ON HIS LIVING QUARTERS AT PETCO PARK I have this condo at the Omni Hotel, which is right across from the ballpark, connected by a walkway. It's mainly for my mom and family when they come in, but I stay there sometimes. When John Moores, our owner, built the Omni, he put 11 floors of condos on top. It's the best view ever. Out my window you can see the Coronado Islands, Point Loma and all the way to Mexico. You can look down into the stadium and watch the ball game too.
ON THE CONVENIENCE OF SLEEPING AT THE BALLPARK I haven't gone down to take BP in my pajamas or anything, but it can make life easier, like if we have a day game after a night game. I can just head across the walkway after the night game, get some sleep, then roll out of bed the next morning and boom, I'm already at the ballpark. You can't beat that.
ON HIS LOVE OF SURFING I surfed a lot when I was growing up in Huntington Beach [Calif.]. I've been to Fiji, surfing off the island where they did the movie Cast Away. I took the A's Barry Zito there a couple of years ago. When I got traded to San Diego from the Braves [before the 2000 season], I started to meet local pro surfers, and they've taken me to neat spots in Mexico and Hawaii. Surfing keeps me in shape and keeps my mind clear. It's a great cardiovascular workout. Take somebody out who hasn't been surfing before, and they won't last 30 minutes with all the paddling.
ON THE RISKS OF SURFING It's in my contract that I'm allowed to surf, but I tend to stay away from the more dangerous waves, so I don't think the organization worries too much about me. I have been hit by some big waves though. In Hawaii a couple of years ago, I surfed 15-foot faces and it was pretty gnarly. I got tumbled around.
ON OTHER HOBBIES I'm a big outdoorsman. I've been all around the world hunting and fishing, pretty much any type you can name. Growing up I did a lot of bird hunting, and I've hunted everything else--wild boar, moose, deer, elk, turkey. John Smoltz and I own about 2,000 acres in Macon, Ga., from when I was with the Braves. We have a great lake on our property with deer and turkey running around.
ON HIS RESURGENCE AS A POWER HITTER AFTER HITTING ONLY NINE HOMERS LAST YEAR I had surgery on my right shoulder at the end of 2003, so I couldn't really work out during the off-season. I didn't really swing the bat until spring training last year, so going into '04 I just didn't have the strength. I had to use a bat that was a little shorter and a couple of ounces lighter than I normally use. But if you look at my numbers, I had a pretty good year--the walks, the average, the on-base percentage were all about normal, everything except for the power. Toward the end of last season I started getting my swing back, and now after a good off-season of working out I'm getting that good feeling of driving the ball again.
ON THE DIFFICULTY OF HITTING THE BALL OUT OF PETCO PARK WHICH IS AN UNPARALLELED 411 FEET TO RIGHT CENTERFIELD Everybody knows there's not going to be a lot of home runs hit there. Of course it's frustrating, and you're going to bitch about it. It's not just our club. You should hear other people who come in there, including umpires. They tell me, 'Man, I feel sorry for you guys trying to drive the ball out of this yard.' Is it disappointing when you hit a ball about 405 feet and it's an out? Yes. But we made a pact as a team that we weren't going to worry about it the way we did last year. Crush a ball and it dies on the [warning] track? Forget about it. Move on.
ON THE PADRES' PLAYOFF CHANCES We knew that we were good last year, when we surprised everybody and stayed in the race right to the end. It's a tough division, but you look at our team and you really don't see any big holes there. Our biggest strength is that we expect to win.
ON HIS OFF-SEASON PLANS I'm going to Europe to do some hunting, and I'm lining up other trips. You can probably tell I'm not the type to sit home watching TV.
--As told to Phil Taylor
THE 6'3" 220-POUND KLESKO, 34, LEADS THE FIRST-PLACE PADRES (34-23) WITH 10 HOME RUNS
"Michael Jordan had Jumpman. I have Swingman."
--Ken Griffey Jr., Reds CF
Into the Wood, page 42
"I'VE BEEN SURFING OFF THE ISLAND WHERE THEY DID THE MOVIE CAST AWAY."
Photograph by Robert Beck
COURTESY OF OMNI SAN DIEGO (HOTEL)
STAN LIU/ICON SMI (KLESKO PLAYING)
JOSH MERWIN/BEIMAGES SPORTS (GRIFFEY JR.)