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August 12, 2010

BP Unfiltered

Five Minutes with Rajai Davis

by David Laurila

A 29-year-old product of the University of Connecticut, Rajai Davis is as thoughtful as he is swift. The A’s speedster, who has 34 stolen bases on the campaign, shared his contemplative side during a visit to Fenway Park earlier this season.

David Laurila: How would describe the culture of baseball?

Rajai Davis: I think it’s different for everyone. For me, it’s just something that I love to do. I dreamed about playing when I was very young, and going through the minor-league system was something that was a great learning process; it was a great opportunity for me to develop my character and become the person who I am today. I was just going through the challenges, the trials and the adversity, and all that encompasses dealing with baseball and coming up through the system. I was dealing with a lot of life issues, like finances, relationships, and all of the above.

Baseball is something that we do because…personally speaking, I just love to play it. I enjoy the intensity of the atmosphere, I enjoy the competition, I enjoy competing against the best players in the world. Part of the experience is that you’re playing with, and against, guys who grew up in the Dominican, in Venezuela, in California, all over the world. They’re recruiting worldwide now, and just to have exposure is good for your character and development as a person. You’re interacting with people from all different races while playing baseball.

DL: Has your self identity evolved over your time in the game?

RJ: To me, I’m the same person. I’ve gotten better as a player -- I’ve developed my skills a lot more -- but if you asked someone else, I don’t know what they’d say. Obviously, when you have some success at this level, people look at you…people change around you; they look at you differently. They didn’t look at me the same when I was in the minor leagues as they do now. I guess that I sense a little more respect and honor being a player who is in the major leagues as opposed to in the minors.

As far as my teammates go, I can’t say that any of them have changed dramatically. Maybe their pockets -- their finances -- but otherwise not too much has changed with most of them. They’re the same guys they’ve been.

DL: How do players view fans?

RJ: We have some fans in Oakland who are faithful. They come out, and whether we win or lose, they’re a solid, core group. And you also get your fans who, when you’re winning they jump on board and start filling the stands. But everyone wants a winning team.

Sometimes the fans expect a lot more out of certain players than they do from others, perhaps because of what they did in the past. But this is a new year and it’s a different atmosphere, and sometimes there can be a lack of understanding. That is hard at times, the way they treat some players. The fans like to be treated well, and we, as players, like to be treated well, also. But you get into the atmosphere of the game and fans get excited. Sometimes they have so much fun that it’s taken a little overboard. I guess that comes with the consumption of alcohol at the ball fields, but it is what it is. It comes with the territory and as a player you just deal with it.

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