Scott Baker on 2010, Target Field, Facial Hair, etc.

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If you caught Scott Baker in a honest moment, he’d probably be the first to admit he hasn’t performed up to expectations this season. Baker was the Twins best starting pitcher in 2008 and 2009, but has been plagued with elbow problems and inconsistency in 2010. As a result, his spot on the postseason roster is in question.

The 29-year-old Louisiana native chatted about a variety of topics following batting practice on Friday.

DZ: The regular season is winding down - hopefully there is a long way to go still - how do you feel, how are you doing?

BAKER: I feel good. I think at this point in the season everybody has got a little something going on and you just do the best you can with what you have. Obviously, we are still playing for something and as long as that’s going on it keeps us motivated, keeps us entertained and having a good time.

DZ: Your last start in Kansas City, you got a win. Obviously, the division is clinched and their isn’t a whole lot of pressure (but) with the losing streak and everything, did you feel like you needed a good outing to get the team back on track?

BAKER: I think your game plan, your approach is the same no matter what the situation is. As long as you are going out there and doing the best you can, I don’t think there’s an opportunity to put any more effort as long as you are doing the best you can. Obviously, we’ve been scuffling a little bit. At this point in the season, any win is nice. We are just trying to get back on the right track.

DZ: From a physical point of view, what is the toughest part of the year for you - is their any part where you feel like you are worn down and need a second wind?

BAKER: Obviously, I’ve been dealing with the elbow issue a little bit - I condition myself to throw more pitches and more innings than they’ll ever allow me. That’s the only way I know how to do it. The elbow has been a little issue, but as of right now it feels pretty good. It’s not going to completely go away until you are able to have a significant amount of rest. As of right now it feels good enough and as long as I feel like I am effective and it’s not bothering me to the point where I can’t be effective then I am OK with it.

DZ: This is the third division winning team you’ve been on now, is the best team you’ve been on?

BAKER: By far. I think we’ve had some great teams, but I think you look at the depth that we have. Obviously, we’ve bolstered our bullpen. We have guys like Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson - just a lot of guys that know how to win and have played on good teams. I feel like we have all of the puzzle pieces to be successful and we’ll see where we’re at after the season. Hopefully we can go as far as we’d like to.

DZ: Obviously winning the division is a big accomplishment - it takes basically six months to do it - but, having done that before - if you guys don’t do anything in the postseason, do you look back at the year - maybe not as a failure - but kind of a disappointment?

BAKER: Yeah, I think so. I think we expect to win the division as a team. We feel like we have a good enough team to do that. Everybody in the postseason, we feel like we can compete with. We feel like we should do well. Now, whether that’s the case or not, we’ll just have to see. I think we’ve set very high standards for ourselves and hopefully we can live up to those.

DZ: The first year at Target Field is winding down, what have you learned about this stadium?

BAKER: You know what, I really, truly believe that we’ve played better on the road because of playing in the conditions outside. I don’t think there’s as much of a transition when you go on the road as far as the turf and the elements. I think that has been a big help to us as far as playing better on the road. I think there was question of whether it was going to be a hitter’s park or a pitcher’s park and, as long as the wind is not blowing straight out, it’s pretty much a pitcher’s park. As a pitcher you feel pretty good about that. There are times the ball flies, but for the most part, it’s a good pitcher’s park. Any pitcher appreciates that.

DZ: You feel like that if you make good pitches , you are going to be treated fairly by the park.

BAKER: Absolutely. I think it’s a fair park for sure. There are spots that are like no-man’s land - dead spots out there. I thought it played very well this year. Obviously, with the fans being here every single game, it’s been a lot of fun to play in.

DZ: Heading into the postseason, do you know what your role is going to be yet?

BAKER: No, not yet. Obviously, we only have a few games left, but I’ve talked to (Gardenhire) and told him, “As long as the elbow is holding up, I am willing to help in any way, shape or form.” I know I am capable of helping out. It’s obviously a decision that’s up to them and we’ll just have to see when the season is over with.

DZ: On a lighter note, you grew the facial hair this year, was their any special reason for that?

BAKER: No, just trying something new. I think - not that I didn’t think I could do it - I just never had done it. It was just one of those things - “Let’s just see what it looks like.”

DZ: Did Carl Pavano have anything to do with it?

BAKER: No, no, Carl’s got his own deal.

DZ: Does your wife like it?

BAKER: Uh, she’s 50-50. I mean she doesn’t mind it, but she likes that clean shaven guy (laughs).

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players:

September 26: Kevin Slowey
September 16: Ben Revere
September 14: Nick Blackburn
September 7: Brian Fuentes
September 5: Randy Flores
August 23: Matt Capps
August 19: Brian Duensing
July 29: Jesse Crain
July 23: Ron Mahay
July 21: Danny Valencia
July 11: Michael Cuddyer
July 8: Jason Repko
July 5: Nick Punto
June 12: Jason Kubel
June 9: Drew Butera
May 11: Denard Span
April 25: Justin Morneau
April 22: Alex Burnett
April 21: Mike Redmond
April 16: J.J. Hardy

One Response to “Scott Baker on 2010, Target Field, Facial Hair, etc.”

  1. Denard Span: “Trust me, I am my hardest critic” » MinnesotaSCORE Says:

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    […] 2: Scott Baker September 26: Kevin Slowey September 16: Ben Revere September 14: Nick Blackburn September 7: Brian […]

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