First off, I’m at the three-week mark, so I get to start running today. I’ll be running around on the field Monday so I’m progressing just like I want to and healing. Week No. 3, start running; Week No. 4, ramp it up a little bit and more activities on the field. Week No. 5, go out for a rehab assignment. Right now, I’m on pace.
Today I started shagging a little bit harder to find out how my legs feel. I’ve been long tossing for a week now so my arm’s still there. The strength is still there. I’ve been in the weight room every single day. I’ll go in there three times during the game and I’m hitting during the game, too. I’ve been working hard. I have to make sure when I go on the rehab assignment, I’m not DH’ing. I want to go in center field and start running around and play nine innings. Everything’s going positive as far as my healing.
With the team, it’s been a tough road trip, tough teams. We haven’t played the way we wanted to play — everybody knows that. It seems like all aspects of the game aren’t there at the same time — pitching, hitting, defense, timely hitting. We have to figure out a way to get Oswalt today and go back home with a win under our belt. It’d be positive on the plane ride home. Hopefully, we’ll get some home cooking and try to straighten this thing out.
It’s not too late. I told some of the older guys if we can decrease this thing by six, seven games going into the All-Star break, and be five, six games out, we still have a chance. We’re not focusing on trying to get a 15-game winning streak but trying to win a series at a time. Hopefully, nobody takes off in the Central.
It seems like it doesn’t get easier. The Brewers are winning, they’re hot. They’re not playing at home, which is a good thing but that won’t make it any easier. Just the Yankees being the Yankees, they’re professionals, they’re expected to win and they’re going to come in and do their thing. We have to get our focus. We know we can play any team.
First off, I have to comment on the job Jim Hendry did. He didn’t have much money this offseason. He needed pieces to fix this team. We needed a first baseman, we needed left-handed thump in the lineup, we needed a veteran reliever on the back end with experience and we needed another starting pitcher. He didn’t just fill those, he went and got a Gold Glover and the best first baseman in the American League East who knows how to win in Carlos Pena. Then, he went and got Matt Garza, who is a horse. He’s not missing any starts. He’s a monster on the mound with great stuff and he’s going to give you 15-plus wins. Then he went and got Kerry Wood — that’s icing on the cake. Of course, Woody helped us out, he wanted to come back home. Nobody can blame him. This is home for him and this is where he needs to be. Jim did an unbelievable job. He didn’t just bring guys in, he brought guys in who can do the job and help us get to the playoffs and hopefully get to the World Series.
It’s exciting. On the first day, I overheard Woody talk to Cashner about throwing cutters on both sides of the plate and talking to Samardzija about that. That experience, that trust factor. Me and Carlos Pena, going back with Rudy. That trust factor is already there. Garza just fit in there. He brings that intensity, he brings that fire, something that this team needs, something the city of Chicago loves to see, loves to watch. I don’t think it gets any better than that.
One person you can’t leave out who everyone forgets about is Reed Johnson. Bringing back Reed — he’ll help in the clubhouse, help on the field. He’s not just a presence in the clubhouse, he’s a presence on the field. He’s a career .282 hitter, kills a lefty, can hit righties, can play anywhere in the outfield. He’s a veteran presence. We came up in ’99 together and played together in the big leagues. This is our ninth year. He was at St. Catharines with the Blue Jays and I was at Class A Batavia with the Phillies.
The guys we have — there’s not excitement on MLB Network, there’s not excitement on Baseball Tonight. That excitement is Greinke and Marcum with the Brewers and Berkman going to St. Louis and the Reds signing extensions to the young guys who are going to turn into big dogs. We’re going to fly under the radar and keep that excitement bottled up and once April 1 comes, we’re going to explode.