You are back at Mississippi State with MSU's Baseball Fan Day going on. What does it mean to you to be back here on such a special occasion?
"It was so easy to play in front of these fans because they love to watch you play. Then coming back here after being away for a year and everybody is still excited to see you. They want to talk to you and have pictures taken with you. They treat you just like you are a member of their family. The fanbase is really supportive of you because they love their Mississippi State Bulldogs, whether it is football, basketball or baseball."
Did you have an idea that it would be so much fun and so special to play in front of the Mississippi State Baseball fanbase when you first signed to play for Mississippi State?
"I had an idea it would and that is why I picked Mississippi State. A buddy of mine, Trey Johnson, had played here. And I knew it would be like this but I didn't know it would wind up being as good as it was. It was above and beyond what I expected."
Now you are playing in the pros where baseball is a business. What has it been like playing in the pros compared to playing at Mississippi State?
"It is a little different because you play every day. Focusing every day is tough because you are playing day-in, day-out and not getting many off-days in seven months. People don't realize how difficult minor league and major league baseball is. How long you play and how many games you play is unreal. The best players are the ones that can focus every day. Focusing is what you have to work on. You want to stick to it and make it to the (major leagues)."
You play most days each week for months at a time. That is a physical grind in itself. Then, you have the additional pressure of performing in a game that is a game of failure. If a hitter has 3 hits in 10 at-bats he is considered a success. But there were 7 at-bats where you didn't get a hit. How much more difficult does that additional mental pressure make it on you?
"It is mental but you can't put pressure on yourself. You just have to stick with the process. You just play baseball, a game that you have played all of your life. You have made it this far, so you may as well continue playing the same way you have been playing up to this point. You wake up and do the same thing day-in and day-out with the hope that you get your mind right to play the game that day."
The main thing that you have going for you is your love of the game. No matter if it is little league, college or the pros you still have that same love for the game, don't you?
"I do. I have always wanted to play baseball and see where it took me. I like the journey that it has taken me on so far. The journey is different than it was when I was at Mississippi State but you have to move on to the next step in the journey."
In addition to the game itself, it also helps you with life in general, doesn't it?
"It does. You go through stages where it gets you out of your comfort zone and then you have to make that comfortable. I think it has been a great experience."
Obviously, Mississippi State fans love their baseball Bulldogs even after they have left Mississippi State. Have you had any special moments where Mississippi State fans have watched you play while playing games in the minor leagues?
"I have. We were at a stadium in Connecticut. Some Mississippi State fans came up to me and Daryl Norris and talked to us, then stayed for the game. Then, we talked to them afterwards and took a picture with them. That was a special moment because they were so excited to see us there and then to get to see us play. Considering how far they were from Mississippi State, it was like they were family. That's just how it is with Mississippi State baseball."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.