There were many ups and downs during the 2020 MLB season for former Redbird and current St. Louis Cardinals short-stop Paul DeJong.
Despite having to stop partially through the season due to a positive COVID-19 test, DeJong had a solid season with a .250/.322/.349 slash line with three home runs.
Despite punching their ticket to the playoffs, DeJong and the Cardinals were unable to beat the San Diego Padres in three games.
Hear from DeJong as he looks back on the season.
Jake Sermersheim: How did stopping and starting affect you and the team in the playoffs?
Paul DeJong: It is hard to say. We were right there in game two and could not pull it off. It would have been a lot different if we could have won game two. Looking back at the end of the season we knew what we had to accomplish. We saw where the end was and what our goals were. I thought it was a great job by our team to win that many games and get in. We all showed something deep in ourselves, that we were able to overcome adversity. I think we all showed something deep in ourselves to overcome adversity with mind over matter. We were all feeling something at the end. We developed that on-field switch. With limited practice time we weren’t able to practice as much. We had to develop our own switch when it was game time.
JS: What was the biggest thing you learned during 2020?
PD: I think it all taught us something individually in our habits. We had less time on the field so we had to figure out what we had to do to be able to play. We all learned how to take care of ourselves and take care. On the field it will always be baseball. But off the field we all have to learn to take care of ourselves. I got more of a perspective on baseball in general. Cutting down fans and travel made everything different. It made me realize everything I took for granted. Little things like going out to eat on the road. We all figured out what we needed to thrive. Next year we are going to do things genuinely and purposefully because of what we learned this year.
JS: What was the hardest struggle this season?
PD: It is more like the mental side of things. This year was quiet, it became all about what we were doing. There weren’t extra distractions. I learned how to take care of my mind more than anything. Also, just more experience on the field and learning about yourself helps me make it what I want moving forward. All these things I went through makes me want to pursue my greater excellence. I also didn’t want to compare myself to others with my performance. It is all about being the best me moving forward. That will take some building up and some meditation to achieve this.
JS: How do you feel physically after the shortened season?
PD: I still feel good. I don’t feel the normal end-of-the-season tiredness. I have a lot of new ideas on taking care of my body and working on strength and mobility. I want to pursue my strength and mobility goals just because I have a lot of extra energy. There are a lot of daily things that won’t tire me out. I began to figure out how to help my body. I did a lot more frequent exercise. I am going to take less of breaks and not doing anything because I don’t feel tired yet. I’ll work on strength and mobility through November and December.
JS: What are your plans for training this off-season?
PD: I heard some guys talking about how Max Scherzer was going to go home and throw 50 innings. You never know what some of these pitchers might do. Like, guys like Ryan Helsley was getting ready to be a starter but only threw 12 innings with everything going on, he probably threw more than that in spring training. All these guys have a lot of work left in their arms.
JS: What was the hardest part of the season?
PD: The stop and start were the hardest part. I was really pleased with how I responded during the first break in April. When things got hard, I became more desperate for results and I wasn’t able to be the best player I could be. With a short season you start thinking I could do this and this but I learned I need to be patient and let the results show.