1/5 Batting around with Jeff Baker

MLB.com: When you were growing up, was there a player you idolized?

BAKER: My family’s from Ohio, and I would watch Barry Larkin. I loved watching him. Chris Ianetta went to the [World Baseball Classic], and I said, ‘Dude, see if you can get a ball signed by Larkin.’ He was really really cool. I was a shortstop growing up in college. My game is not comparable to his — he’s a different type of player. I just always followed him and followed the Reds.

MLB.com: If you could trade places with someone in baseball, who would it be?

BAKER: Joe DiMaggio — I’d love to see what it would be like during his hitting streak. Going to the yard every day, knowing you’re going to get a hit — I think that would be unbelievable. You’re looking at one-third of the season, you’re getting a hit every game.

MLB.com: This offseason, when do you start your workouts?

BAKER: I always go home and take about a week off and don’t do a whole lot. About four, five days into that week, I’ll get in touch with the strength coach and make up some goals for what I want to accomplish, what I want to work on, whether it’s working on strength, flexibility, whatever it is. During that week off, I prepare for what I want to do in the offseason. When Jan. 1 rolls around, then you start fine-tuning the baseball stuff up and basically you roll.

I normally start hitting about the middle of December. I’ll do tee work then. I work out with a lot of guys at George Mason University. I like helping those guys out. They’re good guys. I always try to get in the fieldhouse and work out with them. It’s great having a workout partner every day. It’s good being around those guys in December, which is when you start to miss it, miss the camaraderie of the team and being around the team.

MLB.com: You’ve traveled quite a bit because of your family. Any favorites?

BAKER: The coolest place I remember was the UAE [United Arab Emirates]. Being in the Middle East is pretty neat. My father was an ambassador over there and we had a whole villa and we could play catch on the second level. It was ridiculously huge. It’s one of those things I’ll never forget. That was probably the coolest place I remember. I was in second, third grade then. There was no baseball. The fathers started a T-ball league there. We were excited about that because all we saw was soccer.

I have a pretty decorated [passport]. I’ve never been to Europe — of all the places we’ve been, I’ve never been there. I’d love to go to Rome and see all the history there. I’ve been in Amsterdam for baseball stuff, but never as a sightseer.

MLB.com: Is there a comfort food you crave?

BAKER: I don’t know if I have a “go to.” My mom makes great chicken cordon bleu, and I”m a fan of that. Anything grilled, to be honest. If it’s on a grill, it’s great.

— Carrie Muskat 

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