BRADENTON — This offseason infielder Casey McGehee said his first goal was to step as far away from baseball as he could. After the Milwaukee Brewers were eliminated from the playoffs, McGehee turned off the post season games and the World Series.
“I didn’t want to talk about it, look at it, anything,” McGehee said Tuesday at Pirate City. I just needed to clear my head and get away from it. I had to get to the point where I had to get myself re-excited about [the game].”
McGehee referred to his 2011 season as a “mental nightmare”. The third baseman hit just .223 over 155 games with the Brewers.
“Last year was just a mental nightmare for me,” McGehee said. “I just wanted to get back to the point where I was excited, looking forward to going and getting baseball ready again.”
I took McGehee a couple months to where he got that itch again, but he said he knew he’d get it eventually.
“I just had to get away from it and not be so consumed by it for a while. Once I did get to where I wanted to hit again, it was nice to have those old feelings of just looking forward to doing it again, and having that feeling of truly getting a fresh start, especially with a new organization. I feel like I truly can start over and put last year behind me once and for all, which is really what I wanted to do in the first place.”
McGehee is looking to put the past season behind him about 20-25 pounds lighter than 2011.
“I feel good. I feel stronger and faster than I have in a long time,” he said.
“I tried to get myself into as much good of shape as I could be, to try to take advantage of a near year even before I knew I was getting traded,” McGehee said. “I just wanted to give myself every opportunity to have the kind of year that I expect myself to have this year. I felt like that was something that was going to be important for me to really work on really getting in as good shape as I could.”
What helped out McGehee most in getting into better shape was his diet. After hiring a nutritionist and cutting out all of the delicious carbs, McGehee said he feels great.
“I didn’t eat terrible to begin with,” he said. “I got a nutritionist and we just kind of took it to the extreme, as far as what I was eating. That was the biggest change. Once I changed my diet, it made a huge difference, just cutting out all the bread and the rice, stuff like that. Basically anything you want to eat, don’t eat.”
“I’m definitely glad I did it. It’s something that I actually didn’t hate as much as I thought I would. So it’s something I’ll try to, maybe not as an extreme as I was, but kind of keep on that same path so I can maintain where I’m at a little bit easier.”
McGehee, 29, was acquired from the Brewers in December for righty reliever Jose Veras. The trade to Pittsburgh, however, didn’t come to him as a shock.
“Once they got Aramis [Ramirez], I kind of thought something was going to happen,” he said. “I didn’t really know what. I wasn’t really caught that totally off guard. I kind of saw it coming a little bit.”
McGehee has spent the past three seasons with the Brewers. During the 2009 season, McGehee finished with a .301 average, 16 home runs and finished fifth in the Rookie-of-the-Year voting. He followed that season with a .285 avg, 23 homers, 103 RBI and was named Milwaukee’s most valuable Player-of-the-Year.
Now coming to Pittsburgh, McGehee is considered one of the more veteran position players.
“I went from being one of the younger guys on a team [with the Brewers] to all of a sudden being, not old, but more experienced than a lot of the guys [here],” McGehee said. “I think more than anything I’m more excited about trying to help being one of the parts that gets this thing going in the right direction.”
“I think that the guys that are here from last year showed that they can definitely be competitive, they can compete to win a division. Hopefully myself and some of the other guys that came in can just kind of add what they have in place here. I think as a group, when you really start looking at it and go from position to position, we’ve got some guys that can give anybody a run for their money.”
Playing in Milwaukee reminds him of a lot of the things happening here in Pittsburgh and he’s excited to be a part of it.
“I got there a little bit later to the party in Milwaukee, as far as of where they were in their rebuilding process, but it kind of reminds me of a lot of where they were a year or two before I got there, where you can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel,” McGehee said. “I don’t see any reason why that can’t be the situation here.”