I played golf and soccer well before I ever played baseball. I want to say I started golf when I was 6, but it was just a hobby. My best friend's dad was a golf fanatic and he lived on a ranch, so we just hit balls into the desert all day. I started playing soccer at 7 or 8, and I was really good at it and I loved it. But baseball? I didn't start until I was 9. Baseball was definitely my dad's idea, but it was never forced on me or anything. It was just something I loved to do. Whenever we got home from the field, I'd still want to go into the backyard and play catch.
The middle school days
I started Little League around 8 or 9 and played for three years. I pitched and played shortstop and made the Little League all-star team all three years too. We had a pretty competitive team -- even in Tucson, Ariz. Lots of good players from that area at the time; J.J. Hardy played with us in the summer league. A lot of those guys went on to play in college and a few of them even made it to the bigs. I played on the Cubs, and we were always sponsored by local businesses -- Mama's Pizza or something. I loved those times. I would just come home from school and complete my homework as fast as I could, and then my parents would drop me off at the field, whether I was playing or not. We had water-balloon fights, played pickle, all of that.
The high school years
I was really good in high school [Canyon del Oro High; Oro Valley, Ariz.]. Senior year I batted .504, but I was never recruited to a D1 school out of high school for some reason, which was weird. I was leading my team in everything, and I got drafted in the 29th round by the D-Backs, but I was never recruited to go anywhere. The local junior college gave me a scholarship of some sort, and I can't remember what it was, but I verbally committed. And it worked out great. After a year and a half of juco, I think the biggest turning point for me was going to Arizona State and sitting on the bench for the first time, really failing for the first time. I was the shortstop and I was hitting 2-something, making errors and then we had the Pac-10 season. I sat on the bench for the rest of the season. That was a tough time, but it was definitely a learning experience.