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Future stars receive e-mail
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07/13/2003  8:10 PM ET 
Future stars receive e-mail
Players answer your e-mails live from the dugout
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MLB.com offered fans the opportunity to e-mail the Futures Game players and coaches. Here's what they had to say in response to your questions. You overwhelmed us with your questions. We did our best to get as many answered as possible.

Chad Tracy (Diamondbacks), INF -- U.S.
Hey Chad, got a question for you. I'm an ECU baseball fan. Where do you like playing more, Tucson or Greenville? -- Alex
It's a totally different atmosphere. In Greenville, your fellow students come out and watch and cheer you on, which is fun. It's a different setting. You're getting paid to do it now, it's a little more serious, a little more pressure. I would have to say they're equally as fun. It's still baseball.

Josh Barfield (Padres), INF -- U.S.
You are a very young and talented player, do you owe your success to hard work or were you just blessed? -- Jesse Fischer, Port Hadlock, WA
Definitely hard work. Everybody in the minor leagues is talented and it's the guys that work hard that succeed the most.

Khalil Greene (Padres), INF -- U.S.
What is it like to go to Chicago and participate in this "All-Star Game" and miss out on some games for your Triple-A team?
It's all right. They'll do fine without me. It's good to get away and get a break. It's an honor to be involved in all of this.

Hey Khalil, greetings from upstate South Carolina. I talked to you one day after preseason practice at Clemson. You were a joy to watch at Clemson. Keep up the good work in Portland (I follow your games online). Here's hoping you're in San Diego real soon. How much do you miss South Carolina?
My family lives there now so I think about it a lot. It was a good time when I was there so there were a lot of good memories.

Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox), INF -- U.S.
How do you feel about being given the nickname "The Greek God of Walks?"
I guess it's definitely not a bad gesture. It's good to have patience. Walking's not bad, I guess. It's something you've got to do. It's a little much, though.

Grady Sizemore (Indians), OF -- U.S.
What Major League pitcher are you hoping to face when you get up to the Major League level? -- Matt, Ohio
I guess if I had to face a left-hander, it would be Randy Johnson. He's the most dominant left-handed pitcher there is and I want to see how I matchup with him.

Pete LaForest (Devil Rays), INF -- WORLD
How frustrating was it missing Devil Rays Spring Training because of visa problems? What did you do while stuck in Ontario? -- Josh
It was really frustrating because obviously I had the chance to show myself to a whole new staff. Being stuck in Canada, in six feet of snow, minus 20 every day. I was in the cage, hitting every day and trying to stay in shape. Did some catching drills, tried to do as much as I could.

The worst thing was they would tell me, 'This weekend it all be settled and by Monday or Tuesday be able to get a ticket.' Every weekend, same thing -- they would call and say it was not going through. There were rumors I wasn't going to make it for the season -- I was like I hope that's not right!

After a while I just stopped worrrying about it. And here I am now.

Rich Harden (Athletics), RHP -- WORLD
How does it feel to be called one of the A's top pitching prospects when you can see what their system has produced over the years? -- Adam
It's pretty exciting to be up there with some of the guys like (Barry) Zito, (Tim) Hudson, and (Mark) Mulder, who were all top prospects back in the day and you look where they are now. Also, it brings a little more media attention, which kind of overwhelms you at first.

What do you like to do before a game to relax or to get pumped up for a game? Good luck in the Futures Game and I hope to see you up in Oakland pretty soon! -- Dana P.
Before a game, I usually throw in a movie, early afternoon, relax, grab a good lunch and then show up at the field a little early, throw on some Dave Matthews to relax me and pretty much almost fall asleep. Then I put on a little harder music to come up after that, maybe some Lincoln Park.

Edgar Gonzalez (Diamondbacks), RHP -- WORLD
What did you learn from the two games you started for the Arizona Diamondbacks in early June? Are you working on improving any areas of your game? -- Josh
I pitched in the big leagues for only two starts and I knew that it would be that many games going in. I focused on going out there for one game or two games. Things went well, I pitched good. The organization said I did a good job. They gave me an opportunity. The next chance for me is so-so.

In one of the games, I threw five innings and it was 3-2 after five innings, everything was perfect. But when I pitched in the sixth, I don't know what happened. I threw the ball down the middle. But they told me they liked my job and I am ready for anything. Maybe this year I might pitch with the Diamondbacks, but I am ready for everything. Right now, I am pitching pretty well.

