‘I don’t feel it’s a roadblock for me’Outfielder surprised demotion took so long. On trade for All-Star McLouth: ‘Am I hurt by it or upset by it? No.’
By Carroll Rogers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Q & A Jordan Schafer, Gwinnett Braves
Normally, getting banished to the minor leagues while an All-Star with a three-year contract takes your job would be as bad as it gets. But Jordan Schafer has been through worse —- a 50-game suspension last year for his suspected link to HGH.
Since the Braves sent Schafer to Class AAA Gwinnett on June 2 and traded for Nate McLouth the next day, Schafer has held fast to the ideal tattooed on his arm: “Our greatest glory is not in the rising but in the rising after the fall.”
He has been on a raging roller coaster for two years —- from one of baseball’s hottest prospects to the suspension, to winning the center field job this spring and hitting a homer in his first major league at-bat to striking out 63 times in 167 at-bats while hitting .204.
He’s taking two weeks off to recover from a bone bruise in his wrist. In the meantime, Schafer gave a glimpse into his latest body art and his mind-set in a recent conversation with staff writer Carroll Rogers.
Q: How much did your wrist have to do with your struggles? A: It bothered me, but that has nothing to do with it. I struggled because I didn’t make adjustments or sometimes I tried to make too many adjustments. After every at-bat, I’d run in and look at my video. Then I’d be thinking about that at the plate instead of just trying to have a good at-bat. I needed to make adjustments, but not to the point where it changed my swing altogether.
Q: You got away from what got you here?
A: Hitting a home run my first at-bat and [another] a couple days later might not have been a good thing because I tried to swing too hard. That’s not really my game. I looked at some [video]. As soon as runners got on base, I took swings that I have no idea why I was swinging that hard. It seems like sometimes as soon the guy [ahead of me] hit, I was in such a rush to get up there, I almost sprinted to the plate. Whatever the pitch was, I’d swing.
Q: Were you surprised to be sent down?
A: I thought I’d be sent down sooner than that. It’s all about winning in the big leagues and I wasn’t helping them win. … I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t mad. I think I’ll be fine here soon, where I’ll be able to come back up. I needed to go down and get things right, where I can tweak with my swing without the games meaning so much.
Q: What about the trade for McLouth?
A: McLouth makes us a better team. Am I hurt by it or upset by it? No. If he can help us win, then by all means, let’s get him. I have no worries for myself. When I figure things out, I’ll be back up. I don’t feel it’s a roadblock for me at all.
Q: How can it not be since he plays your position?
A: The Braves have reassured me that when I’m ready to come back, when I figure things out, that I’ll be ready to go.
Q: Even if that means moving to a corner spot?
A: If me moving to a corner makes our team better, then by all means.
Q: Your last two years have been crazy, eh?
A: I’ve probably experienced more ups and downs than just about anybody else in baseball. I really don’t know how much more drastic you could get. But this isn’t near as hard as what I went through last year. It’s not like this is the end of the road. I’m 22. I still have a long way to go. I have a lot to learn. Yeah, it stinks, but it’s not a setback that’s going to hurt me. I need to go down and have some success and start feeling like I’m going on the right track again.
Q: What about last year?
A: Last year, that’s public humiliation. This I look at as just a step, another thing to learn from. I’ve been there, I’ve faced the best pitchers in baseball in Johan [Santana], [Tim] Lincecum and [Roy] Halladay and I know what to expect. I know I can change things down here.
Q: What about the slogan on your arm?
A: It reminds me I can overcome things. It keeps me humble, no matter how good things get. My tattoo guy[Brandon Bond of All or Nothing Tattoo,Atlanta GA] was making fun of me about how much I struck out. It was refreshing to have someone be honest, because outside [the clubhouse], everybody says you’re great. It’s nice just to hear somebody say, ‘Dude you struck out way too much.’
The Atlanta Braves' Jordan Schafer Gets Tattooed at All or Nothing Tattoo: