Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Interview with Hank Blalock

ML: Marty Lurie here with Hank Blalock of the Texas Rangers. You look a little like Robert Redford. They say you’re the natural.

HB: I wouldn’t go that far. I’m just trying to do the best I can up here.ML: Hank Blalock, a rookie in the American League. You certainly come in with a lot of hopes and a lot of publicity. Hank, tell us about spring training for you this year. Going in you had a shot to get a job. This is a team with a lot of hitting on it. How was spring training for you and how did it all turn out?

HB: I just wanted to go in, play good defense, and take advantage of my playing time. I thought I had a pretty good spring, and was lucky enough to make the team.

ML: You got a shot in your first major league at bat last night, and maybe you can take us through it and how it went.

HB: I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle. I took a pitch, and then a fast ball, and I was trying not to do too much; and I got a line drive single.

ML: Not many people start off their big league career with a hit, so that must have been a thrill for you. Did you get the baseball without any funny stuff going on?

HB: Yes. I got the ball. No one played any pranks or anything on me. Either way it’s cool.

ML: You grew up in San Diego, and the A’s have a third baseman Eric Chavez, who has also grown up in San Diego. Was he somewhat of a legend down there? You guys play the same position.

HB: Yes. He played at a high school next to mine. I believe I was a freshman when he was a senior. He was one of the better high school players that ever came out of San Diego. He was one of the better players.

ML: Growing up down there now, were you a Padre fan all the way?

HB: Yes. I liked watching the Padres. They were the hometown team. I liked going down to the stadium watching Tony Gwynn play and all the other Padres. A lot of people in San Diego like the Padres.

ML: Baseball America. This is a publication that comes out and follows high school players, college players, and people when they get into the game. You’re one of those that have been followed since you signed with the Rangers. What does that do for you? What does all that publicity mean? Does it get to you at all? Do you follow it?

HB: I don’t know if I follow it, but I read whatever they write about me. I think it’s kind of funny just to read through and get other people’s perspectives on you. The only thing that matters is what you can take care of. As far as evaluating, it’s fun sometimes to see what this writer and different guys think about you. That’s the only way I look at it.

ML: You get to play third base next to potential Hall of Famer—I think we can assure ourselves that he will be in the Hall of Fame—that’s Alex Rodriguez. What do you pick up from A Rod?

HB: He’s been a great role model for me. He’s helped me a lot in the infield, and positioning myself, and just about everything. He came up to me and said, “Hank, always feel comfortable coming to me for advice.” I use him as somebody to learn from. He’s a really good guy to look up to, along with all the other veteran’s on the team. It’s not just him; it’s also Raffy. If I need a left-handed hitter’s perspective, or if Pudge wants to pick guys off at third, or anything, I feel it’s really nice to feel like I can go up to guys and talk to them.

ML: What’s the strength of your game right now as you head into your first major league season?

HB: I’d like to consider myself like an all around player. I like to think that I could play good defense at third, and I can move a run over, or drive them in, or do whatever it takes to help contribute—to help the team win.

ML: How about your glove?

HB: I feel like I’m a pretty good defense third baseman. There’s all season left, but I hope I can keep making the plays.

ML: A lot of people—I don’t know if they compare you—but the name of Sean Burroughs comes up, third baseman for the Padres who is a Southern California kid. Do you know Sean? Give me a little comparison between you a Sean Burroughs.

HB: I met Sean in Seattle at the Future games. He’s a nice guy. We got along pretty well. He’s a good hitter, and I wish him the best of luck with San Diego.

ML: He’s obviously going to be a big time star in the National League. Growing up in San Diego, played little league. What position did you play? How did you start in baseball?

HB: I played little league just about like everybody else, I’m sure. I always played shortstop, and then they moved me over, when I signed because I didn’t have enough range. I guess I thought they thought I fit the third baseman a little bit better.

ML: Was it tough to decide to take the money and sign or to go to college? What were your choices coming out of high school?

HB: I just wanted to start playing pro ball. I never really liked going to school. I was going to Cal State Fullerton, but that was never really an option. I’m glad I got drafted. Really high compared to what I thought I was going to go. I’m just glad I got the chance.

ML: Where did you think you were going to get drafted?

HB: I thought I was going to be the 10th or 15th round probably.

ML: Well, pleasant surprise Hank Blalock. You’re in the American League and got your first hit on opening night.


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