Calm, Cool and Collected: Kennedy and Smith
Earlier this afternoon the Padres held a “Season Ticket Member Conference Call” with Padres outfielder Seth Smith and starting pitcher Ian Kennedy. Fans and members had a chance to call in and ask some questions of the players, particularly regarding their approach to the game and even their life off the field. Below is a list of bullet points and questions from the event so that you can get a glimpse at how this event went down:
- Jesse Agler (host of the “Padres Social Hour” pre-game show, also on Twitter as @jesseagler) introduced everyone to the conference call and informed fans of the format, where they could call in and ask any multitude of questions. Fans were also reminded about the Padres “membership clubhouse” program where fans can buy season tickets and other things to get various rewards and opportunities to meet and interact with players such as this one.
Agler started the questioning off by directing some towards Seth Smith and then Ian Kennedy.
- Agler: “In being one of the hottest hitters in NL, and also NL player of the week last week, how have you been seeing the ball?”
- Smith: “I’ve been doing well I guess. It’s been fun… anytime you can get some good games together you’re in good shape; I’m really just trying to have a good at-bat every time and the results take care of themselves…
- Agler: “Ian Kennedy… you’ve been throwing quality start after quality start, how have you been enjoying this nice stretch run you’ve had?”
- Kennedy: “It’s been fun… I’m honestly just trying to keep up with Cash and Tyson, it’s nice to have other guys throwing well at the same time.”
After Agler’s quick introductory questions, the phone line then transferred to the members and season ticket holders who had some decently good questions of their own.
- Season Ticket Holder: “Runs are obviously scarce down at Petco Park, and Pitchers seem to work extraordinarily hard… how much pressure does it put on the pitching staff knowing that almost every outing you have to pitch a near perfect game? Ian Kennedy?”
- Kennedy: “Every game is going to be real close, that’s why we have such a strong bullpen… Petco is tough to hit in… it’s always going to be close, you go into it every night thinking the same thing and trying to just, ya know, scratch at least just a few runs across… it’s like a playoff atmosphere, every run is so valuable… no matter what, every single outing I’m trying to give up the least amount of runs as possible. If we score 7 runs at some point and I give up 6, I won’t feel good about my outing but I will be happy we won as a team.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Seth, what are you doing between starts to stay healthy and what are you doing to stay competitive?”
- Smith: “I Do a lot of things… I take the field around 1:00 or 2:00, most games, and I start treatments either in the hot tub or I get stretched out by the trainers… when we play late games, I don’t do much during the day until I get onto the field and… you know, I take about 4-5 hours to get loose and ready for those night games. Best way to get prepared and continue to perform is to just ease into it.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “How did Seth and Ian get roped into the conference call?”
- Kennedy: “We’re relatively new to the team I guess… if you asked Chase Headley he would say we got tricked into doing this. It’s nice to talk to fans when you’re a new face on the ball club”
- Smith: “We like to do stuff to give back to the fan base. We coordinate with our media liaison.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Seth, what’s the difference between hitting in Oakland and Petco, and do you contribute the success you have this year to having played in Oakland?”
- Smith: “They’re both pitchers parks, more difficult to hit in from a homerun perspective… Oakland is similar, honestly… difference between Oakland and Petco is the Batter’s eye is better in Petco, and the weather in Oakland is cold/windy which affects how you prepare or how you get into the game, weather in San Diego makes you comfortable before you play a game… lighting in Petco is better too. Maybe I’m just a better player now, but there are a few differences between locales for sure. Everywhere you go is an adjustment to make good at-bats.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Ian, how are you able to consistently stay so calm cool, and collected on the mound?”
- Kennedy: “Sometimes I don’t feel that way… from a young age I was told not to show my emotions or let the other team know how I’m feeling… if you show how you are, the team can read into that and they could get a hit or two off your frustration; hold a poker face and keep your signs. In the majors, hitters are like sharks and can smell blood in the water… if emotions are getting the best of a pitcher, hitters can tell and they can jump all over someone who isn’t feeling good or showing it on the mound.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Congratulations to Ian Kennedy and Seth Smith on the good job they are doing right now… question for Seth: Congrats on doing real good on hitting and fielding… question is, have you ever made it to the All-Star Game, and do you think you are one of the top hitters and will make it this season?”
- Smith: “Never been in the major league ASG, but I did play in a minor league all star game… it would be a wonderful experience, but I have no control over that and I have no concern with it. I’m just trying to be myself, to go out and play, and just have some good at bat.” (Note: Seth Smith, as of May 21st, has the highest batting average of any NL outfielder).
