TigsTown Q&A: DH/1B Chris Shelton

Being a Rule 5 Draft selection isn't always an easy thing. Sure, there's the initial excitement of getting the chance to play in the big leagues, but after that, it's the realization of a lot of time riding the bench. Chris Shelton went through that in 2004, but now with Toledo, he's looking to do everything he can to make his way back up to Detroit, and when that happens, he plans to stay. Toledo Correspondent Doug DeSloover spoke with Shelton about that and more.

TigsTown.com: What does it mean for you and the team to get off to a fast start?

Chris Shelton: We've been fortunate that we've been playing really well as of late. We've been getting timely hitting and good pitching, and that's always a key to a fast start.

TT: What were your goals coming into the season, both for you and for the team?

Shelton: Well for me personally, I just wanted an opportunity to get out and play everyday. Last year it was a struggle for me to get a chance to play everyday. I wanted to get down here, stay healthy, and hopefully put up big numbers. Team-wise, we felt like we had a good team coming in here, and we could get off to a good start and hopefully stay in it for a long time and see what happens towards the end.

TT: Do you feel you're on track for these goals so far this season?

Shelton: I think right now, as a team, we're right where we want to be. We've lost some close ones, but that's going to happen throughout the year. Personally, I'm definitely happy with where I'm at right now.

TT: What steps have you been taking to improve defensively?

Shelton: Fortunately for me this year I've been working with Bull (Durham), and he played many years in the big league at first base so I get to learn a lot from him and learn quite a bit from him.

TT: Do you prefer DH'ing or playing first base?

Shelton: As long as I'm in the lineup and just get an opportunity to play everyday, I'll be happy.

TT: Do you think the team has gelled yet, or are they still learning how to play together as a team?

Shelton: I think a lot of the guys are really close. We've had a few call-ups; a few guys coming in and out, but that happens every year, and I think the team is really close, if not already there.

TT: Is there a certain way you approach each at-bat, or any certain thing you do every time?

Shelton: At times there are situations when you have to do something different than what you want to do. It also depends a lot on the pitching. Basically I just go up there and try and hit the ball hard every time and see what happens after that.

TT: Is there anything that Leon (Durham) has done to improve your hitting? Shelton: Basically, he's told me to stay with my approach because he thinks my approach is where it needs to be, and make sure I don't get into a mode where I stop using the whole field. If I get into a pull mode, I start struggling a bit, so if I stay in the big part of the field, he thinks I'll be all right.

TT: Was there any hitter you idolized growing up?

Shelton: As I got a little older, it was Chipper Jones, because he likes to hit. But when I was younger I always watched Dale Murphy with the Braves and guys like that.

TT: Who's the toughest pitcher you've ever faced?

Shelton: I'd have to say Roy Halladay, just for the fact that he can throw everything for strikes at any time in the count. Just for the fact that he's a very good pitcher and when you play in the big leagues you've got to hit guys like that everyday, so hopefully I can get to that point.

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