I hope this hasn't been already posted but I didn't see it so I thought I would do it... Delete if it has...
Jeff Keppinger Q&A
posted: Sunday, August 26, 2007 | Feedback | Print Entry
Jeff Keppinger has played a lot of baseball and waited for the kind of chance he's getting now with Cincinnati, and he's thriving, hitting .373. We e-mailed him questions, and he e-mailed answers:
1. You see second basemen and shortstops trying to deke baserunner leading from second base all the time, pounding their gloves, jab-stepping. How effective do you think this is? What has been the best way, for you, to make a runner nervous?
JK: That's a good question. I think it depends on the baserunner. If the baserunner is really trying to steal third it's effective because you just want to let him know that you are there and you are behind him. But, on a slow guy who is not going anywhere I don't think he's even thinking about it because he knows no matter how good a pitcher's pick-off move is, he can get back safely. For some guys, there is nothing that you can do to make him nervous. Some guys are really comfortable out there leading off of second base and they know that specific pitchers don't like to try to pick them off second base. You can try to make a few noises like patting your glove or kicking dirt, and sometimes a baserunner might flinch and step back and that's all a pitcher needs. Of course, some runners don't care at all and say "I'm just going anyways."
2. What is the toughest play for a second baseman to make?
JK: I'd probably say turning the double play on a chopper to the left side of the infield, just because you don't know where the runner is coming at you and he can blindside you and take you out. It's a play that you can get hurt on pretty easily if you aren't very good at turning the double play. The idea there is to get your team in the dugout as quick as possible and get your pitcher out of a jam.
3. You're off to a great start with the Reds. What has been important for you, in how you're performing?
JK: It's all about playing time. Coming off the bench it's hard to get in a groove and feel comfortable. I was swinging the bat well in Triple-A and they called me up because the shortstop at the time in Cincinnati [Alex Gonzalez] had to leave the team for some family issues. It was an unfortunate way to get the call-up, but you have to take your opportunities in this league anyway that you can. I was able to slide right in and play on an everyday basis.
4. Who was the team you rooted for as a kid, and who was your favorite player?
JK: Believe it or not it was the Reds. My grandparents are from Covington, Ohio, and were big fans of the Reds. My grandfather used to watch all of their games and I grew up in Hollywood, Fla., without a baseball team. So the Reds it was. I loved Pete Rose. He was on base all of the time. I think what makes it so special now is that I think playing for the Reds makes my grandfather happy. I'm pretty sure that my grandfather is really excited.
5. What was your best moment in the big leagues?
JK: Probably my first game. Once Pete Rose got done playing I'd have to say that Barry Bonds was my next favorite player, and I got called up at the time we were playing San Francisco. I had never seen Barry play in person and I was able to see him play, which was a thrill, even though he kicked our butts. I think in three games he had eight hits and a home run. It was a memorable moment watching him play in person. I always wanted to see him in a home run in person, and I certainly did.
6. How often do you change your glove? What do you look for in a glove?
JK: I'd like a glove that had a magnet in it, that's for sure! I don't really look for anything particular in a glove and I don't restring my gloves. I kind of like my gloves to be a little firmer and I really like the Rawlings glove that I use now. Some guys like their gloves to be real flimsy, but I don't like that because sometimes I can't find the ball in my glove when I have to be quick on turning a double play. If a ball happens to hit the side of my glove and the glove is firm, I find the ball easier in the pocket. As far as a time period, I just use mine until it gets too flimsy. When the time comes to use a new one I just start by warming up with a new glove, playing catch with it and then take some ground balls with it. That way, when the first one is done I can just move right into my newer glove.
7. What was the best at-bat you had in your professional career?
JK: I'd say it would have to be my first base hit in the Majors, against the Giants in San Francisco. It was off Jim Brower. I hit a ground ball through the 6 hole and all of the sudden I was on first base with a base hit. I just remember walking up to the batter's box and thinking to myself: wow, there are a whole lot of people here in the stands.
8. What was the luckiest hit you ever got?
JK: Once again, I'd have to say it was my first hit in the Majors. The Giants were in the playoff hunt at the time and it was late in the season so the place was packed, and it was really loud. I was really nervous, and I just absolutely did not want to strike out. I couldn't really focus on anything and just kept telling myself 'hit the ball, hit the ball.' Luckily, I made contact and was able to knock one past the left side of the infield for a base hit.
9. How early do you like to get to the park, and why?
JK: I like to get there really early because I like to eat at the park. When I wake up, I don't like to sit around and wait to get to the field. I'll get to the ballpark around 1:30 or 1:45 each day. Usually I'll just wake up, throw some clothes on, and go to the park early. Then again, I heard the Marlins didn't have to get to the park until 5 p.m. this week and they won.
10. In your perfect world, where is the place you love to bat the most in the lineup, and why?
JK: It would be great to bat in the 3-hole because ideally that's your best hitter, but it's great to hit in the 2-hole in this league because you see a lot of hittable pitches. You basically have the best hitters in the big leagues batting right behind you so the pitchers like to go right after the 2-hole-hitter.