The Royals first broached the idea of moving me to the outfield in September last year when we were discussing plans for my shoulder surgery. At first, I wasn't real pumped up about it because I considered third base to be my position.
But I understand that the club wants both me and Alex Gordon in the middle of the lineup for a long time to come, so we needed to find a way to get that done.
I've never played the outfield before, not even in Little League. I was always a shortstop while growing up. It's new to me outside of messing around with it a little in batting practice from time to time. It's not totally foreign, I guess, but it's fair to say I've been learning a lot this spring, so I've been getting extra work out there five out of seven days a week and taking advantage of batting practice to get a feel for reading the ball off the bat against live pitching. I'm also trying to pick the brains of guys like Reggie Sanders and David DeJesus and all of the other guys who can help me a little bit.
Each day I'm feeling a little more comfortable. We do a number of different drills but batting practice is especially important because what I really need to work at is getting reads off the live batted ball. That's something you're only going to get a good handle on from repetitions. There's no shortcut. You learn from tracking hundreds of balls.
It's tough making the transition at the big league level but at least I knew all winter that it was going to happen and I wasn't taken by surprise when I came to camp. I worked on it during the offseason as best I could and now I'm trying to accelerate the learning process here in Spring Training.
The game definitely has a different feel when you're out in the outfield compared to third base where you're 100 feet from the batter. On the other hand, it's similar in that you have to expect the ball to be hit to you on every pitch and maintain your focus.
Right now, I lean on David DeJesus quite a bit. He talks to me a lot and does a good job of keeping me in the game. I watch him and he helps get me in the right position. He's been a big help.
Between rehabbing my shoulder following the surgery on my rotator cuff and labrum and the position change this has been an interesting few months for me. But I missed the last few weeks of last season, so I'm hoping to stay healthy and have a good full season this year.
My arm is coming along and I should be pretty close to full strength by the end of Spring Training. It was helpful that I knew I'd be switching to the outfield because I was able to incorporate that change into my rehab and work on stretching my arm out and making the longer throw.
I've been doing a lot of long toss and that sort of thing. I'd much rather stretch my arm out and then be asked to come in and play the infield than start out in the infield then have to abruptly switch to the outfield and have to stretch my arm out at the last moment.
After struggling and being sent down early last season I returned and was able to put up numbers that were good enough to help build some confidence going into this year. But for me to consider myself successful, I'm going to need to stay healthy and be productive in the middle of our lineup for a full season.
Selected 33rd overall in he 2002 draft by the A's, Mark Teahen was the key player the Royals acquired in the three-team trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Astros and Octavio Dotel to the A's in June 2004. Despite a trip to the minors and shoulder injury that limited him to 393 at-bats in 2006, Teahen batted .290 with 18 homers, 21 doubles and 69 RBIs and posted a .357 on-base average. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.