With a fast start under his belt at Triple-A, Hoffpauir is hoping to rejoin the Chicago team in the not too distant future.
How special was it this spring when you got the call telling you that you were going to Big League camp?
It was a very welcome surprise. I was sitting at home about a day before all players had to report and Oneri Fleita called. He asked if I could get out to Spring Training, and how long it would take me to get there. I told him that I wasn't ready; that physically and mentally I was ready, but that all of my stuff was packed up and ready to go. He told me that they needed me in big league camp, so I told him in that case, I could be ready to go tomorrow. He got a kick out of that. I got my stuff together as quickly as possible and got out there. I got to swing the bat a little and had a good time.
What was it like just being on the same field as guys like Soriano, Lee, etc.?
It was a lot of fun to be around the caliber of players that are walking around that clubhouse. You don't see guys that can play like that every day. I learned a lot of things by being around them and I think it's paid off in the long run. It was very meaningful and Lou Piniella was a very nice guy. You know what to expect from him.
You always seem to be the type that doesn't change much from year to year. Have you done anything differently this season?
Not that much has really changed. Everything I'm trying to do this year is just have fun, enjoy myself, and enjoy playing the game. I'm just letting things happen as they happen. Power-wise, I haven't done anything (different) this season so far. I'm having a great time. The guys in the clubhouse are great to be around. We have some good pitching, and some guys in the lineup that I feel are guys you can't pitch around because there's not a hole in the lineup.
You're at first base again this season. How many reps did you get in the outfield this spring?
I played a little bit of left and right field. Buddy Bailey, as well as Lou in Big League camp, did a good job of moving guys around and giving guys chances to play different positions. If you look at our lineup, (third baseman by default) Scott Moore has started many games in left field. He's actually a very good left fielder and he made a few plays the other night. Being able to move around a lot during Spring Training really helps a lot and Buddy has done a really good job of that.
Speaking of Buddy, what has it been like playing for him after two years under Mike Quade?
You always have differences in managers and the ways guys go about them. To me, they both have their absolutely great qualities and they both have qualities that you may or may not like. I didn't get to play with Buddy a lot during Spring Training, so it's still early for me. So far, he's been good. I really like him and I liked Mike a lot. He was a great manager, too, and they both know the game really well. Buddy is one of those guys that is really concentrated on what you need to do to get to the next level. He's got his head on his shoulders and has been in the game for a long time. You can't go wrong with either Buddy or Mike.
Has Buddy had you working on anything in particular this season?
Not really. I go through a pretty simple routine. The infielders are always taking groundballs from him. We as infielders work a lot together on the field before the game. Buddy definitely knows the game and that's something that pays huge dividends, especially with the group of guys that we have. We have some older guys, but for the most part we have some pretty young individuals on the field. To me, it's really crucial for those guys to be around somebody that really knows the game and teaches the game and plays the game the right way.
Now that you've gotten almost a full Spring Training in Big League camp under your belt, and with the way you're hitting now, do you feel this is your year to get to Chicago and stick around for a while?
I sure hope so. The only thing I can really control is what I do. What they do after that and how they decide to go on with whether or not I play here or go to the big leagues is totally out of my control. Obviously, I definitely hope it is this year. If not, it's just one of those things where you still go out and play hard. We'll see what happens. If I do get that chance, I'm definitely, definitely going to make the most of it.