Pretty similar to last year, hopefully. Just back up. Back up first and third, left and right. Whatever they need.
With an outfield that is older, and corner infielders with ongoing injuries, do you expect you'll get more time out there this year?
You just never know what is going to happen. You just stay ready. You take your ground balls at every position and fly balls in the outfield and take it as it comes.
Have they given you any indication where you might see more time?
No. You've got legitimate starters at every position, potential Gold Glove winners and all that good stuff. So, you just hang out and see what plays out.
Given that you're so valuable, backing up four positions, do you think the team will try to find another John Mabry?
Well, I don't know. I don't get paid to make those decisions. I just come out and try to get my work and take what comes.
Counting all three times, how many years have you been with the Cardinals?
A little time in '94, then '95, '96, '97, '98, a little bit of time in 2001 and then, last year.
Are you hoping to stay with this organization for the rest of your career?
I just take it as it comes. I never look past anything too far ahead. With this game, you never know what's going to happen. So, you just keep all your options open. Try not to burn any bridges and keep on playing.
Obviously, it's worked out for you pretty well so far, given its your third stint with the Cardinals…
Yeah. You just hope people like what you do and take you back. This kind of role, the more versatile you are, the more valuable you are to the team. So, you keep on doing what they ask and hope you can stick around for a long time.
You're signed for this season only?
You've always been a fan favorite in St. Louis. Do you feel that the fans have embraced you even more since you returned this time?
They were good to me the whole time; the first time I was there, the second time I was there and last year. The people in St. Louis just appreciate the game of baseball. I remember '95 when we were losing 100 games and they were still coming out for us. And, last year, we won 105 games and they came out for us. It's one of those things where they have knowledge of the game and understand the game and appreciate how it's played.
I have to get to the question that is most on everybody's minds right now. How is your elbow?
Good, good, good.
Do you think there will be any lingering effects?
I hope not. Hope not. Just take care of it. I came out of the game, mostly precautionary. We've got enough bodies to cover it. Don't want to get hurt. This early in the spring, there is plenty of time to get my work done and all that stuff. It is feeling good and coming along.
Was it caused on a check swing?
It was a full swing.
Had you ever experienced that sensation before?
I had it before I had surgery to remove my ulnar nerve. I used to get it all the time, but in recent years I haven't had it.
When was that surgery?
Did you set any goals for yourself for this season?
Make the team, #1. And then, after that, contribute. Just do my job. Pull my part. Be a part of the team just like I was last year.
Last question. Anything to say to the fans?
I appreciate them coming out. I appreciate playing for them. And thanks!
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.