Part II. Thanks again to B.B. Abbott for setting this up and carrying it out, and of course to Chipper.
Have the Braves ever approached you about moving to first base? Would you be amenable to such a move? — Many people.
The club has never come to me and asked me to move to 1B. I know there were some rumors out there that insinuated that my renegotiating was somehow conditioned on me staying at 3B. That is absolutely not true. I have always tried to do what I felt was in this team’s best interests. It seems odd that someone would start that rumor given the fact that I have already moved off of 3B once to try to make this team better. On a personal note, I feel as if I am playing very well at 3B right now and I feel very comfortable there.
When fans of other teams (Mets) all start chanting your first name (Larry) does it really motivate you to give something extra just to shut them up, or is this just a coincidence? — Smitty
Oh absolutely. For all of the bad press that Mets’ fans get, they are actually very, very passionate and just love their teams. Hey, you must be doing something right (or wrong, in their case) if you can get that many people to chant your name. Like I said in NYC some time ago, at least I will never forget my name in New York.
Why did you root for the Dodgers instead of the Braves when you were a kid? — Ububba
My dad was from Vero Beach and grew up a huge Dodgers’ fan. Plus, it was easy to love those guys back in the late 70s and early 80s with the great players they had.
I’d like to know what Chipper’s thoughts will be if, after having restructured his contract, this is the team we take to camp. Did he have anybody specific in mind when he agreed to this? — Stu
I think the Renteria trade was a great trade for us now. It might turn out that Andy is a perennial All-Star and makes us never forget that trade. But, in return, we got some immediate help. This guy is a tremendous player. I still feel as if there is at least one move that will be made, and I hope that my gesture has allowed the team the luxury of doing that. If this is the team that we have to go to battle with, then we will. I trust Bobby and John without question.
How do the position players react when a (now departed) relief pitcher blows leads repeatedly? — JC
It’s frustrating, but when you have time to reflect, you realize that no one felt worse than Dan Kolb. The great thing about the game of baseball is that you have to wake up the next day and do it all over again. You get an immediate chance to redeem yourself and begin to forget.
Regarding Dan Kolb’s unfortunate experience, I regard his problem as a mystery. Can Chipper make any observations on what he saw based on his experience? — Edoriver
Wow, that’s a great question that I don’t have an answer for. I can tell you that any competitive sport involves a certain frame of mind that you cannot succeed without. If you are questioning your skill or your ability to do your job, you are not going to have success. A change of environment might be good for Danny. I wish him the best, because we’ve all been there at some point.
How important is plate discipline to your game? Does your patience lead to better pitches to hit, or does your power cause pitchers to walk you, or is it a combination? — JC
My entire approach is centered around what a particular pitcher tried to do with me. You will see me swing early in counts sometimes, and you will see me work counts considerably with some guys. I fortunately have years of history with a lot of pitchers and I take mental notes about how I am handled. If I know that a guy is going to try to get ahead of me quickly, I might look for a mistake early in the count. If I know that I have a guy that is going to try to get me to get myself out, then I might change that approach. Getting on base and driving in runs is my goal. Everything I do is going to be based upon that.
During seasons past, have you made any comments about a specific player’s suitablility for being with the Braves to either BC or JS, and that specific (unnamed) player finally wound up on the Braves team? If yes, do any comments about veteran player go to BC rather than JS? — Edoriver
John and I are in contact throughout each off-season. I think he values my opinion, as we are the guys on-field that see the guys and interact with them. I think John knows that I have a pretty good grasp on the kind of player that will be a good addition to our clubhouse. Bobby drafted me in 1990 and we have been together ever since. That being said, personnel decisions are an effort of John, Bobby and our outstanding scouts. I have such tremendous respect for all of them, and I hope that they think my opinion on suitability has some value.
Does JS ever ask Chipper or (if you know) John Smoltz their opinion about a potential trade or free agent during the off-season? Does JS encourage this type of communication from players or does he only consult BC/other mgt members on this matter? — Edoriver
When Barry Bonds left the Pirates, would Chipper have voted for having him signed by the Braves? — Edoriver
When Barry left the Pirates, I was still in the minors, so I’m not sure I even had a vote then. If I did, I’m pretty certain it was on a piece of paper. But, we all know that Bonds is one of the best players in the world.
(By the way, I’d also like to let Chipper know how much I appreciate his selflessness. I’ve never seen anyone more epitomize “Team Player,” and I’m thankful to have had the privilege of cheering for him these many years. — Stu)
I truly appreciate that comment. It certainly means a lot to me.
Do you approach at bats differently in different situations and how? In other words, for example, do you do anything differently with a runner on third and one out in a tie game late as opposed to no one on, early in the game. Do you change how you swing, what kind of pitch you look for, etc.? — Marc S.
Absolutely. I addressed this somewhat above, but with RISP or on 3B with less than 2 outs, it is simply intensified. It is magnified in that you are looking to do something in particular. If you see me leave a runner on 3B with less than 2 outs, you simply know that I feel like I have not done my job. That is a very, very big deal to me, and it is something that I preach to young hitters.
Which pitcher do you like to face the least and why? Which pitcher do you like to face the most and why? — ASG
Hideo Nomo has always given me the most trouble. I was 0-32 until I finally got a hit off of him. I can’t say that I ever like facing Randy Johnson or a guy throwing ‘ched’ from 60 feet away, but I have had good luck against Randy (don’t ask me how) and those big fastball guys are always fun. Mono y mono.