Our guest is Mike Benjamin, the Red Sox top utility infielder. The following questions were originally put to Mike around June 26, 1998.
From: Karen A. Mayers
How are you both (WK and Mike) doing adjusting to life so far from your former "home" in San Francisco? I love to visit Boston when I get the chance. Fenway Park is not all that different than 3Com/Candlestick from a fan's point of view (it is quite old and crumbly). What about for the players? What are your thoughts about the wonderful season the Giants have been experiencing?
You are wonderful ambassadors for the game. I hope you get reunited with San Francisco again. I look forward to a Boston/SF interleague series.
WK and I are doing great
with the Boston Red Sox. They are a fine organization. We miss
the S.F. Giants fans and Dusty
We love Boston Fenway Park. It's packed every night and the fans really support the team, win or lose. The players in Boston are super guys. They work hard and like all the players in the Major League, they want to win.
We are happy for Dusty Baker because he is the Giants success!! We will always keep our doors open and being with Dusty is always a plus for Wendell and I.
From: Angie Simon - Redwood City, California
As an infielder that plays on both the right and left sides of the infield, how do you split your time during practice working on ground balls? Balls hit to shortstop come off the bat very differently than those hit to second base. Are you more natural at one spot than another? Which do you enjoy the most and which is your least favorite?
Thank you for your time and good luck with the season.
When I'm not playing in the game that day, I like to take a lot of ground balls at every position. I will also work on turning the double plays from SS & 2B. I will take balls in the dirt at first base along with throws from the other infielders.
I just enjoy playing and helping the Red Sox win games. I have worked hard at every position and I feel I do a good job. My newest position is first base!
Since there is little time to train for each position, can you offer any drills for an advanced player who also moves around?
Some of the drills that Wendell will help me through are:
Congratulations on finally getting a chance to show your talent! I am pleased to have you on the Sox!
Is it difficult to go from the attitude of fighting for a job (like in Spring Training) to role sharing (like you do now with Lou Merloni)? Do you find yourself trying to make every at bat count and try too hard?
Keep up the good work!
It's not too difficult because I have been fighting all my career. My attitude is to do the very best I can whenever I play. I don't worry about the outside variables that I don't have any control of. I used to try too hard on every at bat when I was just starting out. Now I have matured a lot and understand what I need to do. It's still tough to get a feel at the plate when you haven't played in eight days. I make adjustments better now because I understand what I need to do when I hit.
From: Mike Mahoney - Marlborough, MA
WK bills you as a utility infielder. Are you happy with that role? I'm sure you didn't ride the bench to the big leagues. Is it a downer to have to wait for a concussion (Mark Lemke) to play every day and now you split duty (Lou Merloni)?
I am billed as a utility infielder and I am a very good one. Sure, I would like to start, but in the past, injuries have kept me back. In the begining of my career, not hitting very well also hurt me. I take pride as a utility player because not many players can play all the position as well as I do. You have to make the best of the situation and I have.
From: Scott A. Odom
As a High School coach, I would be interested in knowing what Mike thinks every middle infielder should know or should be able to do. Also, tell me about any drills he uses or feels are useful for middle infielders.
The middle infielders should know their responsiblities on every play. They should also know each hitter and how we are going to pitch them. They need to know the catcher's signs so they can be ready on certain defensive plays (double steals and pick-offs). Communication is a must.
What it takes to win!