Extra Innings with Mike Antonio, Kansas City Royals SS
1. Talk about how important sports was to you as a kid and when did you realize that you had a future in any sport?
Antonio: Baseball, baseball, baseball. I started playing when I was 3. I was born with it. The first day my father bought me a baseball and a bat, I knew I was in love with it.
2. How’s you’re off-season been so far?
Antonio: It’s been really good. During my off-season, I was working out in Kansas City facility, trying to get stronger. I’ve also been working on getting quicker and everything. Just trying to prepare for my upcoming season.
3. You’re in extended spring training, what are you trying to improve on?
Antonio: I’m trying to improve on my arm. When I throw the ball from short to first, it tails out a little bit and I’m trying to make it go straight. That’s the basic thing right now, just trying to get better and improve myself for the upcoming season.
4. You hit .264 in Arizona last season, how would you evaluate your performance?
Antonio: When I first came out, I was very comfortable. I knew how to compete at that level. I hit the ball hard and it found the right places. It was a challenge at times but I made the best of my experience.
5. You were drafted by the Kansas City Royals, describe the feeling when you’re named got called…
Antonio: When I got drafted with them, I was actually on the phone with the Tampa Bay Rays and they just called me and said they have me for the 3rd round, ‘Do you want to sign?’ And I said yes, so right when I told the Rays I would sign; we saw Kansas City had picked me. I did not hear from them until an hour later. It was fun and exciting. I was so happy. It was really nice. I loved it.
6. If the Royals were where they were 7 years ago, would you have signed?
Antonio: Yeah, I would have signed. I am not the type of person that I don’t sign because the team is good or bad. I’m the type of person that wants to help out my team win a world series and that’s how I am. I would have been more happy if I was drafted 7 years ago so I could look back and be like, ‘Wow, now we have a lot of good players.’ That’s what I’m about.
7. How do you feel to be apart of such a talented farm system?
Antonio: I feel good. It’s about having the best farm system in the minor leagues and me being apart of that farm system is really special and it’s an honor for me. You know, I’m just going to keep working hard and let God take care of the rest. I’ll control what I can control. Perform everyday and there’s no better feeling then me playing baseball.
8. Currently, you will be in contention with prospects like Christian Colon and others. Do you see yourself staying at shortstop?
Antonio: I see myself staying at short. I’m going to stay there.
9. Where do you think you’ll start the 2011 season?
Antonio: I don’t really know. I don’t think about none of that because that is not in my power. So I’m just trying to do my job everyday and that’s all. Wherever they put me, I’m going to give it all I got.
10. How much did hitting coach Andre David help you adjust to pro pitching?
Antonio: I adjusted pretty quickly. Andre David is probably one of the best hitting coaches that I have worked with. Every time when I’m working, he takes the time out to work on my mechanics and it helped me a lot. I am a different and a better hitter than I was last year because of Andre.
11. What’s different about your swing?
Antonio: Well, I have a quicker swing. It’s more of a professional swing, rather than a high school swing, more power and more pop. I’m hitting the ball harder to all fields. And where I was last year, that’s pretty good.
12. You were on the Royals scout team with prospects like Manny Machado, Orioles 3rd overall pick and Francisco Lindor. How was it competing against those guys? What did you learn and take away from the experience?
Antonio: I’m the type of player who loves competition. I didn’t look at them any different and treated them like everybody else. I just work for my team and try to work harder than everybody. I don’t look at nobody different.
13. What did you take away from them?
Antonio: I’m always going to be me. I’m not willing to change nobody because I’m always going to be myself. That’s me. I don’t try to impress players. I don’t think about nobody. I’m all about helping my team and myself. If I go 0-4 and my team wins, I feel good because I’m a team player. I don’t judge players. I just worry about if my team wins the game.
14. What kind of player would you consider yourself?
Antonio: I’m the type of player that likes to help everybody out. I try to push everybody to win. Everyday I play I have a winning attitude. I want to win everyday. I don’t like losing. My father always taught me to be a winner, not a loser. People have told me it’s okay to lose, but for me, it’s never okay to lose. So I’ll always try to do my best so all of us and be on the same page and have a winning attitude.
15. First baseball card: Describe the feeling? Did you ever collect as a kid?
Antonio: It is awesome, it is awesome! It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s a feeling I cannot explain because it’s not everyday that you get to see yourself on a baseball card. You grow up collecting baseball cards and you see yourself on a baseball card. It’s awesome.