somewhere else. My job right now is to make sure, as much as possible, that you’re ready to come to the big leagues.”
He said, you’re the young guy. What happens in baseball, he explained, is the young guy comes up and take the older guy’s job, and the older guy goes somewhere else to play. Then, someone comes up and takes center field from you. It’s the cycle of baseball. It’s just the way things go in life.
I had the chance to do that in Texas. I did that with Julio Borbon. I wish I had another year with him to make sure he was fine, but at the same time, he was ready. I have a similar chance to do that here with Brett. You don’t know how long until he’s ready. I don’t know long I’m going to be here. That word “inevitable” — it’s going to happen. He’s a great talent out there, five tools, very explosive. But at the same time, you can’t come up here and dominate at the big leagues. You have to have that baseball I.Q., and I think it’s important for veterans like me to pass the torch and make sure whoever comes in behind me is 100 percent ready.
I’ll take him out to lunch. At the end of 2009, every road trip, Julio and I went to lunch. We sat and talked. Andruw Jones, too. We’d sit and have conversations. It’s one of those things where I don’t have to look over my shoulder because I know there’s always somebody coming.
That’s the way it works. When Brett’s ready, I’ll move on. That’s just the nature of the game and I accept that and I understand that. I want him when he comes up to go through all the good times and know everything negative that I’ve gone through in baseball — being outrighted, being designated — I don’t want him to have to go through that. I want him to come here ready.