Who's the toughest pitcher to face?
There's a few. Just go up and down the American League East. The tough lefties are usually the most difficult. Sabathia and Jon Lester are two that stand out. The guys both have power arms; they run mid-90s plus. They have tremendous breaking stuff. Good sliders, good curveballs. What makes them so difficult is that they are power arms that can finesse you. They can finesse you in a hitters count and drop some breaking balls in. They don't hang too much stuff. They don't give you too much to hit.
(At FanFest Luke was asked who is his favorite pitcher to face. Luke didn't give a specific player but said that everyone loves to hit in interleague, because the National League sucks. Ok, he didn't say the National League sucks, but that's what he meant)
What is your off-season conditioning program?
I do all the weights and the plyometric training, but I've incorporated cutting wood with an axe. I left completely behind me hitting off a tee and taking batting practice during the offseason. The reason why is I come to Spring Training and I have to fix everything, so I don't pick up a bat until a week before Spring Training.I like to get out in the cold weather when I train out in Oklahoma. I cut the tree down, then once it's down on the ground I piece up the whole thing with an axe. Trunk, branches, everything. The end result is it builds tremendous forearm and grip strength. It also teaches the basic swing, you can't do anything wrong. If your hands cast out or you do something that wouldn't be good as far as mechanics go with your swing, the axe will usually bounce off the tree and it'll laugh at you. But if everything is right, sound and your mechanics are good, when you hit the tree the right way it'll cut through it right away like nothing. It's worked for me.
(Does the tree laugh at you, or is it the axe? Is Luke spending too much time alone in the forest?)
What do you think about stealing bases?
I prefer to trot around the bases.
Do you have any advice for kids?
Be ready to work. I don't care how talented you are. You can be the most talented, gifted athlete in the world, and guys like me will pass you up. I passed a lot of guys that were much better than me. The reason why I passed them up was my work ethic. I just out-worked them. Guys had more opportunity, guys had bigger signing bonuses, they all the attention from the roving hitting instructors, and I had to fight tooth and claw. At the end of the day, this is what the game is about. It's a blue-collar game. It's not necessarily the most talented that are on the field. Yes there are people with great abilities that play, but there are so many more that are very talented that don't make it because they have an attitude that it's going to fall out of the sky, it's going to fall into their lap." I was great in high school, so people are telling me I'm going to make it, it's going to happen." That's not how it works. You got the best players in the whole world competing for these few spots, it's what's going to separate you. There is always going to be someone more talented than you. What separates you? Your character, your integrity, your hard work. That's where I was able to gain ground on everyone else, and that's why I'm here today.
Are you ready to go back to the outfield?
The last few years I had to take one for the team and DH. It was a little difficult for me because I take pride of my defense and is part of the game I really enjoy. Now with Vlad being here I get to move back to my natural position which is the outfield, and I'm excited to get back out there.