Interview: Josh Holden

Imagine Josh Holden, a 2003 West Point grad, slapping hands with Ken Griffey Jr. in the outfield this season or talking in the dugout with Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker. Holden, the first Army athlete to be allowed to play pro sports under the Department of the Army's alternative service policy, expects to start the season with the Double-A Chattanooga (Tenn.) Lookouts of the Southern League.

That's just two levels below the majors. Holden, an outfielder, batted .251 (55-for-217) last season for the Sarasota Reds of the Single-A Florida State League.

He added two doubles, four triples, 15 stolen bases and 17 RBI. Holden, still making adjustments to pro ball, is looking forward to his third full season in the Reds' organization. Not only that, he thinks 2008 could be a breakout year for him. Good luck, Josh, and thanks for making the Army Nation proud. Holden spoke to from Sarasota, Fla. this week.

What are your goals for the season?

JH: Just to have a good year statistically. At this point, I'm ready to break out. Baseball is one of those funny games, one adjustment, one kind of thing, can turn the light bulb on. There are a lot of guys who come through the ranks and the start off kind of slow. They figured things out and exploded. That's what I'm hoping for this year.

What are some of the things you think you figured out?

JH: It's just learning how to prepare and how to pace yourself during the course of a long season. You can't get too high or low, I mean, it's 142 games. If you go 0-for-4, you just have to shrug it off. That's just the nature of the game. You have to trust that you have the ability to succeed and trust your instincts.

Were you happy with your performance last season?

JH: The first half of the year was real tough because (outfielder) Jay Bruce (the Reds' top prospect) was playing on the same team as me. We had a few other high draft picks. I actually went like 20 games in a row where I didn't even play. That was a real humbling experience, but I know that's the way the game goes. I just waited for my opportunity and when I got it, I feel like I produced pretty well.

Did that experience make your more hungrier?

JH: Being in the Army and going to West Point certainly teaches you perseverance. You know you are going to have good days and bad days, but the good days are going to outnumber the bad days. You just have to wake up, try your best and there will always be the next day.

Is it true that Reds' manager Dusty Baker called you in the offseason to wish you well?

JH: Yeah, he did. He's good friends with (Army athletic director) Kevin Anderson. Dusty Baker is a real nice guy, he's very personable. I have a lot of respect for the things he has accomplished and the type of man he is.

What did Baker talk to you about?

JH: He was with his son, he was picking up a new bike for him. We talking about some players we both knew. We just talked about life. What I was doing at the time. He said to come up to him and say hi to him during spring training. I haven't had the chance to do that yet, but I want to poke my head in his office.

You have to be happy starting at Double-A, two levels below the majors.

JH: This game is crazy. You look at this way, if you are at Double-A, you are eight guys away from being in the big leagues. It's just one of those things where you have to keep things in perspective. Things happen here and there and you're doing well, you can get the call. You always have a chance.

Where would you like to be at the season?

JH: Like I said, man, I'm not that far away from the big leagues. The only thing you can control is what you do on the field. The other stuff you can't control, so there is no reason to worry about it. Top Stories