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08/03/06 4:52 PM ET

Mientkiewicz wants to stick around KC

First baseman wants to be a part of Royals turnaround

Royals first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz fielded fans' questions online Thursday. He chatted about challenging for playing time when he returns from the disabled list, mentoring young players and turning the Royals organization around.

Mientkiewicz: Hi, this is Doug Mientkiewicz, thanks for stopping by today to chat. Feel free to ask whatever you want to within reason and I will be as open as I can!

steve2009: Do you understand why the Royals traded for Ryan Shealy when they have you, Justin Huber and Mike Sweeney?

Mientkiewicz: Yes. Depth is a great thing to have as an organization. As you can see right now we are all hurt! Ryan has been given a great chance here. That is how the game works. I have helped plenty of young guys in the past and if my track record continues, Ryan will go on to have a tremendous year (See: Justin Morneau and Mike Jacobs)!

andrewstebbins: Hey Doug, why No. 11?

Mientkiewicz: I've been No. 16 forever, but when we signed Reggie Sanders, I knew that was all she wrote for me and No. 16. I asked my mom, who was battling cancer at the time, and she said to wear No. 11 because that was the date my son, Steel, was born.

wolfden: How have you enjoyed your time thus far with the Royals, record aside?

Mientkiewicz: Friends of mine always ask that. They think because of the record they think I'm miserable and that could not be further from the truth! I've enjoyed every minute of this year and would be extremely open to coming back to help this franchise stay in the positive direction it is going.

AnnMarie_Kraemer: Hi Doug! We miss you in New York. How is your back feeling today?

Mientkiewicz: Hi Anne Marie! I got your email and I will respond today, I promise. My back is doing great, I'll be back soon. David Wright called after his hat trick (shocker) and needed a hug.

Base_Ball_3: What do you think are the keys for a Detroit-like turnaround in Kansas City? You were part of one in Minnesota.

Mientkiewicz: Pitching, pitching, pitching. Depth is also a key. In Minnesota we had a group of guys that had the chance to stay together (like the boys in Wichita) and win at every level. We had a system that we all bought into and it turned into being three games from the World Series. Too many people these days buy into stats and what is on the back of a baseball card. Look at the Twins' stats from 2001-04 and you will see stats that weren't great at all, but we played together and did the little things. Stats do not equate to wins. Heart does.

Andrea_Mientkiewicz: What do you do in the offseason? Is your family nice?

Mientkiewicz: No, especially my sister! I'm kidding. My family is great, a little crazy but I wouldn't change it for the world. Now go put up my hurricane shutters.

shena: What do you think of Mark Teahen's recent success?

Mientkiewicz: Awesome! We all could not be happier for Mark. I think it goes to show that you should not rush people to the big leagues. I went from Double-A to the Majors and got totally humiliated my first go around! I won the batting title in Double-A and then preceded to hit .229 my rookie year.

none1234567890: Hey Doug. I just signed you to my fantasy team.

Mientkiewicz: You need to go see a doctor right now!

shena: What was it like to win an Olympic gold medal?

Mientkiewicz: The most amazing feeling in the world. When they put the medal on my neck I looked up and was directly across from my wife, mom and dad, sister and her husband and I remember thinking this is the best moment of my life!

Base_Ball_2: What's more important -- having a great rotation or a bullpen? The starters the Royals have are fairly decent but the bullpen always seems to blow it.

Mientkiewicz: Bullpen. When we turned the corner in Minnesota we had a lights-out bullpen.

gogokc: Do you think you have a chance at getting a Gold Glove this year? How about Mark Grudzielanek?

Mientkiewicz: Me? No. I rank this as one of my most disappointing defensive years. That being said, the only other year I felt I played worse was the year I won it! As far as Grud, there is no better second baseman in the game than him. The fact that he does not have one is a tragedy.

bucky44: How much longer do you want to play this marvelous game of baseball?

