Obviously, with the first five or six weeks I've had -- the struggles, trying to find my swing -- and now four days of bench time, it's not easy. Hitting coach Terry Crowley and I spoke while we were in the batting cage last week, and he made a great point. He said, 'Use this time and use this energy. You're miserable when you're not playing, but use this time and use this energy to get your swing right and get to where you need to be. So when the opportunity comes, you're in there for the rest of the season.'
I've always been a guy that's been a little fiery, obviously, and it's never been an easy transition. And that means getting to the big leagues, first of all, and staying in the big leagues. My noose has always been a little shorter than others' out there, and I understand that. The one thing is, I've always found a way to prevail when things go not-so-good. And I think, mentally, that's where you have to be tough. Physically, I don't have all the tools and the things you see on paper, but I've always been pretty mentally tough. That's where 90 percent of the game is played -- upstairs.
And not only that, I've always believed you have to be together as a group. I don't know where that came from. Maybe my dad or my uncle, because we've been a baseball family. Maybe it's because I've never been the stud. I've always been the guy that's had to grind it out, but I believe in that firmly -- that you have to be a group to win. You can't have individuals and guys that don't care about each other.
Hey, we've had a rough go, as a group. But we just beat the Red Sox and we're five-and-a-half games out of first place. We have a lot of baseball left. This thing can be done, if you believe it. Nobody's in or out of the playoffs, and that's for sure. We still have a lot of firepower, but things have to be ironed out as a team.
And yeah, this is what I expected. I didn't expect it to be easy. I didn't expect us to just go and sweep everybody. I expected some bumps in the road and some situations like we've gone through. But I also expect everybody to stay together, and I don't expect people to jump off the ship when things aren't going well. We haven't swung the bats as a group and we haven't pitched consistently as a group the way we're capable. And I take as much fault as anybody, offensively. Period.
I'm not a guy who brushes my teeth and looks down. I'm the guy who brushes his teeth and looks in the mirror. I understand the scene hasn't been the way I want it to be. But as a guy that's been around and has a track record, I also understand that there's a lot of baseball left and a lot of at-bats left. And that's why they call it an average.
On a lighter note, I've got to ask for some help, and I said this the other night on radio station 98 Rock. We've got to find a way to break this facial-hair barrier. I need help from the fans. I need help from the media. I need help from everybody around. I call it, "Beards for the Birds." That's the sign I want to see in the stands, and I'm going to give all the fans two weeks.
You guys know the odds better than I do, but that's the help I'm hoping for, and I've got my fingers crossed. Let's shock the world. Let's go to the playoffs. Let's win the World Series. And let's start with the facial hair.