Brian Jordan says he doesn't want to replace Andres Galarraga, but in his first month with the Braves he's done a remarkable impersonation of the Big Cat, hitting .318 with seven homers and 24 RBI in 27 games.
The right fielder, who makes his home in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, signed a five-year, $40 million contract last November and credits track and field Olympic coach Bob Kersee with helping him resurrect an injury-plagued career.
Jordan discussed Kersee's impact and a variety of other subjects during an interview with Morris News Service reporter Bill Zack.
Q: Last winter there was some spirited bidding between the Braves and Yankees for you. How close did you come to signing with New York?
Jordan: The big thing with the Yankees is I enjoy playing for Joe Torre. That was the plus they had; Joe Torre is there. It was still a tough decision because my wife is from Philadelphia, right here on the East Coast, so it wouldn't have been too far to travel. It was a touchy situation with Bernie Williams and me and (George) Steinbrenner, but I wasn't going to wait around once Atlanta made a good enough offer.
It was a fun negotiation with (John) Schuerholz and Stan Kasten. Stan is a funny guy. I enjoyed sitting there and listening. It was fun for me, but it wasn't fun for my agent.
Q: If you had waited, you probably could have signed for $50 million or more with the Yankees or another team. Do you regret not pushing for more money?
Jordan: I'm quite sure I could have possibly gotten more somewhere else if I had waited around, but I was happy. How much money do you need? It's not all about money, it's about being happy where you're at.
This is a perfect situation, being here with my family and with a great organization that's willing to do whatever it takes to win. It couldn't get any better than that.
Q: Hitting behind Mark McGwire last year, how many RBI got taken away from you?
Jordan: A lot of them. (McGwire) cleaned the bases a lot. I could have produced a little more, there's no question my RBI total could have been better. But you've got to have somebody who can run in front of you too.
My doubles wouldn't score (McGwire) from first, where my doubles will score Chipper (Jones) now. I don't know what to expect, I don't know what my potential is. I just play the game and have fun. Hopefully I'll just get better.
Q: Do you miss playing two sports?
Jordan: It was a lot of fun. I didn't get locked into one sport, I had something to look forward to. After my third year with the Falcons I was actually looking to sign a good contract with football, but I think the Falcons kind of messed it up for me. They wanted me to wait, wait, wait and then the Cardinals made me a guaranteed offer and at that time, with a family, I couldn't refuse.
I was going to go back to football after the three years was over, I was going to sign with the Raiders, but then the Cardinals came back with another three years guaranteed.
Q: Do you miss football?
Jordan: I miss it. I don't sit around and watch it too much and I don't go to too many games because I want to be out there. But I don't miss waking up on Monday in pain.
Q: With the exception of the last two years, you've always been a slow starter. So, how do you explain the hottest April of your career?
Jordan: I attribute it to getting myself into the best condition possible. That didn't start until I met Bob Kersee last year and I think that has a lot to do with it.
Q: What led you to begin workouts with track and field Olympic coach Bob Kersee?
Jordan: I had injured my back and no one really had an answer for me. The doctor in St. Louis kept telling me I was OK, yet I couldn't swing a bat and I was in a lot of pain. Bob turned me onto the doctor he uses and his Olympic athletes use and he told me exactly when I possibly did it and how to correct it.
Those two guys taught me the importance of conditioning. I had to condition my body to play 162 games. I wasn't doing that. I was doing football training, instead of knowing the little muscles in baseball you need.
Q: What was a typical workout with Bob Kersee like?
Jordan: We'd go to the track about 8 o'clock and stretch, walk about a mile, jog about a mile and that's just the stretching part. After the stretching, I thought I was finished, that's how much pain I was in from the stretching. From there, here comes the track workout. I was running 400s, 300s, just like Jackie (Joyner-Kersee) and Gail (Devers), getting myself in the best condition possible.
It was amazing watching those track athletes. Now I have a new respect for them. From there we went and had lunch and came back at 3 o'clock and we stretched again, then walked and jogged, then we went to the weight room. For me, it wasn't so much I had to get strong, it was repetition for endurance and working the baseball muscles. That was five days a week.