A month after helping the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in a thrilling seven-game set, outfielder Jon Jay was back in the weight room for the first time Thursday to begin preparing for another title run next season.
Jay took a few minutes Thursday to chat about the World Series, how he's spent the last month and the Cardinals chances of repeating again in 2012.
FSMidwest: Has it sunk in yet that you are a World Champion?
Jay: I don't know. It's just been weird. I guess not, haha. Not really. Everywhere I go, people are fired up and congratulating me but I don't think it's sunk in. It was just a crazy run with how everything went, being down 2-1 to Philly and then going to Milwaukee and then the World Series and being down 3-2. I plan on having my buddies over in the next few weeks and watching all the highlights and go through all the games because I haven't really had the time to do that.
FS Midwest: So you haven't seen any highlights or watched a replay of any of the playoff games?
Jay: I haven't seen anything. I've been so busy running around and traveling and going different places and I started working out today officially so Im' going to get back in the swing of things and in the next two weeks I'll try to watch everything.
FSMidwest: How different has this offseason been compared to others?
Jay: It's a hundred times different. First of all, that extra month we played in the playoffs was awesome and great, but that kind of delayed everything as far as workouts go because usually I start in the middle of November so that got pushed back a little bit. Just going around and seeing everybody and my family and being at home here in Miami, I can't even explain how crazy its been. It's been nice. I went to the U (University of Miami), I went to my high school, it's just been a lot of fun.
FSMidwest: You mentioned starting your workouts later than usual this year because the season went longer?
Jay: I'm definitely starting later than usual. I took a good four weeks off. I learned a lot after the 2009 season and before my rookie year in 2010 because I went to Venezuela straight after the Triple-A season when we won the championship there and I only took a week off that year and got right back into it which was something I learned from because I think I got kind of tired down at the end of the year in 2012, just mentally. You need that mental break sometimes and I didn't have it so this year I took four weeks off. I was happy to get back in the wight room and back to running and getting in shape again.
FSMidwest: You worked out back at the University of Miami, right? Any other players down there working out with you?
Jay: We've got Yonder Alonzo from the Reds, Manny Machado, a top prospect with the Orioles, a couple other guys. We got a good group and some Miami baseball players and the football team is working out in there so its nice. I felt great. I felt awesome. I told these guys they had been working out for a month so I thought they were going to blow me away but I was the one showing them up out there.
FSMidwest: You recently got engaged. Congratulations on that.
Jay: Thanks. It's been an unbelievable year with everything and I was happy to do that. I'm really happy about that, me and my fiance. She was definitely surprised. It was nice how it all worked out, but now its time to get ready for the season.
FSMidwest: You hoster a party in Miami with a shoe company down there where you signed autographs and interacted with fans. How was that?
Jay: It was nice. It went well. I just wanted to do something at home where people could come out and say hi and sign some autographs. We had a DJ and it was like a celebratory party down here. I was surprised how many St. Louis fans were down here, either students at the U or people who were fans. A lot of people came out and said hi, it was a lot of fun. I'm currently planning a charity bowling event for January.
FSMidwest: Looking back at the season, when you guys were 10.5 games out in August, did you guys think it was over?
Jay: I honestly didn't think it was over because you know how baseball is, anything can happen, like we saw. When you look at the guys we had around, these are guys that aren't going to give in and quit and Tony always preaches, from Carp to Albert and just the whole team. That was something special this year, We were all on the same page and had the same goals, which was to win. It didn't matter who was starting and who was doing what role, we never had anyone complaining and we just enjoyed being at the field and I think that was a big key this year.
FSMidwest: When did you start to realize that you guys had a chance?
Jay: Once we started gaining ground, every time we got a game closer, a game closer, we could feel it in the clubhouse. We had no pressure on us. We just went out there and had fun and played good baseball. Obviously we were paying attention to the Braves but we knew we had to take care of our business first and luckily everything worked out for us.
FSMidwest: So many games and moments stand out from the playoff run. What's the one that stands out most to you?
Jay: Every game was crazy, honestly. Just going into Philly with that pitching staff they have, that lineup they have, that bullpen, I mean they had a great team, the best record in baseball and we were able to go in there and pull it out, that was big. Then the same thing with Milwaukee, they had a great offense with Braun and Prince and all the other guys and we were able to go in there to their place where they are almost unbeatable and be able to take some games from them there. Then the Rangers, we both had great teams. It was just a crazy, crazy playoffs. It was just amazing what we did.
FSMidwest: How many times in Game 6 did you think you had lost?
Jay: I honestly didn't think we were done. Its not over until its over and I always tell everybody at home who asks that but you look at the field and you look in the dugout and our reactions, we never gave up we never had that slouch or body language where it was like, Oh man this is over'. We just believed and believed and kept fighting.
FSMidwest: How cool was it to be a part of a game like that, one that will be talked about forever?
Jay: Definitely. It was great. I have so many people telling me that they never watch baseball but they watched us in the World Series because it was so crazy and just to be a part of history and you look at our team, with Albert and Matt and Yadi and Carp and just go around and look at what they've done in their careers, for me to be a part of it, it was something special for me.
FSMidwest: Have you ever been a part of a team that was so close? It just seemed like you guys all really liked each other?
Jay: It's been a while, not since college. And in 2009 in Memphis we had a similar season but I've never seen anything like this year, where everybody got a long and it was just a lot of fun to show up to the ballpark every day. It was just a great group of guys and we all gelled.
FSMidwest: What was that like when Tony La Russa called you guys into the weight room after the parade and told you he was retiring?
Jay: It was definitely a weird feeling because we thought it was going to be a normal tony speech, 'We won the Series and enjoy the time off and get ready for next year', stuff like that, but it caught all of us by surprise. Everyone was shocked. It was a weird feeling. Everybody was shocked and it was just weird.
FSMidwest: What was your reaction when you heard Mike Matheny got the job?
Jay: I'm happy because I've never heard a bad thing about Mike. Everybody knows his reputation and how hard he played and how hard he worked and I've seen him at Spring Training working with the catchers at 5am. I've gotten to know him a little bit over the years and I've always had great conversations and I'm looking forward to playing under him. I feel like we have a pretty good relationship but it can definitely grow. I'm just excited about the direction we're going. Honestly with Carp and Lance and all the veterans we have coming back, we have a pretty good system in place.
FSMidwest: What are your thoughts on the club's chances of repeating?
Jay: I think we have a good chance and that's what you want going into spring training. We're going to have a chance to get back to the playoffs and see what happens. Everybody is excited.
FSMidwest: When you win it all, does it make you even hungrier to do it again?
Jay: Definitely. The feeling you get and how you are received by everyone, it's just awesome to accomplish such a big goal like that. I'm really looking forward to next season and taking it one day at a time and hopefully going on another run again.