Donaldson reacts to blockbuster trade

Here is the full transcript of Saturday morning’s conference call between a group of reporters and the Blue Jays new third baseman Josh Donaldson:

Initial shock of being traded…
“Like you said, there was definitely a lot of shock. It was something at the time, that was a little ahead of schedule as far as being traded. But then like you said, you start moving past that, you start looking at the capability of this lineup, the potential it brings, I would venture to say that there’s probably not going to be another lineup as potent as this in Major League Baseball.”

How he found out about the deal…
“I reside in Alabama and I was up in my man cave up there, playing some old school Mortal Kombat and watching the Golf Channel at the same time. I looked out to my right and my phone started exploding. I had to check it out and the first text I see was ‘Blue Jays?’ and the first thing I thought was, yep, I just got traded.”

Any idea after the season a deal was coming…
“Honestly I had heard some things about being traded after we were put out of the Wild Card game. Did I actually think it was going to happen this offseason? No, I didn’t think that.”

Modeling swing after Bautista…
“In 2012, at the beginning of the season, was really the first time I’ve been able to see my swing on video and the first time I watched it on film. In my mind, this isn’t what my swing looked like. So then I started looking for guys that I felt were comparables as far as body type, as far as what I thought I could do, as far as production, as far as hitting. Bautista was a
guy, at that time time was doing big things and is still doing big things, so I definitely had thought about him a lot. I’ve probably watched over 1,000 hours and Bautista swinging and really tried to learn.

“I’m not exactly, with the leg lift and everything, we don’t do everything the exact same. But what I try to do is I try to do what he was successful with and a couple of other guys in the big leagues that were very successful and try to
create something of my own.”

Did you speak with Bautista about that and have you spoken to him since the deal?
“I haven’t spoken to him yet, I’m sure we’ll get around to that. But I spoke to him at the All-Star Game and let him know that I studied a lot of his work and that I really appreciate what he had accomplished up to this point in his career. In some ways, it’s almost the same kind of story for us a little bit. He was somewhat of a journeyman Major Leaguer until he landed in
Toronto. I was labeled as four-A Triple-A and then kind of breaking out a little bit in 2012 towards the end of the season. Then, in 2013, kind of putting it together.”

Transition from catcher to third base…
“When I went to college at Auburn University I was a third baseman before I was a catcher. I began catching my sophomore year of college and I was doing both. I was catching and playing third, ended up getting drafted by the Chicago Cubs, became nothing but a catcher at the time. Then I got traded in 2008 to the A’s and then I began in 2011, because we had three guys, three catchers on our roster, and we only had, I want to say nine position players, I had to go play an infield position. I ended up playing third base because we were short a third baseman really. I took to it okay and the winter of 2011, I went to the Dominican Republic, I wanted to go play third base for the winter because I wanted to open up my options other than catching. 2012, starting third baseman at the time goes down with a knee injury, I was able to fill in and the A’s gave me an opportunity a couple of times and I was able to take advantage of it. Very comfortable over there and I’ve been able to put in the work and the hours to make it feel natural over there again.”

What did Anthopoulos have to say to you…
“He liked the fact that, obviously I have some power, my strikeout to walk rate is pretty good and he likes the fact that in the past two years I’ve played in 158 games. I think the most important thing, ever since I was five-years-old my teams have won. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily just me that’s causing that but I think there’s a mentality about winning. Most
guys, not comparing myself to Michael Jordan at all, but when you were on Michael Jordan’s team you were going to win because he would instill that mentality, he was a great player. I hope to just come in and fill that winning mentality in guys. Also, you’re getting a Russell Martin, who’s a winner. I feel like this team is going to be so talented. It’s going to be nice and it’s also going to be interesting to see what happens because I feel like it’s going to be a pretty fun year.”

