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Granderson: Season winding down
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11/12/2004 12:33 PM ET
Granderson: Season winding down
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Curtis Granderson is an outfielder in the Detroit Tigers organization. A third-round draft pick in the 2002 draft, Granderson had a breakout, All-Star season with Double-A Erie this year, hitting .303 with 21 homers and 93 RBIs for the SeaWolves. He's a member of the Grand Canyon Rafters for the Fall League season.

Hey everyone!

We are counting down the days to the completion of the Fall League. I think a lot of players are starting to fatigue. I have seen it on the field as a lot players are starting to become consistently late with their swings. Pitchers seem to be tiring and counting their innings from the beginning of the year until now. Some guys are approaching or will finish with more than 150 innings, which is a lot for a minor league starter.

I think mentally everyone seems to still be very focused across the board. We know that we have to be here and that since we are playing, why not give our best and leave it all out there? The offseason is coming soon and then we can finally get the rest that a lot of players are looking forward to.

Now our team, the Rafters, is sitting in second place, and we will see if we can take a shot at getting that one playoff spot in our division. For some of us, getting to the playoffs will be the first shot at winning a championship ring. I was fortunate to have a shot at a ring my first year with my short-season team, the Oneonta Tigers. We made it to the championship in the New York-Penn League. We came up short to the Staten Island Yankees. So maybe I'll have a shot at receiving my first ring. As next week ends, we will have a good shot at that playoff spot.

Now to your e-mails:

Hi. I enjoyed reading you articles, but I was wondering what you can tell us about other Tigers the are down there in fall ball? I see Chris Shelton doing very well. What can you tell me about him and others?
Your fan,

Curtis responds:
Chris didn't get much playing time this year, but he was in the big leagues all year, so that's a huge learning plus for him. Chris, you can say, had a lot to prove since he didn't have a lot of at-bats this season. He is proving himself to be a very good hitter. Ryan Raburn, who received a September callup this year, is playing great defense here. I think across the board in the organization, they feel he can become a great second basemen. Mark Woodyard, Rick Kirsten, and Lee Rodney are all pitchers who threw in Double-A this year at one point in the season and had success. I think down here, it's a little difficult for them to be on one day and off the next day, where during the season you could pretty much throw everyday. All three of them seem to be showing good velocity and command of their pitches.

Hi. My name is Aaron. I am 12 years old. I was wondering if players actually read their fan mail. And do they actually sign the stuff? Also, do you have any tips for a little league player on hitting and fielding?

Curtis responds:
I can't speak for all the players who receive fan mail, but a majority of us do take the time to read and sign cards and items for fans. Some players may take a little longer to respond because they receive more than others.

As far as tips, I think repetition is a big key. You also have to have some instruction to make sure you are doing it the correct way. Remember also not to tire yourself out, because you always want to keep the game fun. Once it seems like a chore, you may start to forget that it's still a game, and that it's meant to be fun.

Do you have the commitment and drive to become a part of the community in Detroit while working to contribute to bring the franchise to the top again?
Dave Borden

Curtis responds:
If Detroit ends up becoming my home, I'm going to do just that -- make it my home in a lot of ways. Something that helps me out when I play somewhere is to feel support and comfort from the community that I'm in. In order to get that, I have to give back by showing that I am a part of the community. As far as the franchise, if I remain a Tiger, I want to be a part of a winning tradition. I'm not accustomed to losing, so I feel no reason to start now.

Hi Curtis. Congratulations on your fine 2004 season. Not only did you improve your power numbers, I noticed your walk rate increased dramatically as well. That seems to be what most scouts are looking for these days -- plate discipline. Did you make a conscious effort to improve in that area this season, or was it due to your natural maturation as a hitter?

Curtis responds:
I think maturity was a big part of it and feeling more comfortable hitting with two strikes. When things started to click with my swing, the best thing I did was try not to get to two strikes. If I saw pitches I wanted early in the count, I tried to get after them. If I didn't, I tried my best to lay off them and started to draw more walks in the process.

