This week I did an interview with Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
1. Why did you decide to go to college instead of going to the Diamondbacks when they drafted you in 2000 and 2001?
At the time I felt like I wasn't ready for minor league baseball, I had to make that decision and live with it. I also thought that going to college would make me a more rounded baseball player.
2. What was the key to your high school success, when you won 2 state titles and hit over .500 in your senior year?
I think the key to my high school success was the players that played around me for those 4 years. The likes of Scott Haristion, Brian Anderson, Chris Duncan, Shelly Duncan, and Ryan Schroyer. We were a very dominate high school team and we all knew what we where capable of doing. As far as hitting .500, honestly I think that happened because I was trying to win every game I played and that was just the result.
3. What was the key to making it all the way to double-AA during your first full pro season in 2004?
The key was playing well in low A. I worked really hard that off season to be prepared to make a jump like that because I believed I could do it.
4. What was it like for you to transfer from shortstop to second base in 2005 with the Redhawks?
It was tough on the ego at first. But really the toughest part of the switch was the double play, starting the turn and making the turn. I had some great people around me to help me with that transition.
5. Were you excited when you were named to the AAA All-Star team in 2005 or would you rather have had the time off?
Of course I was excited. I had to miss the All-Star game the previous year in A ball because of the move to AA, so that gave me a little more reason to be excited to attend that All-Star game and see what it was all about. The best part was the home run derby.
6. What is the Arizona Fall League like? Are there many fans? What’s the overall experience like?
There aren't many fans in the fall league, but that isn't what it is about. It is about having the honor to play with the best prospects in the game at the time. I loved my experience.
7. What was the recovery process for your injured thumb last year and how frustrating was it to get injured so early in your rookie year?
The process was a lot of ice and more ice on top of the ice. It was a cold month and a couple of weeks. On the other hand I learned a lot, like how to come back from an injury and be successful and to be patient with the process of being injured.
8. How different is winning the Rangers Rookie of the Year award (2006) than winning the Rangers Minor League Player of the Year award (2004)?
I think that one is a minor league award and the other is a major league award. I was excited to receive both awards.
9. What are the three toughest pitchers you’ve faced and why?
The toughest pitchers that I have faced are Mike Mussina, Johan Santana, and Jose Contreras. The reason is because of their off speed pitches - top notch.
10. How exciting was it to win a championship in AA in 2004?
That team was the best I have been on. We all loved to play together and we had a good mix of vets and young players. That season was a lot of fun.
11. Is there any specific thing you’ve been working on in the off-season, and if so, what is it?
I have been working on the strength in my legs. I thought that was a weakness that I had to attack. It should help my speed and my quickness.
12. In your first pro season in 2003 at Spokane, you struggled at first (.239 in July). What adjustments did you make to hit .298 the rest of the season?
I think it was a little adjustment to the wood bat and also an adjustment to play the game everyday. I was lucky I adjusted that fast.
13. Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?
Jason Botts because I have gotten to know him really well. We understand each other. I have also lived with him for 3 years. Dane Bubbela, I don't know if you remember him, he won the batting title in Spokane in 03. The other has to be Michael Young. I have only played with him for one year but I see a lot of myself in him as a ball player and a person.
14. What’s been the best game so far of your professional career and why?
The first game I came back after injury. We came back from a 7 to 1 deficit and won a game against Oakland with a Phil Nevin walk off home run. The two home runs that I hit that night also helped my decision.
15. What is the biggest adjustment you had to make when you started facing major-league pitchers?
Not too many adjustments for me. I think the biggest and most important is to be patient at the plate and realize that I am in charge of the situation. I choose what I swing at, not the pitcher.
16. What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?
The sport I played growing up was soccer. That was also my best sport besides baseball. I was all state my senior year. I really enjoyed that sport, and still do.
17. What was your favorite team growing up and why?
The New York Mets, my father is from New York and loved the Yankees. Everyone knows how New Yorkers are - they need adversity at all times. When he moved to Arizona he didn't have any so he decided to make some by making me a Mets fan. Try to figure that one out.
I would like to thank Ian for giving such great answers and for being really nice about doing this interview.
Come back next week for an analysis of the AL East and NL West.