Actually Marcell Ozuna spent well over 30 minutes on a conference call with some members of the St. Louis media, but here’s five minutes of reading and audio highlights of the conversation…
What was his reaction to be traded to St. Louis?
“I was nervous–not in a bad way, some anxiety because it is a change that is going to affect my family,” said Ozuna, as translated by St. Louis Cardinals Assistant General Manager Moises Rodriguez. “My wife got a little emotional, but once we were able to talk through the situation, everybody’s happy now and ready to move forward.”
“I’ve always known the Cardinals to be competitors, grinders all the way to the end. They always seem to be in the mix and in position to win. I’m very excited to join that.”
Initially, Ozuna didn’t even think that he was going to be traded. It wasn’t the first time his name had been rumored as part of a deal and none had come to fruition. But as the off-season wore on, things began to change.
“When the rumors and what was being published was more frequent and seemed to be on the news every night, then I started to get a little nervous,” said Ozuna. “In the past, Carlos and Yadi had joked around with me they were going to bring me to the Cardinals, we joked around back and forth. That nervousness went away when I started to reflect on this little encounters and exchanges with Carlos and Yadi–if I’m being traded to the Cardinals, at least I’m being traded to a group of guys that I know. And that anxiety and sort of nervousness went away.”
Over the last couple of seasons, Ozuna had put up respectable numbers but not close to the 37 home runs and 124 runs driven in that were career highs this year. What was the biggest difference for him in 2017?
“Last off-season, coming into 2017 was really helpful for me,” he explained. “I feel my focus was a little more sharp this year and I just attribute the 2017 season to a lot of the work I did leading up to it. That truly has been what was critical for that result.”
And while much of the focus has been on his hitting ability, Ozuna also won a Rawlings Gold Glove in left this year to go with his Silver Slugger. Which meant more?
“Both, really,” he answered. “You always have goals of seeking whatever awards are out there in different areas. I really don’t have a preference. They both mean a lot. Both the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove are great accomplishments.”
Has the defense required as much work or has it been more natural to succeed in?
“Defensively, it’s always something I felt I could do without a ton of work,” answered Ozuna. “Offensively, obviously hitting is difficult. That’s something that you’re always tweaking and working it. Definitely more work on the offensive end than defense.”
In Miami, Ozuna wore number 48 and more recently 13. Will he attempt to make a deal with Matt Carpenter for the digits or go with a new number?
“I’m not really paying attention to that at the moment, but if I need a new number I’d probably go with the birthday number of my last kid that was born. Maybe number 23.”
–Marcell Ozuna first met Carlos Martinez in 2010 during Spring Training. They’ve always stayed in touch and respect each other, try to help each other. They last saw each other about a month ago, celebrating Marcell’s birthday.
–He didn’t know Oscar Taveras until pro baseball. They played against each other one year in Winter Ball, both competing to be the top rookie.
–No preference on where he bats in the lineup, just wants to be in there.
photo credit: Jasen Vinlove, Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports