Jason Kubel: On Chase Field And Defense

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09: Jason Kubel #16 of the Minnesota Twins looks on during batting practice against the New York Yankees during Game Three of the ALDS part of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

It's no secret that a lot of people didn't like Target Field too much, to hit there. I feel here, that I can use the whole field and still put up the power numbers I want to put up, instead of having to try and pull the ball in the air to get it out.
-- Jason Kubel

This afternoon, Jason Kubel spoke to the media about his new deal with the Diamondbacks. Topics discussed included how the deal went down, why he picked Arizona and what he can bring to the table, both with his bat and the glove. A full transcript is after the jump. [Thanks to Seth for the audio]

It seemed like this came about out of nowhere? Was it like that for you?
Jason Kubel:
Yeah, it was. Going back to June, when we came to town to play and my agent was out there too, I was telling him, "This is a pretty nice place, I like the way the ball comes off my bat here." Obviously, it's a very talented young team, and I told him then, this would be a good place to be. I love Arizona, and so we talked about that. And as we moved forward at the end of the season, into free-agency, he had some conversations with Kevin [Towers], but nothing came out of it. Then, about three days before we heard back from Kevin, he told me 'The Diamondbacks are out of it," and we were like, "Ok, we'll just keep going on with everything else." We had some stuff brewing up, then we heard back from Kevin, and put a couple of things on hold. After that, it happened real quick, and I'm just thrilled.

Did you talk to Kevin?
JK: Yes, I talked to him on Saturday. It went great. He said from all the reports, I would fit in very nicely here. Like I said, it's a young, talented team, and I've been around that for quite a while with what we've got in Minnesota, so I'm really looking forward to it. I think, I hope, I fit in really well with the guys.

It almost sounds as if this was your first choice.
JK:
You know, I live in LA, so I grew up a Dodgers fan. That was probably my #1 choice, been in discussions with them quite a bit, but this was a very, very close second. I like how close it is to home, and don't have to worry about going back east any more, which is really a pain. This will be a perfect situation here, can live here all year round, both spring and in-season, and like I said, I like the way the ball comes off my bat here. The decision was very easy: we were on board as soon as we called back.

Was there any talk with the Twins, or was it pretty apparent that going back to Minnesota was not going to be an option?
JK:
No, we kept in contact, they were there right up until the end. I think, for me and my family, this is a really good fit for us, and I couldn't be happier with how things turned out.

How hard will it be to leave Minnesota after being there so long?
JK:
It'll be tough. Guys that, baseball career-wise, I grew up with. It's really tough to move on, but it's part of the game and the business. You move on and I'm sure I'll build some pretty good relationships with the new guys too.

Are you looking forward to being in the National League, where there's no DH?
JK:
I am. Actually, all the teams I've talked to all year have been strictly outfield. I'm not a big fan of the DH. I feel more in the game in the outfield, and that's what I want to do and prove I can do it. I'm ready for it. I take a lot of pride in my defense, and I'm more than happy to have a chance to just be an outfielder.

How do you think your defense translated to a big park like this?
JK:
Obviously, I'm not the fastest guy in the world. But like I said, I take a lot of pride in my defense. I work pretty hard at it. I try to make the best first step, try to get the best route. I think I do a pretty good job at that. I'll make the plays that should be made and every now and then I get a little athletic out there and make some other ones. I take a lot of pride doing it right and making all the plays.

Did Towers indicate what your role might be?
JK:
Yeah, he was saying we want to get your bat in the line-up, so expect to be playing quite a bit... I'm just grateful to get this opportunity, and everything feels like normal again [with his foot], so I'm pretty excited about that. Things weren't going so well, not only for myself, but the team was struggling, so I thought, if I can get in here, try to help out and I pushed myself to go when I wasn't ready. Had a couple of setbacks here and there, but I got the rest finally; all the pain's gone, so I'm happy about that.

Do you have any relationships with anyone on the Diamondbacks team?
JK:
I played with Craig Breslow for a couple of years in Minnesota, and absolutely Aaron Hill, I've played against him forever. We came up through the minors together. But I got a chance, like I said, last year we played three games here. It was good for them, not good for us, but it looks like a good, young fun group and I'm looking forward to it.

Why do you think you like hitting in this ball-park?
JK:
It's no secret that a lot of people didn't like Target Field too much, to hit there. I feel here, that I can use the whole field and still put up the power numbers I want to put up, instead of having to try and pull the ball in the air to get it out. I did run into trouble trying to do that stuff more often and it really showed in the numbers and everything. I think I can use the whole field here, and not worry about hitting a ball that I thought I hit pretty well to center or left-center and it just being an out. I'm looking forward to that.

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