Cain takes center stage for Q&A

Center fielder chats about Royals' past -- and future -- postseason prowess

Cain takes center stage for Q&A

When the Royals burst onto the national stage last October, fans everywhere got perhaps their first extended look at the fun-loving, fearless, wall-crashing style of play of Lorenzo Cain. Royals fans had seen Cain patrol the outfield with reckless abandon for years. Now it was the nation's turn to fall in love with his speed, grace and, of course, that electric smile. A Gold Glove candidate in center, Cain put on an amazing display during the 2014 postseason with an array of diving grabs in the alleys and body-bruising catches against the fences. A popular tweet at the time reprised an old quote about Phillies outfielder Garry Maddox: "Water covers 72 percent of the Earth. Lorenzo Cain covers the rest."

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But beyond his fascinating athleticism, Cain's popularity among fans stems from his seemingly boundless love for the game. "You can always tell he's having a good time," teammate Eric Hosmer says. "He loves to play."

As the Royals head toward October with a firm grasp on the AL Central, the 2014 ALCS MVP and first-time All-Star in '15 gave MLB some insight into the inner-workings of a burgeoning star.

Last October was so crazy. How long did it take you to put everything in perspective?
Once I got into the offseason, it was still a little painful. I would often watch a lot of the games online. I definitely appreciate how far we made it and how hard we fought as a team to get a chance to go to the World Series. Unfortunately, we lost, but the experience was once-in-a lifetime.

Does it make you hungrier to go back and win it all?
Most definitely. Coming into this season, a lot of people didn't expect us to keep winning; they called last year a fluke. We just set out to prove people wrong, and we've definitely done that. Our main goal was to get back to the postseason.

Do you have a favorite memory from the Series?
I can't pick just one. I have a lot of memories, from the way we came back in the Wild Card Game to all the catches and plays we made as a team, and all the clutch hits that guys came up with.

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Was the World Series purely a fun experience, or did you feel any pressure?
I don't think there was pressure, even though it was our first time. For a group of guys getting a chance to play in the postseason or the World Series for the first time, I don't think we were nervous. It was all adrenaline; we were fired up and hungry. We wanted to bring a championship to the city. I felt like we did a great job of coming together and playing as a team. I definitely enjoyed the entire experience.

Young fans idolize you, largely because of your style of play. How does that make you feel?
I guess so [smiling]. A lot of moms and dads come up to me and tell me they appreciate the way I make plays in center field and the way I go about the game. They're always telling me that their little kids are getting into baseball now, too. That puts a smile on my face. I just try to go out there and get it done on the field and be the playmaker I know I can be.

If you were a young fan, would you enjoy watching yourself play?
I think I would, especially with all of my diving catches in the postseason. I don't think I've ever had that many opportunities to make diving or sliding catches before. They came one after another, and fortunately I was able to make them all. It was definitely a nice feeling and it came at the right moment on baseball's biggest stage.

Cain's great running catch

You never played Little League baseball. Do you think you missed out?
It's something I've thought about. But I understand the situation with my single mom; it would have been an extra burden on her. I decided not to worry her with it. I just helped around the house. Once things got a little easier and I was in high school, that's when I took full advantage and tried to play this game I love. I'm glad I got the chance to make the most out of it and get to the World Series. It's definitely been a thrill ride for me.

Rumor has it that you got cut from your high school basketball team. Tell us about that experience.
[Leans back and laughs] I definitely wasn't expecting it. It hurt when I didn't see my name on the list. Everything works out for a reason, though; if I had made the team, I would never have tried out for baseball. It has been a long journey, and it hasn't been easy. I had to learn fast or I wouldn't be here right now. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I have a great support system that has pushed me and motivated me to the fullest. Now I'm here on a big league team. It was definitely worth the wait.

Your high school coach said he was 90 percent sure that you had never played -- and maybe never even seen -- a baseball game before you tried out.
[Laughs] I had never watched baseball. It was just something I didn't pay attention to. My mom wouldn't let me play football, and now you know the story about me getting cut from the basketball team, so all that was left at my small high school was baseball. I had a buddy who played, and I asked him if there was any way I could make the team. They actually needed an extra guy on the JV squad, so it all worked out. I was kind of the savior of the season.

Is it true that you didn't even own a glove back then?
I did not. When I made the team I had to borrow everything: bat, glove, batting gloves, cleats. You name it, I borrowed it. It was difficult at first, but I had a lot of great friends on the team. And my coach took me home each and every day. A lot of people helped me along the way, I will say that.

Your mom, Patricia, taught you to be a humble guy. Is it hard to show humility after winning an ALCS MVP Award and playing in the World Series?
I don't think so. It's all about how you grew up and where you came from. A lot of people may put you on a pedestal, but I just go about it day by day and understand that it's work. I try to have a good time.

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Your best friend, Jeremy Haynes, told me that your diet in college used to consist of cookies & cream ice cream and Coco Puffs. True story?
Very true. I'm addicted to those foods and still eat them to this day. In college you're on a small budget, so it's ramen noodles, ice cream and cereal.

When it comes to music, you're an old-school guy. How did "Trap Queen" by Fetty Wap become your walk-up song?
I've got to mix it up now and then. Like you said, I am old-school: Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Satchmo, Temptations. [Trap Queen] is just the new-school.

Was it your idea to incorporate the number 1738 [a reference in the song to Remy Martin cognac] into all media answers?
Actually it was Moose's [Mike Moustakas] idea. We did it for a while and it was fun, but it's tough to do every time.

Last year, the team thrived on Archie Eversole's "We Ready." This year it's "Trap Queen." Is there going to be a theme song every season?
As long as this group is together. It's a tight group, and we try to find ways to have fun. I know we're not going to play together forever, so we just try to enjoy every moment and have fun. Right now we're just enjoying this run and making it last as long as we can.

Jeffrey Flanagan covers the Royals for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.