Q&A: Craig Brazell

Mets first baseman Craig Brazell, one of the club's September callups, joined NYFansOnly.com for an exclusive Q&A discussing his season, situation with the Mets and the tough year of close friend Jeff Duncan:

This is the opportunity you've been waiting for your whole life. Now that you're finally here, how does it compare to what you thought life in the majors would be?

It's definitely a great feeling just to be here. I mean, that's the whole part of it, is getting the experience of the major leagues and seeing what it's all about, and to really see how good these guys up here are. The way they carry themselves. The way they play the game. It's definitely what I expected – the best of the best are here, and it's a great feeling, no doubt about that. I'm just trying to have fun with it.

Do you sense a difference between the speed of the game at Triple-A and up here?

A little bit. Definitely, everybody makes the routine plays, and they make the great plays. There's a little bit of difference from what I'm used to. The pitchers are definitely right around the plate the whole time and they've got a little bit better stuff, better command. It's just a game of adjustments.

As far as you adjusting, do you feel a little more comfortable as each day goes by?

Yeah, it does. The more I come around, and the guys have been nice to me up here. It's just a good adjustment, but over time I'll just learn it and hopefully be able to stick here for a long time.

You probably could have warranted a call-up last season around this time, but the team went with Mike Glavine instead. Were you disappointed by that decision?

A little bit. I understand the organization thinking that it wasn't the right time yet, and you have to go with what they were thinking. I just regrouped and started thinking about playing well in spring training the next year, so it [played] a big part.

Can you even project what kind of role you might have with the Mets in 2005?

I have no idea. It's just kind of waiting and seeing what happens this offseason and coming in next year ready to play in spring training, and hopefully competing for a spot.

Do you feel like you're in a strange situation, because what the Mets decide to do with the Mike Piazza experiment directly affects your progress?

Yeah, but in a way I can't really let it affect me too much, because then it'll knock me off my game. I just kind of have to sit back and fall into place and let the chips fall where they may, and just control what I can do.

What would you say the best part of your game is?

Definitely the offense. I've always been a hitter, and it's something that I always want to continue to get better on. I don't want to be just a good hitter, I want to be a great hitter. That's the biggest thing.

Do you feel like you've developed into a capable major league first baseman?

Definitely. My defense has got a lot better over the years, and it's taken me a long time to learn how to play first base. It's definitely a work in progress. I feel like I'm good at what I do, but I can get better. There's always room for improvement.

What have you found as the most difficult part of playing first base?

It's not the picks or anything, it's the fact that the ball gets hit at you real hard over there. You're staring in at lefties, you're in on every play, so it gets real tough down there at times. Once you learn it and get used to it, it becomes second nature over there. It's not an easy position, but it's not a real hard position either.

You're good friends with Jeff Duncan, who missed most of the last six weeks of the year with an injury. Have you spoken with Jeff about his tough season?

I talked to him [Friday]. He's at home doing whatever around. He had a tough year, but he's a good ballplayer and he'll bounce back. He's a real good friend of mine and he's a real good baseball player, and he's too good to stay down for long. He'll come back.

Do you think that the Mets may have rushed him here last season, and that it could have hurt him in the long run?

I don't know. I mean, Jeff's a good ballplayer and I think he could handle it. People just go through spurts where they're a little off at times. But he'll definitely come back, there's no doubt about that.

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