Hopefully you got a chance to read my story on Chris Colton from today’s Eagle. Colton obviously takes pride in his ability to be a leader for the Wingnuts and for any other baseball team on which he’s played.
I left out a lot of good material from my 15-minute conversation with Colton. Here is some more on what he had to say about his baseball career and coming back to Wichita after a year away from the Wingnuts.
On his love for the game and for Wichita: I’ve been playing this game ever since I was five years old, every year. The passion has always been there. Just coming out here, this city, I love it. The fans are very supportive, the atmosphere is just wonderful and I just love being out there. It doesn’t matter if I’m in center field, left field or right field, I love being out there.
On the differences between the Wingnuts from 2008 and the team under manager Kevin Hooper: Every year you’re going to meet new people. I think that I’ve been doing it for so long that I can adapt to meeting new people quicker than others can. I’ve been doing it for years now. Just being in the clubhouse now, being around the guys, learning the music that they like, just all different types of things, it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. Obviously it’s a lot different than when (former manager) Kash Beauchamp was here. I love Kash as a manager, but Hooper seems like he’s a lot more laid-back and just a wonderful guy to be around.
On if he’d be a different player if he carried a chip on his shoulder: It’s hard to say right now. I don’t change. Some days I have bad days, some days I have good days, but I have learned over the course of my whole career that if you get three hits out of 10 at-bats, you’re an all-star. You fail seven times out of 10 and you’re an all-star. I don’t take it as having a chip on my shoulder. I just take it as going out there and showing younger guys the way the game is supposed to be played. When I do that, I’m doing my job. Going out there every day, hustling, playing defense the way I know I can play defense. Just being an all-around teammate.
On if he was upset about being traded from the Wingnuts after the 2008 season: One thing about me, I’m a lovable guy. I just see it as it was another opportunity to go somewhere else and minister to other guys. It was no hard feelings (between) me and the Wingnuts or anything like that. I respect their decision. What I’ve learned in the course of my career is that this is also a business. Everywhere you go, it’s a business. (Manager Kevin Hooper) and them, they had to do what was best for the team. They made it to the playoffs last year and I made it to the playoffs last year, so neither of us got hurt by it.
On his reaction to a phone call from Hooper asking him to return to the Wingnuts: I was going to hang it up. I was thinking about hanging it up and spending more time with my family. Then I got the call from Hooper and he said, Hey, we want you back next year. I was like, Rally? Because I had a pretty good year last year. I was like, That’s awesome right there. Let me talk to my wife about it and stuff like that. So I called my wife and she said, Hey, go ahead and do it. You can only have it for so long. You’re still young, so play as long as you can. We’ve got plenty of time to be grown-ups. She gave me the OK to go do it, and I called Hooper back and said, Let’s do it.
On whether he could play center field in the major leagues: I’ve always felt that way. Let me tell you something about the way that I play center field — I take pride in everything that I do. Offensively, defensively. I played with a log of guys that are in the big leagues right now. Been around them, played with them, saw everything they’ve got. They are no better than I am. No better. When I play center field, every time I step on the field, I want to show everybody that I’m a big-league center fielder. I step on the field and go…all out and leave it all on the field. I know that abilities that I have and I think, no I know, that I’m a big-league center fielder.
On whether his defense is his ticket back to affiliated baseball: Who can say, man? Who can say? It could be hitting. A scout could be in the stands and he might see me hit two home runs that day. He might see me throw two guys out and make a diving play in the outfield and say, Man, that guy’s good. So you really can’t tell. You’ve just got to play this game day-by-day. You can’t look into the future and be like, OK, I’m going to do this tomorrow. No, you play for the present. You can’t play for the past or the future, you’ve got to play for right now. Every time you step in the box, that at-bat you’ve got to take it seriously. You’ve got to think, OK, this is my last at-bat of my entire career. When I run the bases, it’s the same way. When I play the outfield, same way. I just play everything like it’s the last time I’m going to do it.
On his role in the clubhouse: I’m by no means a practical joker. I don’t do anything like that. What I do is make guys laugh. It’s funny because when people see a guy in the clubhouse that’s loose, they tend to get loose with him. I don’t want to be around a whole bunch of guys that are all tight. You’ve got to be relaxed, you’ve got to be confident. You’ve got to play this game hard every day, but once you get in that clubhouse, you’ve got to be loose and be a good teammate to everybody. If a guy’s feeling down, go talk to him, see where his head is at. When I see a young guy, I feel like it’s up to me to show him how rookies (should) play the game.