- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2007

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Washington Nationals outfielder Ryan Church is coming off a rough season: He didn’t make the club’s Opening Day roster, and he bounced back and forth between the minors and D.C.

Church says he’s a new man this spring, sound in body and mind and ready to be the club’s everyday left fielder. Ken Wright caught up with Church on Tuesday at spring training.

Q: Your numbers from 2005 were real good. What happened to you last spring training? Why didn’t you make the team?

A: I had the wrong attitude and it showed. You can’t really turn it on and say, “I can turn it on whenever I want.” I’m not that good.

It was a learning experience for me, and now that I look back at it I’m glad I went through it because now I know what to expect and what I need to do and what they expect of me. It’s to go out there and play hard every day and get ready.

Q: What’s the mood on this team now? You’ve got a new manager and a whole lot of new players.

A: Having Manny [Acta] coming in is going to be a great opportunity for a lot of guys being that there are spots open. But with Manny, he’s going to bring a whole different level of energy. He’s really going to rub off on us because he’s upbeat and he keeps things fun.

I think he’s going to expect us to do our work, but then again, there’s going to be times where he makes it fun. The whole attitude of the team is like, hey, this is basically like, let’s start over. The opportunity knocks for a lot of guys, and that’s all you can ask for going in.

Q: What did you do this offseason?

A: I took a little vacation to the Cayman Islands to get my mind right. I started hitting and working out in November. I started a little earlier just to get ready for spring training.

Q: Did you get sunburned in the Caymans?

A: No, actually I was working on my fake bacon before … getting down there.

Q: What’s your favorite sport other than baseball?

A: Golf.

Q: Who’s your favorite athlete other than yourself?

A: Chipper Jones.

Q: Why Chipper?

A: I grew up watching the Braves, and he was somebody I really idolized and put up on a pedestal. He was just a phenomenal baseball player, and still is. When I was a kid growing up, I hoped to get a chance to play against him, and we do now. So, that’s pretty cool.

Q: Who do you think is going to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament?

A: Florida is the good team right now. They’ve played phenomenal the whole year like last year when they won the national championship. So, they’re a pretty good bet to repeat.

Q: What is your favorite thing about spring training?

A: My favorite thing about spring training is getting back here and working out doing what we love to do. Getting back to seeing everybody again and hanging out.

Q: What do you hate about spring training?

A: I don’t hate anything about spring training. You’ve got to look at it as getting ready for the season. The biggest thing is the times once we start games, you’ve got about a month. You have those 30 games, and it kind of goes quickly.

Previous Q&A; sessions:

Brian Schneider

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