As the Cardinals finished a workout in preparation for Game 1 of the NLCS against the Giants, KMOX’s Tom Ackerman visited with outfielder Jon Jay about players who have inspired him – past and present.
TA: I remember in 2012, Carlos Beltran joins the team and in spring training you pulling up a chair next to him – you guys had lockers next to each other – and just watching you soak in knowledge. What did Carlos Beltran teach you about this time of year…and about baseball?
JJ: Carlos Beltran has been a big influence on my career. When he came in, he was all open-arms and he was great. We had the same goal, which is to win. What better guy to hang onto than him? He’s done it all, you know? We talked baseball, off-the-field stuff. It was always the same, as far as baseball: you work hard, you prepare and that gives you confidence. And what happens on the field, happens on the field.
TA: And Jon Jay now…is offering advice to younger players. The influence that you can have on a younger player is pretty important.
JJ: I’m just trying to do my part. Hopefully I can influence (them) the same way I’ve been influenced by Carlos Beltran, Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and all of these guys that are going to be Hall of Famers. That one day I’m going to brag that I played with them. If I can just do my part, that’s just part of the game.
TA: This game is humbling. It is a long, long grind. How do you get to this point, preparing yourself mentally for each of these games?
JJ: Well, that’s what this is all about. You’ve got to be mentally prepared. I try to cover all my “t’s” and “i’s” and make sure I’m prepared for the game. This is when the game gets fun. This is when everything’s worth it, from waking up early in the offseason, to spring training and grinding all of those months. This is what it’s all about…to get to this point.
TA: This is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World Champions. They won it again in ’67. The teams in the 80’s, the ’82 Cardinals, those pennant winners. A lot of great history. How much do you want to be part of that?
JJ: You want to represent the Birds on the Bat and you want to be part of that legacy. You want to be part of that history. When (people) say, ‘Oh, this guy was a Cardinal,’ you want to hopefully be (mentioned) in the same breath as all of those guys, all of those winners back then. And that’s what you look at them as. You look at the Bob Gibsons and the Lou Brocks and you consider them winners. That’s what they’re known as. Hopefully, you can be in that same sentence.
TA: The challenge of the San Francisco Giants. What do they present you in this series?
JJ: They’re a great team. I feel like they’re similar to us where they’re going to go out there and grind. They’re just going to find a way to get it done. So it’s going to be a fun series.