Q&A: Joe McEwing

Mets utilityman Joe McEwing discusses the club's chemistry and confident attitude, and how it applies to his own demeanor and upbringing, in a Premium Q&A (subscribers only):

It seems like every Mets team that you've played on since you came here has been tagged with that 'underdog' type of label. Is that an identity that can work to this team's advantage?

I think there's a lot of confidence. Every team we've had, even though other people tagged us with the underdog mentality, there's always been a lot of confidence in this clubhouse. That's something I felt from day one when I walked in here, and that's something I continue to feel. I think other people just put that label on you, and until you prove them wrong, it's going to continue to be a label.

Is this is the most confident Mets club you've played on?

I'd say this clubhouse probably compares with our 2000 clubhouse. That year, we had great chemistry, and we were going out there, always being in the ballgame, and battling. We were battling to the end. I don't know our record going late in the game or into extra innings in a game [this year], but it feels like we're always in the game, and we're never out of a game.

That scrappy identity is something you can certainly identify with personally as a player. Where do you think that came from?

Within myself, I think it was definitely instilled by my parents. They busted their butts their whole lives and worked very hard to give me and my family what we had. I think that's instilled by them.

What did your parents do?

My dad was a DC mechanic and my mother was a secretary.

Aside from your parents, were there any coaches, managers or teammates along the way who especially helped you to become the player you are today?

I hate to single anyone out, because there's a lot of people who have touched my life through my career. There's a whole list. I've been very fortunate to be surrounded by good people throughout my life and my whole career. I'm very thankful for it.

The blue-collar mentality is something that goes well with a utilityman's attitude; that 'can-do' spirit. Were you always a guy who wanted to play as many positions as possible?

I want to play. I just want to play. I play this game to compete and to win, and that's all I want to do, compete, win and be part of the puzzle in any possible way to win. George Kissel was a baseball guru with the Cardinals, and he said, 'The more tools you have in the toolbox, the better.' And I never forgot that. The more things I can do to possibly keep me on the field, that's what I'm going to do.

When did you begin to add more tools to your toolbox?

I'd say it was with the Cardinals. I got drafted [in 1992] as a shortstop, and when I went away, I never played shortstop. I played center field. Then they moved me to second base in 1994 [in Class-A] and I played half a year there before I went back to the outfield. Then, in 1998, I basically started moving around when I got to the big leagues.

You've played for three managers in the Major Leagues – Tony LaRussa, Bobby Valentine and Art Howe. How does Art compare to the other two?

Each one has a different personality. As you come across people, everyone in this game has a different personality, and you try to take something from each one and learn from each one.

In my book, they're all winners and they're all quality people. You try to learn from every single one of them, respect every single one, and just continue to be the best player you can be by learning from each one of them.


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