Spotlight Interview originally published by Ocean View Press in
Dave Roberts of the Boston Red Sox
by Paul Stanish
Interview with Red Sox World Champion Dave Roberts!!!
Dave Roberts came to the Boston Red Sox in July of 2004. He was involved in a trade with the Dodgers for a minor league pitcher. He was the forgotten man in the trades from that week because Nomar Garciaparra, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Orlando Cabrera grabbed all of the headlines.
In the playoffs, Dave Roberts played a huge role off the bench. In game 4 of the A.L.C.S. vs. the Yankees, he was the catalyst by stealing base after base and then scoring an important run off of Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning. He literally changed the complexion of that series and helped lead the Red Sox to the greatest comeback in baseball history.
In this short interview, Dave talks about what it means to be a World Series champion. He expressed his feelings about being traded to the Red Sox and how he feels about the L.A. Dodgers. He commented on Red Sox manager Terry Francona, and what strategy he used against Mariano Rivera to successfully steal a base off of him.
Paul: How long have you been playing baseball?
D. R.: I’ve been playing since I was 5 years old, but professionally I’ve been playing since 1994. I originally signed with the Detroit Tigers. I played with them for 4 years, then I got traded to the Cleveland Indians. Then I made my big league debut in 1999. Then I got traded to the Dodgers in the winter of 2002. I played there for 2 ? years and then I was traded to the Red Sox.
Paul: What position did you play growing up? Did you always want to be an outfielder?
D.R.: I actually played first base when I was younger because I was one of the few guys who could catch a baseball. You always wanted the guys who catch a baseball in the infield. So I played first base and one year that I played shortstop. You don’t see too many left-handers playing shortstop. As I got older I started playing centerfield and I grew up pretty much playing centerfield.
Paul: Who was your favorite manager to play for?
D.R.: Without a doubt it was Terry Francona. Not only because we won the World Series this year, but he was just a very laid back manager. He really let the players play. I think that’s really important. We all loved him and played hard for him. We had a good time. He made us relax.
Paul: What does it mean to win a World Series in Boston? Has it even set in yet?
D.R.: No it hasn’t set in. Me being from the west coast and not having to endure 86 years of heartache, I can’t do it justice trying to explain it. I’m just so happy to be a part of it and just to help this city, with the best fans in the world get what they deserve, the world championship.
Paul: Dave, you wouldn’t have been here if Trot Nixon wasn’t injured. Do you have any comments on that or on general manager Theo Epstein?
D.R.: You’re absolutely correct!!! The injury did bring me here. That had been discussed in the clubhouse on occasion.
Theo accounted for every piece of the puzzle. It’s amazing that he is so young and so successful.
Paul: How excited were you about coming to Boston in July?
D.R.: Honestly, initially I was upset. I was leaving home, which is in southern California. We had something pretty special in L.A. as far as leading the division. I was just so surprised. It was unexpected. I felt a little bit betrayed because I was a part of something the past few years and I didn’t get a chance to see it to the end.
After talking to my wife and realizing what a great city Boston is and realizing the opportunity I would have there. Then I became pretty excited about being here.
Paul: Can you talk about the base running/stealing experience from a September game against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera? What is it like to steal against Mariano Rivera? What did you learn from that experience that allowed you to successfully steal a base off of him in the playoffs?
D.R.: Yeah. Trot Nixon had an at bat on a Friday night game in September. We were down 2-1, in Yankee stadium, in the 9th inning and Nixon got on base. That was my first opportunity to be on base with Mariano Rivera in the game. So he had a sequence where he held the ball on me. So after he did that one time, then I knew he was going to do it again. I ended up stealing the base. I think Kevin Millar got hit by a pitch the next at bat. Cabrera got a base hit to right field and I scored the tying run. It turned out to be a blown save for Mariano.
I knew that come the playoffs, if I get the same type of opportunity he (Rivera) would try the same strategy against me as far as holding the ball to hold me on 1st. Sure enough, I get in there, he picked over 3 times. This is after I look at Terry Francona before I go in the game and he gives me a wink to tell that you’re on your own kind.
So after he picked over 3 times, I got into the flow of the game. I got my heart rate going, my “juices” going and my adrenaline going. I knew the time he went to the plate, though, he would try and hold the ball. I think the sequence in September allowed me to remember what he would try to do so I could be successful. The rest is history.