First big-league home run in Toronto…
“That’s another great thing about Toronto, for myself personally. That’s where I did hit my first Major League home run, off Dana Eveland in 2010. I remember getting that call, being called up to the big leagues for the first time. I was on a red eye all morning, I got into Toronto at like 10 o’clock in the morning and was able to get into the game later in about the eighth
inning or so. Then the next day I was able to start and was able to hit a game winning home run against Dana Eveland that day.”

Traded once before. 2008 Donaldson, does he resemble at all the current player?
“No. I don’t think that would really be natural. One thing I’ve always said, if you’re not getting better, there’s no staying the same. If you’re not getting better you’re going to get worse. So, for me, I’ve always tried to stay up to date with my body. I’ve always tried to stay focused on my swing, taking ground balls, trying to be a perfectionist to the point where letting
it out in a game, everything takes place where you don’t have to think about certain things. That’s just how I’ve always been.”

What else do you remember about that first big-league experience in Toronto…
“Well, at the time, I was in Triple-A before that. There were eight or nine guys and they had just, there was no money on this or anything, but we played in a fantasy baseball league. I remember I had three or four Blue Jays in my lineup that day and then I was catching the next day. I was like, this can’t happen anymore … I remember Toronto is a great place, a great
city. It’s just one of those melting pots where you kind of have a little bit of everything in Toronto. Every time I have been there it has been very beautiful and I’ve enjoyed my time.”

What do you think going to Rogers Centre will do for you…
“I can only think it’s going to benefit. Oakland, the dimensions aren’t very big, but at the same time it plays very big … I think there were about 14 balls that I hit this year I thought were homers and ended up not going out in Oakland. With that being said, I think a lot more hits will be out there available, with it being on the turf, the gaps will be a little bit bigger. Offensively, I’m definitely looking forward to hitting in the Rogers Centre for sure.”

Thoughts on Blue Jays organization…
“When we went up to Toronto they swept us. We saw the Toronto Blue Jays playing at their best at that time and we walked away knowing that was a really good ball team. When they came to Oakland, unfortunate incident of Edwin Encarnacion getting hurt in the first game there. You can definitely tell when he was not in the lineup, there was a missing link in the lineup but at the same time they were still very competitive. I think Bautista has definitely solidified himself as one of the best outfielders and hitters in all of baseball. When you have a guy at that kind of level you just hope the guys around him are going to contribute a little bit … We felt like they were a great organization, but at the same time, I remember as a young boy, Joe Carter hit the game-winning home run, jumping around the basepaths like a little kid, that’s another memory I have of the Blue Jays.”

Get the sense from Alex that the Jays are going for it?
“I 100 percent can say they’re trying to win right now and what they’re also trying to do is prepare themselves for the future. Russell Martin has a long-term deal, I’m not exactly sure where Edwin and Jose are at, with Stroman and a couple of guys on that staff, they have a young nucleus of pitchers who are talented and very good. I definitely think that the elements are there to win, it’s just about going out there and playing the game and at the end of the day getting a W.”

Playing on the turf and adjustments you may have to make…
“It definitely will take some getting used to. With that being said, I had already made adjustments during the three-game series that we were there. I would switch my cleats whenever I was on defense, to whenever I would hit, in order to kind of take away that pounding off the turf. It helps. For the third game I played there in a row, I was definitely starting to feel that I
was playing on turf and then whenever I decided, hey I’m going to start changing my shoes from defense to offense it really made a significant difference in how my body was feeling and everything. It will take some getting used to, I definitely feel like I can do, and I will do it, so I really feel like it will be a non issue.”

Retro video game fan?
“I just started getting back into that. I don’t know if I’m going back to my kid days, but it definitely brought back some memories. I bought an old Nintendo, I’ve got about 20 games for it, a Super Nintendo. It has been fun, going back and living back to those childhood days, playing those games. So I guess to answer your question, yeah.”

Over the shock now?
“I’m still a little shocked. I’ll tell you what, I saw something on Twitter that somebody put me in one of those Toronto Blue Jays uniforms, the all white. I’ll tell you what, those uniforms are pretty sexy.”

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