Alexis Gomez (Royals), OF -- WORLD
You were a volleyball star in the Dominican. Do any of the skills from volleyball transfer to baseball?
Not really anything, except maybe catching the ball in the outfield on the warning track. I started playing baseball because my friend said, 'You don't make any money in volleyball, you better play baseball if you want to make money.' I like baseball better. It's harder. With volleyball, though, it's like a little field out there with six guys on it. So it's hard too.

John Van Benschoten (Pirates), RHP -- U.S.
Congratulations on your selection to the Futures Game! I was just wondering what adjustments have you had to make since being promoted to Double-A? Best of luck to you this year and beyond. -- Mark Honigmann
I haven't made any adjustments. When you get promoted they think you belong in that league. I didn't change my game plan at all. Stick with your game plan. That's what got me there.

Guillermo Quiroz (Blue Jays), C -- WORLD
You were on the 1994 World Champion Little League team from Venezuela. Do you feel that experience has helped you playing for the New Haven Ravens?
I enjoy playing there. The fans treat us real good and it's a nice city. The GM is really trying to do a good job with us. But it's the last year of the team being in New Haven -- the team is moving to New Hampshire next year.

Playing on the Little League team was exciting, I was 11 years old but all the other guys were older than me, they were all 12. But it was a great experience.

Chris Burke (Astros), INF -- U.S.
Hi Chris. I met you in Wichita during the Double-A All-Star Game. Who is the toughest pitcher you've faced to date? I love hearing player's perspectives on other players. Congratulations and good luck today! Represent the Texas League! See ya in Wichita. -- Billy
I would say Rich Hardin, Clint Nageotte or Rhett Johnson. All three are pretty tough. They all throw over 93-94 mph with movement and great breaking pitches.

Alexis Rios (Blue Jays), OF -- WORLD
I live in New York and have seen you play at New Haven, and let me start off by saying that you are a great player. How do you like to keep in touch with the fans? -- Adam
I like to stay in touch because we are playing for them. I sign autographs because they support us. They always talk to you, they keep looking up your stats, they're like family kind of.

Neal Cotts (White Sox), LHP -- U.S.
Hey, Neal. Fellow left-hander here. I live in Chicago and I was wondering how it felt to start the game in a ballpark that you will be playing in the next few years? You are a great pitcher and I can't till you are in Chicago. -- Mark L.
It was pretty exciting. But I was also pretty nervous. To be in a big-league ballpark for the first time, it was a little strange, but hopefully it won't be long before I pitch here again.

J.J. Hardy (Brewers), INF -- U.S.
Hi, J.J. How are Dave Krynzel's sideburns coming in? -Adam M., Milwaukee
Last year in high A ball, beginning of the year, I was looking at guys having sideburns. So I decided to grow sideburns, a bunch of guys helped me out. So I had a bet with Dave to see who could grow better sideburns. I won the bet, he gave me a $5 bill and posted it up on my locker to rub it in. We made a second bet that he would not cut his hair. He didn't cut his hair for a really long time, 5-6 months. He's got really long curly hair now.

Joe Mauer (Twins), C -- U.S.
Joe, how long do you think it will be before you get the Major League call? People are saying it is a mistake that the Twins didn't take Prior. How do you handle that?
Soon, I hope. I'm having fun,and I'm progressing. He's doing pretty good for himself, too. I'm happy for him. I hope I continue to climb up the ladder and get to the big leagues.

Travis Blackley (Mariners), LHP -- WORLD
Hey Travis, I met you in Wichita during the Double-A All-Star Game. Who is the toughest hitter you've faced to date? --Billy
Scott Wearne. He's an Australian kid, who I think just got picked up by the Pirates. Here, I would say it's Steve Stanley from the Midland Rock Hounds.

Being from Australia, how did you get into baseball? How popular is it there? How is pitching to Australian teams different from pitching to teams in the U.S.? -- Josh
I got into it on a "Bring a friend" day. My brother took me and I started a year after him when I was 12. The biggest difference is they use metal bats in Australia. It's still a step below here a fair bit. There, baseball isn't even in the top 10 sports. Mostly, it's rugby, cricket, futbol, surfing.

Justin Huber (Mets), C -- WORLD
Is it easy to find MLB games on TV in Australia? Is it surprising to find yourself with fellow Australian Travis Blackley at the Futures Game? Do you hope that one day you can catch for Travis on a Major League team?
It's hard to see games on TV, unless you have cable and probably 80 percent of the people do not have cable.

It's definitely surprising (to play with Blackley) because we grew up together. It's funny to be so close at home, then so far apart overseas and then to find each other here is great.

That would be awesome (to catch Blackley in the Majors some day).

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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