Mientkiewicz: They are going to have to rip this jersey off my back. As long as I'm upright and can leave enough in the tank to throw batting practice to Steel, I will keep playing.

Travis_Hart: What do you think of the moves at the trade deadline?

Mientkiewicz: I think all have been nothing but positive! Dayton Moore has done a tremendous job so far. That being said, Allard Baird is a great baseball man and has been wrongfully victimized here. Dayton has seen the shortcomings of this organization and has started to correct the problem. He is a no-nonsense kind of man and I hope he keeps me around because I would run through a brick wall for him.

rock8888: At what point do you decide that a particular hat is too dirty and must be replaced with a new one? Is there a breaking in ritual for the new hat?

Mientkiewicz: If you haven't noticed, we are a small market team and I'm just doing my part to keep the cost for me at a minimum! Ha, ha. I just like old hats. I have changed my hat once. I had "KP" on my hat for Kirby Puckett and MLB made me change it.

Travis_Hart: Does the crowd noise or attendance affect the mood in the clubhouse?

Mientkiewicz: It doesn't affect the clubhouse but I can tell you that a bigger crowd makes it a lot easier to play in front of. I remember 2003 and coming here as a visitor was a little tougher because of how loud this place got! I'm glad I'm on the good side now. I enjoy playing on the road and getting screamed at. Nothing better than walking off someone else's field a winner. That's why I love playing in Yankee Stadium so much.

clintonde: Are you at all worried about your playing time after you return since newcomer Shealy will probably be getting a shot to be the Royals' future at first base?

Mientkiewicz: No, but that being said, I know how this game works. If Buddy Bell feels that Ryan is doing the job, then I have to wait my turn. There is nothing wrong with competition within your own team. It pushes everyone to play at their best every time you step on the field.

captainkirk07: How do you feel about the Royals finally coming to terms with Luke Hochevar and when do you expect to see him in the rotation?

Mientkiewicz: It's about time! Just kidding. You can never estimate when someone is ready. The baseball draft is a crapshoot. He will get his chance when he is ready. Whether he stays is completely up to him.

squirreljr: Do you think the Royals can be successful as a small-market team?

Mientkiewicz: Yes. I hate when people use that as an excuse. Being a small market makes it harder, but when you step between the white lines it doesn't matter how heavy your wallet is.

captainkirk07: What's the weirdest thing a fan has yelled to you?

Mientkiewicz: In the 2002 playoffs, I'm on deck in Game 1 against Oakland and this guy is all over my wife, Jodi, saying some really nasty things. Well I hit a three-run homer that at-bat and when I ran by him I said, "Don't ever talk about my wife again." He became one of my biggest fans in Oakland.

ahhting: What was is that made you take so much pride in your defense when everyone else is trying to hit the long ball?

Mientkiewicz: I have to do the little things that keep me around. It's not that I'm not trying to hit them, I just understand my game. When I go to a park that is a little smaller than the K, I try to elevate more. At home I just try to hit line drives and ground balls. You can drive in 80 runs with doubles just as you can with homers, it is just a little harder. I feel like this year I'm having one of my best years, regardless of what the numbers say. This division is a lot tougher than any other in baseball. Batting .280-.300 as a Royal would be a pretty big accomplishment, considering the pitching.

bucky44: Who, in your opinion, is the leader in the Royals clubhouse?

Mientkiewicz: I believe that there should be more than one. Age and time in the Majors has nothing to do with it. Numbers have nothing to do with it. Denny Hocking was a great leader in Minnesota. I owe a big chunk of my career to Denny. I tell the younger guys every day that they have a chance to be a big part of Royals history as the group who turned this franchise back into the way it used to be and should be. I'm most proud of the fact that I was a small part of a group of guys that brought back respect to a city (Minnesota) that is deserving of a good ballclub.

Mientkiewicz: All right, some of us have to work around here. Thanks for all of your questions. Hope to see you at the K.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.