Monday, March 30, 2009

Today's Conference Call (Part Two) Ryan Zimmerman & Adam Dunn

Continuing with the earlier Phone Conference Call arranged by Our Washington Nationals--local media and bloggers not in Florida are asking questions to guests set up by The Baseball Media Relations Office. After Team President Stan Kasten ended the initial session--he handed the microphones over to Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn for 10-minutes. The duo he referred to as "The Comic Relief Portion Of Our Show."

Here is that complete transcript:

Question: Ryan, can you compare the tone of the club compared to last season?

Ryan: “I think we are definitely a lot closer this year than we were last year. I think in the clubhouse, a lot of us have played together for a couple of years now and know what to do. It’s just a little bit more comfortable. I think spring training is a little bit smoother. And we are ready to play. It’s just a matter of us being around each other more and know what everyone is like.”

Question: Ryan—mentally as a hitter this year with Adam (hitting) behind you, does that take a lot of pressure off you. Do you feel like you will get better pitches to hit with that kind of bat behind you?

Ryan: “I think it will definitely help. But I don’t think I am going to get all fastballs to hit all the time just because of who is hitting behind me. I think he (Adam Dunn) gives our lineup a lot more depth—maybe someone who was hitting 5th or 6th is now hitting 7th or 8th now. I think that will help out a lot more than just him (Dunn) hitting behind me. But it’s definitely a lot better than what we had last year.”

Question: Adam: I was curious to know whether your experience this year with the World Baseball Classic, only playing once every couple of days, did that hinder, put you behind a bit, in getting ready for this coming season?

Adam: “No, I think it actually helped because we were playing all nine innings as opposed to spring, where you early in spring you wouldn’t be playing a lot. It seemed like every at-bat was taken more seriously than in spring training. I don’t think it slowed me down, not at all. I actually think that it probably helped.”

Question: Ryan, you came into camp this year really in shape, how has that helped you get ready for this season?

Ryan: “I am not in better shape than before. I have been in shape every year. But I think with the more years you play, you realize more what you need to do to get ready. And it was easier for me, knowing what I needed to do this off-season and just kind of learning from the past couple of years. I am getting ready a little bit quicker but nothing drastically different than what I have done in the past off-seasons. Just a couple of things—maybe eating a little bit better, a few things like that—but nothing crazy.”

Question: Adam will you be keeping Phil Collins as your walk-up music (to bat). And Ryan, what do you think about that soundtrack?

Adam: “I will probably keep Phil Collins as the music. I am a big fan of that.”

Question: So Ryan, do you think that will fit in?

Ryan: “Yeah. I think that we have a wide variety of walk-up music, I guess you could say. I switched a bunch. But no, I don’t think it would be any problem.”

Question: Adam, do you have a preference between first base and the outfield? And which are you real comfortable with right now?

Adam: “I have said it all along. It really doesn’t matter to me where I play. I think that they (baseball management) will put the best team out there. If that’s me at first, or me at third (yes, he said 3rd—by mistake), me in left, or right or center—I don’t care. It doesn’t matter—whatever is best for this team.”

(As the next question is about to be asked—you can hear Adam mutter to Ryan: “I actually said third!! And chuckles)

Question: Adam, Sports Illustrated did a story on you a couple of weeks ago about your so-called reputation around the game. You mention in the article, you don’t really pay attention to that sort of stuff. Is that true and is it ever hard to tune that stuff out?

Adam: “Yeah, it’s actually easy. If it weren’t brought up daily by writers and stuff like that, it would be a dead issue. But for some reason, it’s brought up a lot, so I have to talk about it. There are probably other things in this game I would like to talk about more. But I don’t really care what people outside this clubhouse think. That’s my approach.”

Question: Ryan, you know Adam pretty well. I am sure you knew that kind of talk was not accurate. As an opposing player the last couple of years, what did you see in Adam Dunn's game and what does he now bring to the clubhouse?

Ryan: “Obviously, he has the big bat in the middle of the lineup. I think that a lot of people criticize his defense a lot more than it needs to be. I think he is a pretty could athlete that can do a lot of things. I guess a lot of people doubt what he can’t do, but he loves to play the game and goes out there every day and plays. I think that in a clubhouse when you have the guys you play with every single day, you earn their respect by going out and playing every day, playing when you are a little banged up. Or playing when you are not feeling 100%. And I think that is the reason why he (Adam Dunn) has that respect.”

Question: Ryan—how have you developed as a hitter since you first broke into the big leagues, this being your 4th season? How much farther along are you now than when you first got here (to DC)?

Ryan: “I don’t think I have changed the way I hit at all. I think it’s more mental. I think that the part of seeing a lot of pitchers and figuring out what they are going to do to you on certain pitches and situations—what certain pitchers throw--is the key. That is just the fact of getting experience, being around a little bit. I think you learn what to do to succeed and be ready for the game, get your swing right and be consistent. I think that is the obvious part.”

Question to Ryan: “Do you feel you have made enough strides in that area, with experience, and repetitions, that there is another plane, another level, you can reach as a hitter?

Ryan: “There is always another level. You can probably do better than you did the year before. But it definitely helps with more experience and having a better plan—knowing what they (opposing pitcher) are going to try to do to you. When you get to that level, you find an approach and you just do it.”

Question: Has either one of you had the chance to work with Rick Eckstein (New Batting Coach) extensively yet. Do you have any comments about the difference between the hitting coaches style this year compared to what it was previously?

Ryan: “I think we’ve all had a lot of time to work with him. I think he’s always down there (on the field), ready to work. He takes his job very seriously and wants us to do the best that we can do. And I think he is very smart. He uses a lot of video. He’s very good at relaying information from what he sees and making it simple and relating it back to you. That’s a big part of it.”

Question: Adam, now since you’ve had time around this team, how has it met your expectations, maybe even different from your original expectations with this club?

Adam: “I don’t think it’s really been different. I had really high expectations coming in as far as the talent level and things of that nature. But it’s been exactly what I thought. And that’s saying a lot, because I really had high expectations. This is going to be a lot of fun. Most importantly we are going to win a lot of games.”

With that Ryan Zimmerman's and Adam Dunn's time concluded. At this point, Our Manager Manny Acta was expected to join the media session. But he was delayed on the practice fields--so in the meantime--newly signed lefthanded reliever Joe Beimel joined the discusssion, closely followed by Joel Hanrahan.

Their respective Q's & A's with the assembled media during today's phone conference call to follow.

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