After nine years in the New York Yankees organization, Shelley Duncan is trying to break through with the Cleveland Indians.
Duncan, a former Arizona Wildcat and Canyon del Oro High School product, returned to his hometown Monday for a Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He went 0 for 2 and played right field during the Indians' 3-2 victory at Tucson Electric Park and said he was able to reconnect with a couple of friends.
He is competing with Austin Kearns and Trevor Crowe for a bench job. Duncan will play in the outfield and first base this spring. Fellow Arizona products Crowe (who went 0 for 3) and shortstop Jason Donald (who went 0 for 2 with a run scored) also played against the D-backs.
Duncan discussed his future with the Indians, and his 2009 season, when he was named the Triple-A International League Most Valuable Player after he hit 30 home runs with 99 RBIs. He has hit .219 in 68 major-league at-bats.
On his fresh start
"Being in one place for nine years and going to a new place, you get that fresh feeling, but I really just keep trying to tell myself to go about my business the same way, not try to do anything more."
On competition in the Indians organization
"I don't really think about it. If I start thinking about that, I'll take focus off the work I need to get done. As long as I take care of myself, focus on myself and what I need to do to get ready for the season, I'll put myself in position that I need to be in."
On his success in Triple-A last season
"It was my third year in the league, a lot of experience. I didn't really change much. As you get older you get wiser and get better. It's a case of being in a place that I'm comfortable. I was really trying to work my way out of that league and unfortunately just didn't really have a spot open up."
On his new organization
"There's great people in this organization. We have a great manager and great coaching staff. There's a lot of young guys, position players that are here and seem to be full of energy. It's the right spot for me. I just hope I can contribute to this team winning ballgames."