Steve Kleen played his college ball at Pepperdine.
Steve Kleen has had a stranglehold on the first base job for Kane County this season, appearing in 64 games. He has been a steady presence in the middle of the Cougars' line-up, hitting .278 with two homers and 33 RBI. He is carrying a .366 on-base percentage and a .372 slugging percentage into the All-Star break. Jennifer Harasek caught up with Kleen during the first half's final weekend.
Jennifer Harasek: Do you miss pitching?
Steve Kleen: No. I always liked hitting more than pitching.
JH: Was it a big adjustment to go from aluminum to wood bats?
SK: Yeah. It is a big adjustment, it's a different swing. In college you can get away with a longer swing, but in pro ball with a wood bat you have to have a shorter swing.
It is a big adjustment, and for some people it is pretty difficult.
JH: What's been the biggest difference between the Northwest and the Midwest Leagues?
SK: The strike zones are smaller, especially now that we have new umpires, and our park is a better hitter's park than in Vancouver.
JH: What are you looking to improve on this season at the plate? Defensively?
SK: Just consistency. I have really good streaks and then I follow them up right away with slumps, so I need to make sure I stay consistent.
Defensively, I just work on my defense every day and keep doing what I am doing.
JH: Who was your favorite player as a kid? Team?
SK: The Dodgers and Kirk Gibson.
JH: Do you prefer to hit in the middle of the order?
SK: Yes, anywhere from 3 to 6.
JH: How do you pass the time on road trips?
SK: We sleep most of the time, and we play darts and cards.
JH: What's the favorite card game in the clubhouse?
SK: It's called Casino. It's complicated but it's pretty fun.
JH: Where's the best hitter's park?
SK: Probably Lansing.
JH: What's the best part of being a professional baseball player?
SK: The fans. I think we get the most fan support.
JH: Do you have any pre-game superstitions?
JH: Describe your perfect off day.
SK: Since we are in Illinois, probably fishing.
JH: If you could take batting practice with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
SK: Babe Ruth.
JH: What are your goals for this season?
SK: I want to hit above .300. That is my goal.