Q & A with Michael Garciaparra

InsidethePark.com recently caught up with the Mariners' 2001 first-round draft pick, Michael Garciaparra, a physically-gifted shortstop with a bright future. The soon to be 21-year-old answered our questions about living up to his last name, overcoming adversity and much more. Check out all of what Nomar's little brother had to say in this InsidethePark exclusive.

INSIDETHEPARK.COM: What was the difference between Michael Garciaparra early last season and the guy we saw at the end of the season? You really stepped up your game both defensively and offensively.

MICHAEL GARCIAPARRA: I don't know what the difference was exactly but I know as I played I learned a lot and tried to correct some of the mistakes I was making earlier on. I also had to get use to the climate change as that was also a shock to me when I first started playing in the Midwest. I'd seen snow only once or twice my whole life. But something just kind of clicked about half way through and I figured out some things at the plate and on the field. I may have been trying to do to much and that can take a player out of his game so I tried to take every at bat one at a time and not try to do to much.

ITP: What' s the best and worst part about being a professional baseball player? Was playing baseball something you always wanted to do growing up?

MG: The best part is an easy answer. I get to wake up every day and not have to go to a class or to an office and work a 9 to 5. I get to get up late and drive to the ballpark and play a game I've been playing since I was 4-years-old. The worse is also easy... The 10+ hour bus rides.

ITP: What's your favorite play in baseball, and why? Hitting a homer? Diving in for a triple. Throwing someone out deep in the hole? Turning two?

MG: I would say turning two. That play next to the home run is one of the most exciting plays in baseball. It involves so many people and can make or break a game on that one play.

ITP: Being a No. 1 draft pick by the Mariners had to put enough pressure on you entering the professional ranks, but you have the distinct honor of being Nomar Garciaparra's younger brother on top of that. Have you felt the pressure, and how difficult has it been on you to perform under it?

MG: Of course there is going to be pressure from being a high pick and because of who my brother is, but I don't really think of it that way. Where I feel the most pressure from is mostly from myself. I, like many other athletes, am my worst critic and expect a lot more out of myself then maybe anyone else does. So there is pressure from those two things but performing for myself outweighs the both of them.

ITP: How much of an influence has Nomar had on you both in baseball and outside of the sport? How often are you in touch during the season, and does he ever offer advice about anything?

MG: He has had a big influence on me both in baseball and in my life. He's been there before so I have the luxury of picking his brain asking about situations on and off that the field. We talk a couple times during the week, not always about baseball, but just like to keep in touch in general. He has always been there ever since I was young to give me advice about anything and is still there for me to this day, which I appreciate a lot.

ITP: How similar of baseball players are you and Nomar? What are the differences and similarities?

MG: I don't know how similar we our as players because I can't see what other people see. But I do know that there are little things we both do alike for the simple fact we had the same coach our whole lives, our father. We both were taught to leave everything we have on the field.

ITP: What are your main goals for this season? Any changes from last year?

MG: My main goal this year is to try and carry over how my season ended last year and get better from there. I need to, like many other players, just try to improve at every aspect of my game to become a good all-around player not a one dimensional player. I need to work on staying positive since this is one of the most negative games in the world. If I can do that hopefully the rest will take care of itself.

ITP: Do you have any rituals at the plate like your brother, and if so what are they?

MG: Yes, and it's the most noticable one. I do a toe-tap just like him when I get into the batter's box. Some people say I just do it to copy him but the truth behind it is I can't remember not doing the toe-tap. I probably copied him when I was younger (like most little brothers do with their older brothers) but I honestly can't remember when. I have always toe-tapped at the plate and on the field when I'm at short. I also jump over the baseline, which Nomar does as well, but I got that from my team in high school. There are other things we probably both do that I don't know about yet. We don't really call the superstitions or rituals, we call them routines.

Michael Garciaparra is heading into this third professional season and will likely start the year at High-A Inland Empire. He'll turn 21 on April, 2.

Click here to read more on Michael:
Prospect Files: Michael Garciaparra

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