One of the consistent questions around the Cardinals in recent years has been if they will upgrade in center field. Often, the idea is around finding a new bat for the position, however when the opportunity presented itself to make such a move, John Mozeliak went in the opposite direction by acquiring one of the most renown outfield gloves in the game, which is the one that Peter Bourjos brings with him.
While his reputation was already set coming into last June, but he affirmed it with one of the most athletic catches in recent memory on a long shot by Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. And while explaining it could be the way to go, reliving it is a much livelier experience:
I-70 got a chance to speak one-on-one with the newest addition to the Cardinal outfield mix on Monday. He discussed ‘the play’ that put him on the map, his approach to doing what seems improbable in the field and how he is preparing to make a regular impact in the Busch Stadium terrain.
I-70: A play that is really noted with you is the catch against the Orioles last year, where you went back to the fence and seemingly defied gravity to bring back an easy home run. What comes to your mind in a moment like that?
Bourjos: You kind of space out and forget about the ball, and that’s the key. You can be afraid of hitting the wall, and on that particular play I timed the jump and it was just me and the ball. I really had no thoughts in my head at all.
I-70: When you look at a park like Busch Stadium that you’ve never played in before, how do you go out and get a feel for how to approach what you need to do for positioning yourself and getting familiar with it?
Bourjos: I think you have to work on that in batting practice. Feel the dimensions out, where the warning track is and how padded the wall is. All of those things go into account with getting your work in and learning from the other guys as well.
I-70: Have you been to the Stadium yet?
Bourjos: I went over a few weeks ago, but it was covered in snow so I didn’t get to see it much, but it is a beautiful stadium.
I-70: When you get to camp, are you looking forward to getting with Matt and Allen and the other outfielders to get a feel for how they approach the field and what their range is to gauge what will be needed of you.
Bourjos: Yeah, there’s a comfort level with your other outfielders, and even the middle infielders, about what they can get to, and having that relationship about what they can get to on certain balls.
I-70: A lot of how busy you are has to do with the type of game that is being pitched as well. How excited are you to play behind a pitching staff like the Cardinals features?
Bourjos: Oh, I can’t wait. Obviously, there’s not going to be as many balls to run down because the staff is so good. Occasionally there’s going to be lazy fly balls more than likely. We had a pretty good staff earlier on in my career in Anaheim, and there wasn’t a lot to do out there, and boring is good because that means that the pitchers are doing their job.