Paul DeJong was a member of the National League All-Star Team in 2019

Sermersheim: What was your initial reaction to the shutdown?

Paul DeJong: Kind of shocked, almost hurt. Went through a little depressed state, not too bad. Everyone has that uncertainty, everyone is scared of the sickness. A lot of emotions that they canceled baseball, which has never been done before. We are walking on ground that has not been traveled before. It gives me confidence that everyone is in the same boat.

JS: Does it feel like you should be playing games right now?  

PD: It feels like spring training is still far away. It does not feel like it should be opening day to me. Putting everything on hold for everything in the world is beyond baseball. I know they were playing old games but I think everyone is missing baseball. 

JS: What are you expecting once baseball comes back?          

PD: I think you have to compare it to 9/11. After baseball came back everyone was unified. I am hoping that when we start playing there will be a newfound love by fans and players. It is something everyone can get behind once it is back. I am expecting a big comeback.

JS: What is the hardest part of this break?  

PD: Just the uncertainty on how to prepare and how to get ready, everyone wants to be ready once the season starts. For us, it has been a standstill waiting to hear from the player's association on an exact date. I know for sure we have to wait for the CDC’s order of no general assembly. That was a week or two ago so I think we are looking at a month. Guys have thrown dates out but nothing is set in stone yet. We still do not know if we will have a 140-game season or expanded playoffs or some of the other things that have been thrown out.   

Shorter season, prorated pay, more doubleheaders, expanded roster, longer playoffs are some things that are being talked about. I think what players want the most is more games. The goal is to get as many games in without hurting yourself or causing damage to our bodies. It is definitely a walking the line situation.

JS: What does your day-to-day look like without baseball?  

PD: I’ve gone fishing a lot, reading, doing quite stuff. Stuff about the human conciseness, religious stuff, some philosophy stuff. Just a lot of trying to navigate my way through this. The Cardinals complex is open with batting cages and weight rooms available. I feel like they are going to shut down the complex soon, so the next couple of weeks are uncertain. I have a place down here (Jupiter) that is comfortable.

My agent and I are coming up with our outreach program through Topps in the classroom. We are trying to engage kids in science and literacy so kids can stay locked in on school. Even though everyone seems to be in a freefall with no structure. I’m sure it is difficult learning online.

JS: How is the Topps in the Classroom affected by this shutdown?  

PD: We will have to do more remote stuff. We were going to go to hospitals and Ronald Mcdonalds house but that has changed. Once the season gets going again I am going to focus on working with the Ronald McDonald House in St. Louis.  

JS: Earlier this year you were honored with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, what does that mean to you?  

PD: It is truly a great honor to be recognized by my school. I wear my college colors with pride because of how much college means to me. My experience at Illinois State modeled me and is a part of me so very grateful to be able to give back. To be honored by them is great.   

JAKE SERMERSHEIM is a Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter at @JakeSermersheim

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