- Season Ticket Holder: “Ian, how is catching with Grandal as opposed to Hundley or Rivera?”
- Kennedy: “I threw to Rene half the time and Nick the other half, I like throwing to any catchers… I know it’s a little different when throwing to Nick or Yaz, but I just have happened to throw to Yaz every start this season… sometimes I’ll go out there and have a game plan together… I just have to communicate with whoever is catching me and make sure we’re on the same page. I just feel that Yaz has caught me every start this year and I know that all of our catchers prepare for every game and put in all the effort they can. I like all the catchers we have.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Seth, my season tickets are in left field, and I enjoy watching you play, how long do you think you will be in San Diego?”
- Smith: “It’s not something I can control, I’ll be a free agent at the end of the year, and I don’t know anything about how that works… I love San Diego, and my teammates, and the fans, and the atmosphere… but it is a business, and if all things are equal I would love to come back to San Diego… but I have to think about my family and that this is my job. I would like to stay though.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Seth, you’ve played for two playoff teams in OAK and COL, is there any difference in the chemistry of those teams and your San Diego team, or are there things you like?”
- Smith: “Yeah, there are some similarities… everyone comes out and plays the game hard and the team we head out there with is the team we want to play with; all we can ask for is playing as hard as you can and also having fun, so there is some similarities out there.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “You guys are out there every day doing it… you make us proud. You’re out there doing it for us, and we are hungry for a Championship, you guys are doing it for us. WE ARE PROUD.” (Note: this wasn’t a question, but just an excited fan talking to Ian and Seth.)
- Season Ticket Holder: “Seth, do you know when you are the plate do you know if you’re gonna hit a homerun or if it’s just gonna happen?”
- Smith: “Nope. I wish. There are certain situations where you think your chances are little higher but they just happen. If you ever try to hit a homerun, it won’t happen… and if you think you never will hit one again it will happen. Those opportunities will just come to you.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Ian, what was the transition from Chase Field to Petco Park like?”
- Kennedy: “Visiting Petco as a visiting pitcher was always nice because of the marine layer… it doesn’t change how you pitch, really, hitters just have to hit harder. You’re never gonna hit any “cheap homeruns,” you’re just gonna have to hit harder, it’s easier on pitchers when you pitch at home no matter where ‘home’ is. Your home field will affect you, and it took some time to get used to. I love pitching at Petco.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “What the heck do you guys talk about while on the field with other players? You talk with the opposing first baseman, what do you talk about with the other team?”
- Smith: “It’s mostly just small talk… I was talking to Joe Mauer at first last night and we just were chatting it up with some simple small talk questions… sometimes you see some guys you’re close to and you ask about family and stuff like that. I’m not a base stealer so I can be a little chatty sometimes, so you just say hello and that’s about it.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Hello. You’ve been in San Diego for a while… what is your favorite spot to eat at?”
- Smith: “I’ve only been here for a few months… my wife and I like food near the field.”
- Kennedy: “My family likes to eat at Sushi on the rock in La Jolla.”
- Season Ticket Holder: “Seth you just do what you do whenever you come up to bat?”
- Smith: “Yes. All I’m just trying to have a good at-bat… just go up there and work, it’s kind of tough… it’s one of the tougher parts of the game to have hitters go to various and sundry fields where the dimensions feel closer or further depending on the location.
- Season Ticket Holder: “Who is the team you most love to beat as a Padre?”
- Kennedy: “We like to beat the Dodgers. I didn’t have a problem until probably last year… but since being traded I really like to beat the Diamondbacks.”
- Smith: “I played with the Rockies for a while and now with San Diego… so I want to beat the Giants. I also had a rivalry with San Francisco with while I played in Oakland, so hating them just became that much easier. It’s not so much that you dislike them, I should say, it’s that it’s just very competitive… they’re good teams, so anytime you can beat a team with a huge payroll and expectations it feels so good to just beat them. It’s all equally exciting when you play a good team… you just want to win at the end of the day, no matter who it is.”
The conference call then ended with Jesse thanking everyone who listened in and participated in the call, and fans were reminded that there would be many other conference calls and events like this as time goes on. While the questions asked were fairly innocuous and innocent, there were a few gems in there that seemed to arouse this baseball writer’s interest – notably the rivalry question and the impending free agency of Seth Smith. Only time will tell, however, in regards to how this team does with stars like Seth Smith and Ian Kennedy putting their heart and soul out on the field for Padres fans everywhere.