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June 29, 2011 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-06-29

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 1
Jake Fox shares his thoughts on life in the MLB

By NEAL ROTHSCHILD
Daily Sports Writer
Perhaps one of the most self-
aware and reasonable personali-
ties in baseball, utilityman Jake
Fox, is in his ninth season in pro-
fessional baseball, now in the Bal-
timore Orioles organization.
He endured a turbulent period
at Michigan from 2000-02 and
left Ann Arbor for the professional
ranks after his junior year. He was
drafted by the Chicago Cubs as a
catcher in the third round of the
2003 MLB Draft. After fighting
through the minors for four years,
he finally broke into the majors
in 2007, but only for a handful of
games. He spent 2008 in AAA and
emerged back into the big leagues
in 2009.
Since then, the Beech Grove,
Ind. native was traded to Oakland
and then Baltimore. He has found
some success with the Orioles,
including a torrid spring training
this year in which he hit 10 home
runs. But for the time being, he
finds himself with their AAA affil-
iate in Norfolk, Va.
Fox, who has spent time at
catcher, third base and the out-
field, has hit .231 with 20 home
runs and 71 RBI in 185 games at the
major league level.
The Michigan Daily was able to
get him to share his experiences
in amateur and pro baseball a few
weeks ago when he was on the Ori-
oles roster.
The Michigan Daily: What are
your memories from your time at
Michigan and did it prepare you
for professional ball?
Jake Fox: Absolutely it did. My
time at Michigan was tough. I was
there through a transition period
when we went from Jeff Zahn to
Rich Maloney. My freshman year,
Jeff Zahn was our coach and then
Chris Harrison was our coach my
second year and then Rich Malo-
ney was my coach my third year.
So we never really had a consis-
tent coaching staff and it was dif-
ficult. But I think that prepared
me more for what I deal with than
anything I went through there.
The whole way through profes-
sional baseball - minor leagues
up to the major leagues and now
this is my third team in the major
leagues - you never know who's
going to be making up the lineup
cards, never know who's going to
put your name in the lineup. And

it really doesn't matter. You learn
that no matter who does it, no mat-
ter where they put you, where they
play you, you still go out and play
regardless of who's running the
show and who's making the deci-
sions. At Michigan, it just taught
you to go out there and play your
game.
You like to think when you com-
mit to go there that you'll be play-
ing for the same guy and that the
guys that brought you in will be
there for the whole three or four
years you're there. But that wasn't
necessarily the case. I think that
was an extremely great learn-
ing experience for me, especially
going into pro ball.
TMD: You left for the pros after
your junior year. Was that a diffi-
cult decision?
JF: I took a lot of heat from
people that were close to Michi-
gan because they wanted to see
me come back my senior year and
finish my degree and that sort of
thing. I ultimately did go back
to finish my degree, which I still
think of as my biggest accomplish-
ment so far that I've had. Getting
an opportunity after my junior
year was almost a dream come true
for me. I was ready to get started. I
felt like I was ready in my career,
I felt like I was ready physically
and mentally. And looking back, I
think it was a great decision for me
because I wouldn't be where I'm at
today had I not got that first year
under my belt and got ready to go.
TMD: How hard was the transi-
tion into professional baseball?
JF: I like to compare good col-
lege baseball to about a AA level.
When I played in the Cape Cod
League, you see a lot of the same
talent that you do in High A and
AA ball. obviously there's a little
bit of a difference with the balls
you use, the bats you use, but it's
still the same game. All you've got
to get used to isthe talent. You take
the best guys in college baseball
and those guys make it to the next
level. Then you take the best guys
from A ball level and they make
the AA level. And I think it's just
getting used to that pace of game
and that skill of play. That's the
hardest adjustment. You always
learn the game on the way up.
Through little league, high school,
college, you always learn the phys-
ical aspect of the game. But once
you get to pro ball, everyone can
do it physically and now you have

