Travis Denker: It was cool. It was awesome – just knowing that another team wants you and has an interest in you. It's an awesome feeling. I'd just got done surfing actually that day and then they called me and said "You're on the Padres" – so it was a good day.
Your first hit came off Mark Hendrickson of the Marlins. What was that moment like for you?
Travis Denker: It was a double down the line – and it was awesome because I got my first start. Actually, I hit a ball previous to that and the left fielder made a really good play – it was right on the line, too, and I was like, "Well, they play a little better defense up here." But [for my first hit] I ended up hitting another one down the line, and that one went through – but I don't think I ended up scoring.
How has pitch selection helped your game at the plate?
Travis Denker: You're only as good as what you swing at. Pitch selection is everything about hitting: you've got to have a plan and you've got to swing at a pitch that you want to hit. That's everything about hitting. I mean, there's not going to be anyone like Vladimir Guerrero.
You hit 21 homers for Columbus back in 2005. Is that the kind of hitter you believe yourself to be?
Travis Denker: You know, I would like that to be, but it's mainly just winning games [that I'm concerned with]: winning games and getting on base and hitting line drives. That year, I just hit a lot of line drives that eventually carried over the fence. I'm as shocked as anyone else when I hit a home run. Yeah, I know I can do it, but if you said, "You're gonna hit a home run," I'd be as surprised as anybody else. But yeah, if I get a good swing, some nice backspin, it'll take off. But being a good hitter and I guess growing up is knowing what kind of hitter you are – and I'm a line drive doubles guy. I've got to do that. I've got to get on base, and I've got to get my hits, and I've got to be on second base.
Going to new organization, is there any pressure to perform right away to prove the Padres right for claiming you?
Travis Denker: Kind of. But you know, pressure is what you put on yourself. But I just figure if I do my thing I hope they'll see what kind of player I am. You always want to do well. You're always trying to impress no matter what. I don't care if you've been in the big leagues a long time; you're always trying to do something. But yeah, I definitely want to impress them, sure.
How was your workout today?
Travis Denker: It was a good one. I was just getting my eyes dialed in because in the off-season, there's nobody throwing from the mound. So it's all about getting timing back right now and working hard and trying to get ready for the season.
You came in with a chance to secure a spot on the big league roster. What will it be like to make it in San Diego and stick?
Travis Denker: Oh, man. Since I was little – that's my main goal. I'd love to make this big league club and stay there for a long time. San Diego's only an hour and a half from my house. But I grew up an Angels fan. I just liked the players that year. I loved Eckstein; in '02 I loved watching Eckstein. And now he's here. Now I get to talk to him and ask him questions. He was one of my favorite players. And Garret Anderson: Don't ask my why I like Garret Anderson because he's the exact opposite of me – outfielder, left-handed. I think what it is about Garret Anderson is that he looks so nonchalant – almost looks like he's not trying. It seems so effortless, but he'll swing and the ball just jumps. I try to use that in my game and not try to try so hard. And in Eckstein, you've got the total opposite of that. He's busting his butt, you know.
And who do you identify with more?
Travis Denker: I like to mix them both. I have my own style – we all have our own styles and that's what makes us unique and special, but if you perceive Eckstein to be this way and Anderson to be that way or whoever, you try to incorporate those things. Just stuff that you take in from watching them. I love watching Alex Rodriquez hit; I love his balance. And Jeter obviously.
So you pick up on some of the little things?
Travis Denker: Well, I've always been appreciative of really good swings and good effort. These guys learned how to win. You can just tell what kind of players they are without even talking to them. And some of the guys here – I mean, Adrian Gonzales. Come on, that guy's awesome! To hit 36 home runs in Petco is like – amazing.
But I am definitely fortunate to be here and I love it and I am thankful to the Padres for letting me come.
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards