By Melissa Verge
Canadian Baseball Network
Curtis Granderson stands in front of his locker inside the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, arms crossed, relaxed. It’s three hours before first pitch. A mini Dasani water bottle dangles from the outfielders catching hand.
Even after what must be hundreds of interviews over a 14-year MLB career, he doesn’t seem the least bit annoyed as he answers my barrage of questions. Either he’s a good actor, or very polite.
The eye contact doesn’t waver, much like his dedication to the game. At 37-years-old, he’s batting .324 in 37 plate appearances. But, he says, what’s more important to him than personal statistics is how successful the team is doing.
“The big thing is we’re winning as a team, that’s the biggest thing,” Granderson said. “The individual stuff will take care of itself. To win series, to win series on the road, to play against teams that have been playing good, have been all the big takeaways I’ve taken so far to this point.”
He pauses to take a sip from his water bottle. It’s part of his pre-game ritual.
Granderson has already drank five of them, a number he says will reach 12 before “everything is all said and done.” The Blue Jays outfielder is very particular about how he likes his water - room temperature - because “it’s easier to drink.” And, according to Granderson, “it tastes just a little better.”
The Blue Jays are 9-5 on the season so far, four games above .500. They’ve won three series and split one, and the one with Cleveland won’t be determined until May when they make up the two games that were rained out.
A 9-5 record looks a lot better than last year at this point when they were 3-11.
Granderson has been a part of helping shape that record.
He played for both the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, before finalizing a one-year deal with the Blue Jays in the off-season. Although he hasn’t called Toronto home for very long, he says it has a lot of similarities to Chicago where he grew up.
“I’ve always liked this city, the diversity is very similar [to Chicago], they look very similar, the weather is very similar, people are nice and friendly,” he says. “It’s always been a good place to come and play.”
Diversity is one of the things Granderson likes about Toronto, and that diversity carries over from the streets surrounding the dome - Blue Jays Way and Bremner Blvd., and into the Blue Jays clubhouse. With the team honouring Jackie Robinson on Tuesday, Granderson is thankful for the contributions he’s made to the game.
“The reasons why this locker room can be the way it is - there’s teammates in here from Canada, from Korea, Africa, from all over the U.S., from Latin American countries, all thanks in part to Jackie Robinson,” he says.
The Blue Jays coaching staff is also quite diverse with Luis Rivera from Puerto Rico and DeMarlo Hale.
“Hopefully we’ll continue to be even [more] different moving forward as we talk 70 years from now,” Granderson says.
For now, though, the interview is over…
Granderson still has seven room temperature water bottles left to drink.