What has been the biggest adjustment so far going from minor league coach to manager?
"There have been several. Keeping the team motivated had never really been a responsibility of mine, so that sticks out. Working with the pitching coach and handling the pitching staff is something I've never done before. And just moving infielders around, working with the outfielders, running a game and being the one to make the decision whether to hit-and-run or steal -- things of that nature -- are the things I've had to adjust to."
You are living downtown. What's that been like?
"Great. My wife and I like to have coffee in the morning and walk to our favorite spots. She really enjoys the town. The people here are great. The people really define Charleston and everyone has been really nice."
Favorite hotel as a major league player?
"I would have to say the Parc 55 in San Francisco."
How about your favorite road trip town so far in the South Atlantic League?
"Greenville. It's one of the most well-planned downtown areas I've seen. It's very aesthetically beautiful. The restaurants are great, the field is downtown and it was just a nice experience."
What was it like to hear you had been promoted to the majors for the first time, 1995 with the Mets?
"I was on the road in triple-A. Toby Harrah was my manager and called me in the office and told me I was going to the big leagues. We didn't have cell phones back then so I had to wait to get back to the hotel to call my dad, and that was a very special moment. You think about all the hard work you put in and you think about Little League days and your dad hitting ground balls on the side of the yard ... Just a real emotional day."
In Baltimore you played with Cal Ripken. How was that?
"Ripken had always been someone I looked up to. In high school, I was a bigger guy playing shortstop and when scouts told me I was too big to play the position, I always looked at Cal Ripken Jr. as paving the way for bigger shortstops. Up to that point, the prototypical shortstops were small guys who were quick, and that's not who I was. That was just such a cool experience for me to be able to play with him."
In Tampa Bay you played with Jose Canseco, right?
"Yeah, and Jose was great to me. He treated me like a teammate. We went out to lunch a couple times and he was always really good to me."
Here we are in your office at Riley Park and the TV is on and you're not watching ESPN. What's up with the business news on CNBC?
"I keep track of what's going on in the world. Just to keep up to date on the stock market."
Of the managers you had in the big leagues, is there one that sticks out as your favorite or a guy who taught you the most about managing?
"Bobby Valentine is a guy I had as a manager in the minor leagues and he really went out of his way to teach me the game and how to play the game right. In the big leagues most of the guys I had weren't really coaches, they more managed the team and let their coaches help out the players."
Did you have a favorite major league ballpark as a player?
"Oh, so many. Yankee Stadium made it very easy to get up for the game. And going back to San Francisco, a beautiful stadium in the area where I'm from, was always special."
Talking pitchers. How about the most impressive, difficult to deal with, intimidating?
"Well, Randy Johnson is the first one that comes to mind. But then there is a guy like Brad Radke, who always gave me trouble. He didn't have overpowering stuff but he was somebody I always struggled with."
Career-wise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
"In five years, I would like to be in the big leagues in some capacity."
You hit two home runs in the majors, both in 1997. Do you remember them well?
"I remember them very well. My first one was against Allen Watson. I had two strikes on me. He threw me a breaking ball and I hit it over the left-center field fence in Camden Yards. The other one was in Milwaukee and that one hit off the left-field foul pole."
What do like to do outside baseball?
"I had back surgery my last year with Colorado, which is why I retired. A friend of mine told me yoga would help. So I took a Bikram yoga class -- hot yoga -- and I liked it so much I got certified to teach it. I went to L.A. for two months and learned from Bikram (Choudhury) himself."
Wow, cool. Did you ever talk baseball with Bikram?
"No, not really. He's not really into baseball. But he does have a lot of athletes he works with."
What do you like the most about yoga?
"It helps you with breathing, concentration -- things I can go back to on the field or in the dugout in an intense situation. It's really great."