Baxter vows to have a complete year

Sluggish starts have hounded San Diego Padres prospect Mike Baxter over the last few years. He dedicated this off-season to working on something that he hopes will get him off to a torrid start in 2008 – balance.

A trip to China – how was that experience?

Mike Baxter: It was great. It was a good experience to check out all of their sites and see the Great Wall. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am glad we are home. I definitely enjoyed it.

Did it mess with the rhythm of your swing going out there? We have talked in the past about you getting off to some slow starts and this was the year we started hot and finished strong. You get days off on both sides.

Mike Baxter: It definitely messes with you on both sides to get there and come back. But, when you think about the chance to go there, it is still something in hindsight I would do again.

I still had a solid two weeks to get going again and back in minor league camp I got a lot more reps to get ready for the season.

We spoke in the past about the slow starts and one thing you mentioned was changing it up a bit so you could get out of the gate strong. How did you do it?

Mike Baxter: I kind of focused on what I wanted to do consistently. Like we talked last year in Lake Elsinore – keep my weight more balanced this year.

I think the reason it might take a while to get in a groove is because I might be unbalanced off on my front side a little bit. The goal this off-season was to negate that and keep the balance more in the center of my body. That was the goal this off-season and I hit a little bit more to be ready for camp.

You went to big league camp; did you go in there with specific questions in mind for a particular player?

Mike Baxter: I didn't have anything specific in mind. I wanted to take more of a role where I took it all in and watched – an active participant but take a role where I did my work and noticed how everyone else did theirs and if anything came up along the way I would ask. The guys were great and the coaching staff was very receptive. Questions were always allowed. It was a great environment for that. I took notes and saw how everyone did things on their own.

Was there one thing that you took away from the whole experience of big league camp?

Mike Baxter: The consistency. That is what separates the levels. Obviously, they have the skill – there are a lot of skilled players there – but their ability to do it every day is what I really took away from that. That is what I have to do to elevate my game – bring that "A" game every night. That is why they are there and we are here.

You look ahead – what will make for a successful 2008 season for Mike Baxter?

Mike Baxter: A consistent year – both halves. That has always been the thing; put together a full year. I have a lot to work on defensively. I have to get better in the outfield and try and do some damage at the plate, be a force in the lineup – whatever lineup that is – carry a little bit more weight offensively.

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