In a lineup filled with sluggers, outfielder Shelley Duncan contributed to New York's high-powered offense by slugging seven home runs with 17 RBIs in just 74 at-bats as a rookie. Duncan, whose upbeat personality was credited for bringing some light-hearted youthfulness to the Yankees' veteran clubhouse, had two hits in three postseason at-bats. He recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Are you the type of player who replays your performance over and over in your head?
Duncan: Over the winter is the time for me to really sit down and reflect. But during the season, my focus is on the next game and what I have to do that game. I am about looking forward. I think that is the best way to keep an even keel attitude. It also allows me to not focus on the success or the failures. I try not to get too high or too low.
MLBPLAYERS.com: A good percentage of your hits this season were home runs. Is power a big part of your game?
Duncan: I don't know. I sort of let other people judge me as a player. I just go out there and have the same approach. Things then happen. I don't try to be someone who I'm not. I try and concentrate on the little things that will make me successful.
MLBPLAYERS.com: After some of those home runs, you have showed a great deal of emotion. Is that a big part of your personality?
Duncan: I think so. I try to have a lot of fun playing this game and I'm really competitive. I love to be a part of a team, and even though I didn't play a whole lot, I love to be a part of the wins. It's a lot of fun when you and your teammates do well, and it's a lot of fun to win ballgames.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a young outfielder, it seems difficult to find playing time when you have guys like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreu playing ahead of you?
Duncan: I guess so, but I don't worry about it too much. Preparing yourself to be ready every single day is the biggest key. When Joe Torre did call upon me at any given moment, I wanted to be ready and confident I would get the job done. The Yankees always have a really good team here all the way down to the bench. It's a lot of fun because you have confidence in everyone on your team.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Was this the first time in your career that you have not played on an everyday basis?
Duncan: Yes, it was. It's different, but I tried to prepare myself as if I was going to play every day. That gives me added confidence. When I don't start, I am still preparing myself during the game if, and when, I get the call.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Your brother, Chris, plays for the Cardinals and your dad, Dave, is that club's pitching coach. How often do you watch their games?
Duncan: Whenever they're on TV I try and watch the game. If I can't see the game, then I definitely check out the highlights.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How often do you talk to them during the season?
Duncan: Every single day I probably talk to at least one of them. We all have a good relationship and it's not just about baseball. We are very close.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Your dad was a catcher in the big leagues and now he is a pitching coach. What do you remember about that transition in his life/career?
Duncan: That was something that happened before I was born, but having talked to him about it, I have come to realize just how intelligent he is as it relates to pitching. He understands them, likes to talk pitching and that's a trait he has passed down to me. He always has an open mind and you can learn a lot from him.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Away from Yankee Stadium, what do you find yourself doing in your spare time when you are in the city?
Duncan: There is so much to do there. I can't pinpoint one thing in particular. I have one of those tourist books that tell you everywhere to go, but I haven't cracked it open yet. We don't have much time with our schedule. Just leaving the hotel and walking around is fun.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Has there been a player on your team or on an opposing team that you really looked forward to playing with or against?
Duncan: Alex Rodriguez is someone I have really paid attention to. I watch his approach to the game and his will to win. He plays real hard and he works real hard. I look up to how he goes about his business. He's been great to me and answered all of my questions.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Assuming you go on to have a long career at this level like Rodriguez has, is it safe to assume then that you too will be active in talking to the younger players and helping them in any way that you can?
Duncan: Absolutely. It's something that I appreciate no matter what level I'm at. At Triple-A, Ron Villone and Andy Phillips really looked out for me and I looked up to them. I don't think I would be a Yankee today if it were not for their advice and help. I look forward to doing the same down the road one day.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.