Do you or your teammates take the AFL as seriously as the regular season? Or do you take it more like Spring Training and just worry about getting in your playing time and working on your skills?

Curtis responds:
It is difficult to stay as motivated here as we do during the regular season. I think our manager, Bruce Fields, has done a great job of keeping us on track and reminding us that as long as the standings are posted in the area newspapers, and that there are scouts from all 30 teams in the stands, then these games and our performance still count.

Is it hard to stay grounded knowing that you are one of the top prospects in baseball? Are you a fan of any certain player now? Have you collected any autographs or memorabilia from any players? Do you keep any momentos from your baseball career as is grows?
From a big fan,

Curtis responds:
I think the one thing you mentioned in your first question is that I am one of the top prospects, not the top prospect. That means I still have work to do to become the top prospect and also get to the point where I can have an everyday job in Detroit.

I would have to say that Barry Bonds is a player I really admire. He is a player who can take huge amounts of criticism, not get pitched to in numerous at-bats and still produce big offensive numbers. He continues to play great defense in the process.

The first autographs I gathered were this year from some of the Detroit Tigers players. I asked Pudge (Ivan Rodriguez), Dmitri Young and Rondell White for an autographed bat. I was fortunate to also be there when 11 of the Tigers broke a MLB record for number of guys in the same year on the same team with 10 or more home runs. I asked all those players to sign a bat for me.

Hello, my name is Robert Reid. I am a big-time baseball fan. What is it like to be a Major Leaguer? How do you like the Tigers' chances in the upcoming years? Also, are you having fun in Arizona?

Curtis responds:
I wouldn't yet classify myself as a Major Leaguer because I was only up there for a short time, but it was a great feeling playing on that stage. I think the Tigers' chances and future looks great, as you can see from the improvement in just one year. There were a lot of positive things there this past season. This is my first time playing in Arizona and it has been good. The weather is great and there are a lot of different things you can do in your off time -- from shopping, eating, going out and different sports teams to watch. I can see why about 150 current Major Leaguers live here in Arizona.

I just wanted to know how your experience is going during the fall league? What are you specifically working on to make it the next level? Have you set a timetable as to when you'd like to make it to Detroit? How's Bruce Fields as a manager?
Terry Moore

Curtis responds:
The biggest thing I have picked up here in the Fall League is that I'm playing with some of the top prospects in baseball and I don't seem to be too far off from them.

I am working at all three outfield positions to make myself more valuable. I am trying to become a better hitter -- from understanding the strike zone, bunting and having the ability to hit for average as well as drive the baseball.

Even though I had a little taste of Detroit this year, it was a lot sooner than expected. I remember getting drafted and hearing that it takes players between three to five years to make it to the bigs, so I focused on the longer part because that was how long I felt it would take me.

Bruce has been a good manager from rotating players to getting everyone playing time. He doesn't fatigue players either. I think he does a great job keeping us focused on continuing to play competitive baseball, as well as keeping it fun.

Are you on any kind of strength program this offseason?
David Wolfe

Curtis responds:
All players have some type of offseason program. I've been told to continue to gain and maintain throughout the season to complete the entire season with the same amount of strength and speed. I know that flexibility is key and we continue to incorporate it in our workouts as well endurance training.

The Tigers have Alex Sanchez, who hit over .300 last season, and Nook Logan, who opened some eyes during a late season callup. What can you bring to the table that would set you apart from those two?
Robert Grable

Curtis responds:
The biggest thing I have over those guys is that I have played the corner outfield positions before and I feel I play them well. But those two players are very good players. They run well, can get on base, and play great center field. They don't have too many flaws in their game.

What did you most learn when you were called up to the Tigers in September?
James Call

Curtis responds:
I learned that it's still baseball, just at the highest level. Those guys keep it fun and just play. And I learned how players on both sides of the ball show confidence no matter what was is happening.

Thanks for all the great e-mails. Talk to you next week.

Send Curtis an e-mail.

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

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