to learn the mental aspect of the
game and I think that's the biggest
part of development once you get
to professional baseball.
TMD: What have been some of
your biggest challenges in profes-
sional baseball and specifically the
major leagues?
JF: When people ask me what it
takes to get to the big leagues, my
No. 1 answer is perseverance. Yes,
persistence. Because it's a tough
road. There are some guys that get
a red carpet rolled out in front of
them and the big-time prospects
get a lot of money thrown at them
and in reality, most guys are not
that way. For most guys, it's an
uphill battle. You've got to fight
your way through the system,
you've got to weed yourself out and
for most of us it's a tough road to
get to the big leagues. Some guys
just get pushed through the minor
leagues and I was never that way.
Frank Robinson talked to us in
spring training and he told us that,
"When I got to the big leagues, I
always thought it was 70 percent
talent and 30 percent character
and the more I was around the
game, the more I realized I had
it backward. It's 70 percent char-
acter and 30 percent talent." And
I believe that. He says, "The guys
who don't have the right intan-
gibles don't usually make it to the
top. It's usually the guys who, No.
1, have the confidence to make it,
No. 2, are realistic with them-
selves and know what they have to
improve on, and No. 3, are able to
do that."And I think that combina-
tion is really what got me through
the minor leagues.
TMD: What's something that
you can't understand about the
majors until you've been there?
JF: It's funny you ask that. All
the way up, you always put the
major leagues as something on a
pedestal, almost as like a fairytale
destination. So once you get here,
you realize that everybody here
are just normal human beings like
everybody else. And it's funny
because you get here, and you
expect it to be some fairytale land
but it's really no different than all
the other levels you've played at.
It's just a new place with new faces.
Yeah, the talent gets better and it's
just like it does everywhere else.
Once you realize that all the guys
in the locker room went through
the same path that you did, that
everyone is in the same boat, you

FILE PHOTO/Daily
Former Michigan catcherJake Fox broke through this season with Baltimore.
realize that you belong here, you the end of that what I'm capable
can play here and it's just a matter of doing. At this point, there's a lot
of making adjustments the same of uncertainty because I've never
way you did in high school, college really had the opportunity to play
and the minor leagues. every day.
TMD: Obviously you're going to TMD: On going back and com-
want to win a World Series in your pleting your degree.
career, but from a more personal JF: I graduated in 2007 with
standpoint, is there something you a degree in communications. If
want to accomplish as a player? I would have had more time, I
JF: If you'd asked me that two would have tried to minor in Span-
years ago, I probably would have ish. I went back for my last semes-
had a different answer, but for me ter in 2007 and I took 23 credits
personally, I've come to the point in my final semester and finished.
where I want to be a part of a team I wanted that to be something
and I want to be a part of a team that I completed because there a
every day. I want to help a team were too many people who criti-
win and get to the playoffs, win cized me saying "You didn't fin-
a World Series. It's been such an ish your degree, that's something
uphill battle for me trying to find you should have," and I agree with
an everyday job that I think a per- them. I have always felt that way.
sonal goal for me is, I want to play I have always wanted it. I think a
an entire season as an everyday lot of people just shrug it off say-
player. I think that if I do that, I ing, "Oh, he's just saying that,
will be headed in a direction of a he won't ever do it." And I think
lot of other personal goals that I've that shows a lot about who I am
had. and what I believe in to go back
You always fantasize about it because it would have been very
when coming up in the minors, you easy for me to say, "I'm notgoingto
say "I want to hit this many home do it because I'm going to fall back
runs and I want to win a World on my career because I'm going to
Series and I want to win a Silver be successful in my career where
Slugger or a Gold Glove." But at I won't need it." But I need to be
this point, the biggest thing that I realistic with myself. I know that
want to do is be an everyday player my career's going to end some day
and be an everyday player for an and I'm going to figure out what
entire season. And I will know at I'm going to do after baseball.

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