Zak Blair’s personality has pretty much always been geared toward baseball and the tools of his trade match that perfectly.
As in, walk softly and carry a big stick.
Three weeks into his professional baseball career, the former Jefferson star is doing exactly that.
Playing for the Arizona League Cubs, the Mercyhurst University graduate is swinging a red-hot bat, to the tune of a robust .444 clip.
So much so, in fact, he is leading the entire 13-team league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), hits and RBI.
In other words, the first-year Cub is proving to be a bear for AZL hurlers.
“It’s gone really, really well,” the 20th-round draft pick of the Cubs said in a telephone interview at 2 a.m. Sunday (11 p.m. Arizona time) after just leaving the ballpark following an 8-6 Cubs win against the AZL Athletics in Mesa.
Blair led the hit parade for the Cubs in the victory, going 3-for-4, with two doubles, three runs batted in, two runs scored and a walk.
“It was a good day,” the son of David and Carol Blair said.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound left-handed swinging infielder laughed when made that obvious understatement.
Blair’s humble reaction when quizzed about how things have been going is a byproduct of a game in which how a player deals with failure is more important than how he handles success.
“I would never call baseball a job, because it’s my dream, but I can see what guys do drop out of the game,” he said. “Because it really is such a game of failure... and how you deal with it.”
Blair took me through a typical day for him in his new life.
“Well, first, I’m living in a Best Western,” he said with a laugh. “It’s not a hotel, it’s a motel. I live with a guy from Seton Hall.
“I wake up before 10 and get some breakfast, then go back to the room and watch some TV and relax. I’m at the ballpark by 1:45 to get in some extra work and break a little sweat.
“After that, I go back to the locker room and grab a bit to eat, with lots of fruit and water. At 3, we go out for what they call ‘early work,’ on a half-field, which is only an infield, and we take ground balls, work on double plays and situations.
“Basically, we have a two-hour practice before we play each game. After the early work, we take a break and go play the game.
“It’s pretty regimented.”