Ask Jack: Baseball's Mark DeRosa on Career Change

MLB NetworkOn the field and on the air: MLB Central co-host Mark DeRosa.

This is Major League Baseball's Opening Week... and not just on the field! On Monday, MLB Central -- MLB Network's brand-new morning show -- made its debut. The program airs live each weekday at 10 a.m. eastern. Co-host Mark DeRosa is familiar to fans across the country from his playing days. After all, he's a veteran of 16 Major League seasons with 8 different teams. "DeRo" reached the playoffs six times, batting an impressive .358!

Mark DeRosa retired after the 2013 season to join MLB Network as a studio analyst. As a former teammate of more than 200 current players, he adds a unique "insider's" voice to the on-air proceedings. But just like anyone who's had to change careers, Mark's new gig took a little adjustment. In this special installment of "Ask Jack," this time I asked the questions, finding out about Mark's transition from the diamond to the TV studio!ASK JACK: Did you ever think about broadcasting as an option when you were still playing?
MARK DeROSA: Not until the end. I think it kind of just materialized from having a voice in the clubhouse, wanting that voice to be heard, and wanting to give a fresh perspective on what it's like to be a player and what's said. I think sometimes it's misrepresented and I wanted to kind of be the voice of the players.

AJ: What were the biggest challenges in making the transition?
MD: Obviously being on live TV, and being critical of guys. I feel like if you're just going to be vanilla and love on everybody, it's not really good TV. I think you have to have an opinion every day -- good, bad, indifferent -- but there's a way you can phrase a negative opinion by shedding a little positivity on it. For example, if Chase Utley makes a costly error, it's not my job to tear him down; it's my job to say, "He's one of the better second basemen of recent generations and a potential Hall of Fame candidate, but he'd be the first to tell you that he should've made that play." I just think there's a different way to go about it than to just cut a guy down, because I know how hard it is to go out there.

AJ: Any funny memories from your earliest days as a broadcaster?
MD: I think for me it's not so much the funny moments -- it's been amazing. It's been way more laid back than I ever could've imagined, that's what makes this place so special. Working with guys like Dan Plesac and Greg Amsinger -- all those guys, they just have such personalities, it's so easy to just fall into the show and forget that the cameras are around you.

I think early on, you're so panicked about live TV -- I always said I'd sit there and prepare and grind over statistics for hours on end before I'd come to the studio, and then in the studio, then they'd do the countdown for the show to start, and my mind would just erase everything that I just studied for the last 24 hours. It's just like anything else; when I started to relax a little bit, I felt like my shows got better.

AJ: Have there been things to deal with that were really unexpected?
MD: I don't want to say it's unexpected, but more than I thought: The players are always watching. I'm in contact with a lot of them just by playing with them and being friends, golfing, whatever the case may be coming across them, and they mention things to me that I didn't realize. Whether it be a tie I wore on a certain show, the way my hair was, or a comment that I made that they disagreed with or agreed with, they are always watching.

AJ: What advice would you give to someone who has to change careers?
MD: Be yourself. Be yourself, that's the biggest thing. Be honest, and know where you stand. I knew where I stood as a player. I knew that at the end of the day, I never was asked to carry a baseball team or bat third or fourth in the lineup, but I also knew I played an integral part in the success of the teams I was on, whether it be out there on the field or in the clubhouse or motivating or kicking someone in the tail, I always felt I had the ability to do that. For me, if I'm honest on the air, I feel like the players will know it's coming from a good place. That's been the biggest thing -- if I have an opinion, whether it be positive or negative, it's got to be said.

Last week's "April Fools" Ask Jack questions

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Jack's Job of the Week

I know what you're thinking: "I just read that great interview and now I want a job in baseball too!" Well, we can't all be stars on MLB Network, but you could be a Security Officer for the single-A Stockton Ports! Imagine yourself, patrolling beautiful Banner Island Ballpark, on the lookout for suspicious activity -- now that's excitement! But if security isn't your thing, there are thousands of other great job listings coast-to-coast, in every possible field, so do your own search on AOL Jobs. Your new career is sure to be a hit!
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