This Baton Rouge, LA native and a second-round pick for the Detroit Tigers in 2001 has baseball running through his veins. As the left fielder for the Erie SeaWolves, Michael Woods eats, sleeps and dreams baseball. While he dreams, Woods envisions playing ball in the big leagues and winning the World Series.
"I don't want to just be on the team," Woods said," I want to be one of the main guys – driving in the runs and such. That's pretty much what I dream about."
Woods seems to be on his way there. He played baseball in college at Southern University (Louisiana) and was surprised to discover that Detroit wanted him.
"A lot of teams were interested in me. I know Toronto and Oakland – I saw them a lot and Chicago – I talked to their scouts a lot too," Woods said. " I think I saw the Erie scout from Detroit twice and had no idea they were as interested in me as they were – so it came as a big shock to me that Detroit signed me."
Leaving Baton Rouge was tough for Woods since he wasn't adapt to being away from home for long periods of time.
"I miss being around my family a lot. I definitely miss the weather and the food, but for the most part I've been playing professional ball for a couple of years now and each year gets a little bit easier being away," Woods said.
Another move that was tough for Woods was Erie switching him from second baseman to left fielder. The position Woods mostly played throughout his career was second base and in 2003 he led all Florida State League second basemen with 232 putouts, 309 assists, 20 errors and 74 double plays.
"There's not much going on in the outfield. I was a lot more active playing 2nd base – especially since I'm right in the middle of things. But being in the outfield gives me time to concentrate on other things…such as trying to keep warm," Woods said.
Woods keeps a positive outlook toward the switch.
"Playing outfield you have to mentally be into every situation of the game – you know, from pitch to pitch, thinking about at-bats and things of that nature," Woods said. "You really can't do that playing in the infield."
This season is Woods' first with the Erie SeaWolves. Even though he never heard of a seawolf, he's adapting well. Woods is working hard to raise his current batting average of .219 and says he does not feel a competition among his teammates.
The only competition Woods does encounter among his fellow SeaWolves teammates is who wins the title of funniest guy on the team. Woods ranks himself close to the top.
"I'm up there," Woods said. " There's some wild guys on this team so I'm maybe 4th or 5th funniest. I've got some stiff competition."
Woods' sense of humor came in handy – especially when injuries to his knees and thumb prevented him from a lot of playing time.
"It's been a rocky road so far," Woods said," but hopefully this year I can get through it and play a full season."
Woods says that his parents' love and support help him through turbulent times. One of the first things Woods does when he finishes a game is call his dad, a former AA ball player in the San Francisco Giants organization.
"I talk to him after every game," Woods said. " He always gives me good encouragement and tells me just to keep my head up – my mom as well. They've both been real supportive."
With the support of his parents, Woods does not believe in any superstitions, but playing ball since he was four, Woods has seen some interesting superstitions.
"I knew this guy once," Woods said, "he would change his bat consistently. Every time he would get a strike – he'd go grab a different bat and I thought that was just real strange. I'm thinking – it's not the bat…."
When Woods looks at baseball today – he sees it treated more as a business than a heart-felt game. He remembers the glory days with idols such as Deion Sanders. What Woods admired was Sanders' attitude.
"He was a two-sport athlete and changed the game with his speed," Woods said. "He walked with a swagger about him. He knew he was good – so I liked that."
Woods said that today there is no ball player in particular that he looks up to. He believes he is the best and is gracefully adjusting as a utility player.
"It's a good thing (to be a utility player) because I can do more than one thing and I guess, in a sense, it makes me more valuable to my team."
Being the left fielder for the SeaWolves does take away his free time and time to spend with his family, but that does not phase him.
"I'm doing something that I love to do – so it's all worth it."