Former Orioles 2B Jerry Hairston Jr spent his first 11 years in the major leagues-seven of them with Baltimore-without ever seeing the postseason, but over the last three years he has certainly made up for that lost time before his career comes to an end.
Hairston, 35, is currently an infielder for the NL-central champs, the Milwaukee Brewers, and his team currently is in the mix for a trip to the NLCS should they defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth and deciding game.
Hairston is currently hitting .444 against Arizona, and after coming over from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline, he gave the Brewers that veteran utility player and presence-finished 2011 hitting .270 with 5 HRs and 31 RBIs in 120 games of action and 337 at-bats.
Playing October baseball is something that has rejuvenated Hairston, and he joined Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Tuesday to chat about this year’s opportunity to hopefully grab a World Series ring with the Brewers.
“There’s nothing like postseason baseball,” Hairston said. “I mean obviously playing in the big leagues for many years and playing the regular season is definitely a thrill, but once you get to the postseason and have a taste of it, you want to go back every year.”
In a sense, Hairston is kind of greedy. Despite not reaching the playoffs until 2009, he ultimately did get his first World Series ring as a member of the New York Yankees organization on his first try.
He just hopes that he can contribute and help his teammates and the franchise-which has no championships to their record-earn that elusive prize that he was granted with.
“I was very fortunate to play on a Yankees team that won a World Series and obviously being on this team this year, it’s been a great experience and hopefully it will be able to continue,” Hairston told Clark.
He feels like the team they have in place is built for a championship run, and he credits his manager, Ron Roenicke, for helping them to put that talent together.
“He’s kind of a laid back guy, but he’s intense now,” said Hairston. “He never really has a whole lot to say, but when he says it, he really means it so he’s definitely the perfect guy for this club. Obviously, the characters we have, have done a great job of letting us be ourselves, and he’s definitely in line for Manager of the Year.”
Hairston left the Orioles via a trade in 2005 that brought Sammy Sosa to Baltimore, and while that seems like years ago and several stops ago, he does hold a special place in his heart for Charm City and hopes that they soon can experience what Brewers fans are enjoying right now.
“When I first came up, Camden Yards was always packed. I know the last couple of years have been really rough in Baltimore but…that’s how the Milwaukee Brewers fan-base has become.”
In order for the Orioles to contribute next season, they are obviously going to have to dip into the free agent pool and get players that can match up against the elite of the AL East.
One of those players that Oriole fans are yearning for is 1B Prince Fielder, and Hairston said fans are in the right for demanding his services in an orange and black uniform.
“He’s definitely a joy to be around,” Hairston said. “He’s a very intense competitor. I mean he plays every single day, doesn’t want to take days off, and he wants the bat in his hand when the game is on the line.”
“He’s just one of those guys that is always clutch and you want as a teammate, but the biggest thing about him is that I was kind of unaware he’s a pretty good first baseman. ”
Hairston also passed along his wishes toward the man that pushed him out of Baltimore, Brian Roberts, who he considers a friend despite their competition years ago for the same position.
Roberts and Hairston see each other every off-season at home in Arizona, and Hairston told Oriole Nation to be patient with Roberts despite his injury concerns because the guy loves Baltimore.
“I know he’s gone through a lot the last year-and-a-half with his back and many different injuries, and the concussion. It’s tough, as you get a little older, you get more nagging injuries. And I know Brian, if healthy, wants to be out there playing. I’m hoping Brian gets back and ready to go for next year.”
And when it comes to his own future, Hairston said he’ll keep playing as long as teams want him and he continues to have fun doing so.
“I have been, especially the last couple of years,” Hairston replied. “You know I really enjoyed playing baseball and hopefully I’ll get the chance to a couple more years.”
“It’s been a great journey. I been very fortunate to play on different teams in different cities, from San Diego to D.C, to Baltimore, New York, Texas, Chicago. I’ve seen the spectrum of this country and different organizations, and so I’ve had fun at every stop and I really enjoyed my career.”
WNST thanks Jerry Hairston Jr. for joining us and is rooting for him in the playoffs! Once an Oriole…always an Oriole. WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports