Q: You're making your second stint with the Padres, the first one about 10 years ago. I heard a rumor that you would call the Padres every offseason to see if they had interest in signing you again. This year, you DIDN'T call ... and look where you are. Is that rumor true?
A: A little bit. I hadn't called until like 2010. So a little untrue. I tried last year especially to come home. We live in San Diego, I have three small children that go to school in San Diego, so I just felt the need to be home. Unfortunately it didn't work out last year, but it all works out for the best and now I'm here in San Diego and looking forward to being a Padre this year.
Q: When you were with the team last, there were a lot of veteran guys. This time there are a lot of young guys. What's the vibe you get from this clubhouse?
A: I feel a lot of excitement. There's a lot of energy in there. These guys want to prove to themselves, to the team and the organization that put faith behind them, that they can win.
Q: You're experienced — 15 years in the major leagues, been with seven different teams. I feel like you've faced every kind of pitcher, been around every kind of teammate or coach. Does anything surprise you anymore?
A: You get surprised still. There's still a learning curve. No matter how long you've been in this game, situations will arise that you can learn from and be around guys with even more experience than myself. Everyone brings something different to the table and I feel like as a player of 15 years that, in this clubhouse, I've been through some of the things that these guys will experience. The ups and downs, the highs and lows of a season. So hopefully I can help them deal with that.
Q: What's one thing that you know about yourself now that you didn't 15 years ago?
A: I didn't know I'd be a big leaguer for 15 years, that's for sure. (laughs) For me, being a part of this team, this organization, it's all positive. I think if you look back at when I was here before, I was a little more immature, and I may be a little bit wiser at this point.
Q: You've been tagged with the leadership role. Some athletes don't like that, don't like that responsibility. You seem to embrace it.
A: I enjoy it. If I can give back to the younger guys at this point in my career, I'm all for it. I think that's one of the special things about this game — as you get older, you appreciate what you're here for and what you're doing. I think it would be selfish not to share those experiences.
Q: Have you connected with any players in particular?
A: Not really, I connect with everybody (laughs). I like to be in the locker room, a part of the guys, as much as I can. I like to talk, and I like to have fun.
Q: You've had a lot of personal accomplishments. You've hit for the cycle with the Atlanta Braves, you received the Golden Spikes Award in college and the Most Outstanding Player in the College World Series for Cal State Fullerton, among others. What accomplishment has meant the most to you and why?
A: I think the respect of my peers is the best thing I can take away from this game. That's the only thing I really look at in my career and say: "I was a good teammate."
Q: Favorite team that you've played for, as far as the fans are concerned?
A: Boston Red Sox.
Q: If you weren't a major league baseball player, you would be a ...
A: U.S. Marshal. My father was a police officer for 25 years, so the law was upheld in my house, and if it wasn't, then it was disciplinary actions.
Q: Pitcher you've most hated facing?
A: Mariano Rivera. And still hate facing.