Shawn Roof is the son of former Major Leaguer and current Tigers roving instructor Gene Roof – however, one shouldn't identify Shawn as simply the son of a baseball player. His hustle and defensive prowess have shown uniqueness of their own and speak volumes about his own character and hard work ethic. As of 5/17/08, Shawn is batting .304 on the season and .500 with runners in scoring position. With that being said, Shawn was nice enough to answer some questions for us.
TigsTown: Let me begin by first thanking you for taking the time to answer some questions. Last year you spent time with the Fighting Illini, GCL, and the Flying Tigers. So far this season, you have been able to spend all of your time with just one team and you have performed considerably better. Considering all of your experience gained last year and the current familiarity of your surroundings, how much do these factors contribute to your improved play?
Shawn Roof: Hey thanks for having me. The experience I gained last year and so far this season during Spring Training and the first half of the season have helped tremendously. Last year was a blur with college finishing up and then my first professional season starting that I was just trying to get my feet wet, and figure out how to go about my business on a day to day basis while trying to help the team win, and doing my best to improve everyday. Playing for the Flying Tigers and doing well in different situations gave me the confidence I needed showing me that I truly deserved to be on the same playing field as all of my teammates, and showed me that I could help the team in many different aspects. Then coming back to play here this season I knew what to expect from the league and the fans, and how to prepare myself to play everyday in the weather, and to get myself ready for the great competition that we face in the league.
TT: What other factors do you think might contribute to your improved play?
SR: Really those two were key factors, but working with the great coaches that I have had the privilege of working with last summer, and then again this spring just trying to correct flaws in my swing and in the field to help me become more consistent on a day to day basis. I try my best to pick their brains on all kinds of matters. We have so much experience in our coaching staff that it would be dumb not to talk to them. Larry Herndon and Toby Harrah have helped a ton on my swing and Kevin Bradshaw has helped my defense a lot, and Andy Barkett brings a ton of passion and fire to the dugout which is a lot of fun to play for. You can really tell he has the best interests of his players in mind and will go to bat for us with anything we need. Another factor has been playing with such great players from last year and again this year and just watching them play has helped out tremendously as well.
TT: Last season you were managed by Kevin Bradshaw, who is now a roving infield instructor in the organization. Outside of the spring, do you get a chance to work with him anymore, and how has he shaped your game where you are at today?
SR: Yeah playing for and working with KB has been awesome. KB is a great manager to play for - he lets you go about your business and allowed us to play our game. He was great about teaching the small aspects of the game to help us improve in the minor details, not to mention he helped out my defense a lot. He's been a great infield instructor so far, and I'm anxious to learn more from him in the future.
TT: Growing up in a baseball environment, how would you describe your childhood?
SR: I had an opportunity to do a lot of things many kids only dream about. From a young age I would go to the field with my dad and brothers and got to run around during B.P. and hang out with the players in the dugout and locker room. When I was in middle school dad was managing in Double A and Triple A, and I had the chance to sit on the bench during games, and watch how the players did things, and just learned a lot from watching them. I learned so many of the small things about the game that you would only learn while being around that and it has helped me to become a smarter more well rounded player. I got a chance to see all different parts of the country, and hang out with players that have been and are currently in the Big Leagues. It was a lot of fun and I know my brothers and I had a great time doing it.
TT: Your brother plays baseball for Michigan State and you played for the University of Illinois. Is there any trace of a Big Ten rivalry in your household?
SR: Yeah there's a huge Big Ten rivalry now. I got a chance to play against my middle brother Eric during senior weekend. There was a lot of trash talk leading up to the series, and we had about 50 family members that came up to see us play. We needed to win 2 games and they needed to beat us 3 games to make the tournament. We ended up winning the 2 which was cool, but it was a blast playing against my brother. We always grew up playing on the same team, but he played really well, and luckily we got to the tourney. Now the rivalry is more about football and basketball. My Illini got them in football, but they got us in basketball so it came out even. Now I just sit back and get a chance to watch them play now, and it is pretty cool to see them playing so well. I'm glad they have the opportunity to enjoy some of the same great experiences I had playing in the Big Ten.
TT: You majored in community health at the University of Illinois. What ultimately made you chose baseball over another profession?
SR: Oh just the love of the game. Ever since I can remember I wanted to play professional baseball and hopefully make it to the Major Leagues one day. Now that I have the chance to try to grab that dream and follow in my dad's footsteps you can't ask for anything else. They pay us to play a game. What else could you ask for? Not to mention the Community Health degree was only because they forced me to choose a major. I tried to major in baseball, but they said that wouldn't fly.
TT: Tigertown, home of Joker Marchant Stadium, provides dormitory rooms for the players in the organization and even requires players from some groups to stay there. I'm assuming that you've lived there at one point or another – can you describe the living arrangements and the atmosphere there for those who have never experienced such living?
SR: It took me back to my freshman year of college living in the dorms. We stayed two to a room and all we had were two beds, a couple closets, and a TV. The internet hardly ever worked so that was frustrating, but really it wasn't too bad at all last summer. They even make us 3 meals a day. Then we got back here for Spring Training, and they changed everything. The rooms were repainted, the beds were new, and the internet was fast. They did a great job helping make life more convenient for all of us.
TT: I've noticed that you have a very hard work ethic and put a thorough effort to everything you do on the field before and during the game. It's not uncommon to see you run down the first base line when you're walked. Can you explain your drive to us?
SR: I guess it has a lot to do with my dad emphasizing how important it was to play the game the right way. He never yelled at me for striking out or making an error, but he would come down hard on me if I disrespected the game, and I learned that from an early age. I just figure that if you work and play hard great things can happen. You only have a chance to reach your goal of playing in the Big Leagues once, and you do not want to look back and regret it later on in life. I think just like everybody else that plays, we hate losing, and I just try to do anything possible to win.
That wraps up the first of our Lakeland player interviews for this year. We would like to thank Shawn once again for answering our questions and we look forward to watching him play this season.