05/08/2007 12:45 PM ET
Q&A with Bill Hall of the Brewers
By Jon Greenberg / MLBPLAYERS.com
Bill Hall had the best season of his young career in 2006, hitting .270 with 35 home runs and 85 RBIs. Originally projected to be a utility infielder, he wound up starting 126 games at shortstop (116 for the injured J.J. Hardy), 10 games at third base, four games at second base and three games in center field. After the season, he was asked to move to center field and then signed a four-year contract. The 27-year-old Mississippi native is now a key player in the Brewers' rise in the National League Central:
Ozzie Smith was Bill Hall's favorite player growing up. (Jeffrey Phelps/AP)
MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you think of yourself as a center fielder yet? Is it a tough adjustment still?
Hall: No, I've definitely adjusted to being a center fielder now. Being called a utility player over the last couple years, I don't want that. I've got a position and I'm here for five years, so I pretty much know I'm playing center field. So it's pretty easy to call myself a center fielder now.
MLBPLAYERS.com: To go from a utility player to signing that new deal, hitting cleanup and playing center, is it tough to keep your edge? Do you still feel like you have something to prove?
Hall: I don't think I have anything to prove. I just need to go out and have fun. People tend to put pressure on themselves when they sign a new contract, or get a new position. I'm not doing that. I'm fortunate enough that we've got a lot of guys who can carry this team at any given moment. It takes a lot of pressure off me, and a lot of pressure off other players. We all know it's not up to us to try and win a game every day for our ballclub.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you ever have those dreams where you're back playing shortstop?
Hall: Nah, I grew up as a shortstop and I'll always love shortstop. Maybe I'll play shortstop again, maybe I won't. But it was fun while it lasted.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a new outfielder, do you use a lot of scouting to know where to position yourself? Do you listen to your coaches' instructions or do you just use a lot of instinct out there?
Hall: A little bit of everything. I do a lot of studying to know where to play guys, where they hit most of the balls. You kind of learn the hitter yourself. When the big hitters get into a hitter's count, they're more likely to pull the ball or drive the ball. You have to use your instinct and knowledge of the game. You have to move around on your own and make a play for your team. It all starts in BP. I walk around and gauge the wind and see how fly balls play. I'm learning that more and more and I'm seeing new hitters all the time. It's an adjustment, but hopefully I'm learning fast and I'll know all these hitters soon.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you listen to veteran left fielder Geoff Jenkins a lot out there to get acclimated?
Hall: As a center fielder, I'm the captain, so he usually listens to me. I've got the notecard in my back pocket, so I know where to go in certain situations and where to put people. I have to go on instinct sometimes and I have to take those guys with me. So when I move, they know they have to move too.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What's your favorite play -- a diving catch or leaping at the wall?
Hall: I haven't robbed a home run yet. I've had a few chances and came close a couple times. That's really fun when you can get up at the wall and get high and make a play for the team.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Who's your favorite contemporary and all-time center fielder?
Hall: Obviously, you've got to look at Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter. They're kind of the running Gold Gloves out there in center right now. I got an opportunity to play with Andruw in Japan and we talked a little bit about me moving to center field. I talked to Torii as well. Those guys gave me a lot of information to help me prepare. Growing up a shortstop, Ozzie Smith is my favorite player. Now I'm taking a liking to older center fielders and trying to figure out who I like the most. Maybe Willie Mays. He was my dad's favorite player, so I always had to like him, too.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Why are the Brewers going to compete this season? The team has been playing well early, but why should your fans think it will continue?
Hall: We have good depth this year and a good starting rotation. Most importantly, everybody's healthy. We've always had problems keeping guys healthy and not having anybody fill the void. We feel like we have guys to fill those voids now, if necessary, but the main core of the team is healthy. We just feel like if we play good baseball and stay healthy, we'll be there in the end.
Jon Greenberg is a freelance writer based in Chicago.