Posted at 8:19 PM on April 3, 2007
by David Zingler
It's about 5:45 on Tuesday, I am heading up the long stairway leading from the field to the Twins clubhouse after taking in a little batting practice. I notice a beefy gentleman just a few steps ahead of me. He is donning a sleeveless t-shirt, work-out shorts and flip-flops with socks. Wait, is that...yes, it is Sidney Ponson.
Should I say anything, I think to myself. After all, this is the same guy who spent 11 days in jail for punching out a judge in his native Aruba a couple of years ago. And I've written some less-than-flattering things about him lately.
What's the worst he can do, the voice inside my head asks. Besides there's zero chance that he's read The Bleacher Bums lately.
"Are you liking Minnesota?" I finally blurt out.
"Yeah," the 30-year-old says in pretty friendly tone. "Except that it's always cold and gray."
"It'll warm up," I respond.
Not convinced, Ponson replies, "When, July?"
Jesse Crain, who is right behind us, cracks a smile.
I then try to move the conversation beyond weather-related small talk. I ask the controversial right-hander if he has time for a few questions. He obliges, leads me to his locker and we sit down for a quick chat:
DZ: Things haven't gone the way you'd like in the past couple of years, how did you approach spring training this year?
PONSON: Just go out there, do my job, be in shape, get ready to pitch (and) every time I get the ball to go out there and get people out.
DZ: You switched teams a couple times last year, how do you stay positive going through that?
PONSON: A game is a game, meeting new people, (you) get close to your teammates and get to know them -- stuff like that. It's the same game, you have to go out there, throw strikes (and) keep the ball down in the zone. Hopefully you win ball games.
DZ: You say you've been misunderstood by the fans and the media, what would you want people to know about you that isn't out there?
PONSON: I don't want nobody to know nothing about me basically. You guys have to do your job, I have to do my job. The only thing I have to worry about is what my teammates and coaches think about me. You don't come in here and tell me nothing about you, that's part of it. I understand where you guys come from and ask questions and that. Sometimes I say things that, you know, if you sit down and think about it, it's not the right thing to say, but that's the way I am. I am a straightforward guy and that's why I get misunderstood.
DZ: It's always more fun if you get along with people, right?
PONSON: I get along to a certain point. I've got nothing against nobody. If I feel I've been mistreated, I'll say it once. If people keep writing stuff about it, we'll see how I will handle it."
DZ: I take it, you are not really into reading newspapers and stuff like that.
PONSON: Not really. I get into a lot of trouble if I do read papers. Everybody has their own opinion, and I respect that. I just go about my business, work hard and joke with my teammates. That's about it. When it comes to talking to the media, I joke with some of them that I've know for a long time. Mainly, I don't though.