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Sean Casey likes to talk....


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Don't let Sean Casey's home-plate confrontation with Eddie Perez last week create a false impression: He'd rather chat than spat.


Casey, off to a .435 start in his seventh season as Cincinnati's first baseman, is so inherently friendly and communicative that Reds manager Dave Miley warned coach Randy Whisler to keep an eye on him in spring training.


"Randy configures where we play people," Miley said. "I told him, 'You have to stay on Case, because he'll be talking to everybody. He'll never look in at you.' "


Interaction is a byproduct of Casey's position. Hitters get annoyed by gabby catchers, and second and third basemen aren't close enough to engage in give-and-take with baserunners. First base, in contrast, has plenty of traffic and enough casual interludes to make for conversation in bite-sized chunks.


By the time Casey has taken the field, chances are he's already conversed with the cab driver, the security guard, the clubhouse attendant, reporters, teammates, coaches, the manager and the grounds crew. So it's only natural that he'll check in with opponents at his work station.



Want to know what's been the key to Sean Casey's hot start at the plate? Just ask him.

"I can't imagine standing over there, having somebody next to me who's probably not going anywhere, and not having something to say," Casey said. "The thing is, I'm in the game too. I don't talk to people when I'm about to get off the bag."


Casey has several rules of etiquette in initiating conversation. He'll never distract a baserunner who might be stealing, which pretty much left Rickey Henderson out of the mix. He also makes sure to give the runner time to pick up signs from the third-base coach before he offers up a "How's it goin'?"


In 1999, Casey and Cubs outfielder Henry Rodriguez were so engrossed in a discussion that Rodriguez never saw the Cincinnati pitcher -- Casey thinks it was Ron Villone -- throw over to first base.


"I felt so bad when we picked him off," Casey said. "Henry was chatting at me, getting his lead, and I was chatting at him, and he didn't even move. I put the tag on him and said, 'Sorry about that.' He wasn't mad. What are you going to do?"


Time constraints pretty much leave out Presidential campaign strategy, the Mars Rover mission or the hunt for Osama bin Laden as potential topics for discussion at first base. But ballplayers might talk about weather, the wife and kids, upcoming road trips or the unfairness of Kerry Wood's curveball.


Last year ESPN miked Casey during a game, and Jeffrey Hammonds, Casey's friend and former Cincinnati teammate, reached base and began talking about how his wife had just given birth to a boy.


"I hope he looks like mama," Casey said as Hammonds took his lead, and they both busted out laughing for the TV cameras.


Casey, also known as "The Mayor," recently sat down with Baseball Insider and picked his All-Conversation team (consisting of both active and retired players).


Mark McGwire

"He was so nice to me and so down to earth. I remember him always striking up a conversation. I'd be like, 'Hey Mac, how you doin'?' And he'd say, 'Hey, Sean.' I couldn't believe he even knew my name.


"One time we intentionally walked him and Jack McKeon wanted me to play behind him. I was like, 'Dang it. I don't get to talk to him.' The next at bat, we intentionally walked him again, and I ignored it. I went and held him on the bag. I'm like, 'How you doin' Mac?' It's my first conversation with him, and McKeon is trying to get my attention. He's over there yelling 'Hey Case!!' McGwire turns to me and says, 'Hey Sean, I think they want you.' And I look in the dugout and they're screaming, 'PLAY BEHIND HIM!!' "


Mark Grace

"He would crack me up. I remember one time in Chicago, he hadn't had a hit in a while. He was in a little skid, 0-15 or something, and he singled to left and got to first base and just kept going on about it. He had me rolling."


Lance Berkman

"He and I have become buddies over the years. I've gotten to know his wife Cara and his family. He'll joke about his swing sometimes. He'll be hitting like .370 and he'll say, 'I'm the worst player in the league.' I'm like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' "


Jeff Bagwell

"He's always a guy I looked up to, and he's probably one of the nicest guys in the game. Just watch how he goes about his business. He does it the right way, I think.


"We've developed a pretty cool relationship, me and Bags. We'll talk baseball, and he has two little girls, so he'll talk about his family or the next road trip. Sometimes we'll talk about the weather. 'Hopefully the weather holds up,' we'll say. It's like we become weathermen over there."


Admin Walker

"He's a guy you can joke around and have a good time with. He'll get a hit and I'll say, 'Cool, I'll have Admin over here.' One time he broke his bat and blooped one over shortstop. I can't remember what he said, but I know it was funny."


Tony Gwynn

"I'd ask him questions about hitting when he was getting his lead. He was such a good hitter, I'd talk to him if there was a pitching change or something going on. One time I asked him, 'How do you go to left field like that, anyway?' "


Dave Dellucci

"We came up at the same time in the minors. He got called up to Baltimore, then they sent him back down. And I couldn't wait until he got on base so he could tell me what the big leagues were like.


"We were in Bowie, Md., and I asked him, 'Was it awesome up there? What's the biggest difference?' He told me, 'The biggest difference is, they don't throw anything straight up there.' So I'm like, 'Really?'


"Now every time Looch gets on, we reminiscence about our time in the minors. Sometimes we'll rehash that conversation, and I'll say, 'Remember that time when you got called up?' He was the guy in the minors who'd had a big-league experience before everybody else."



he's a funny guy

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When your hitting over .400 you can talk all you want.


Case is an excellent hitter, one of the better pure hitters in the game. He doesn't get the recognition of other 1st baseman because of his lack of power, but this guy is a ballplayer who brings it everyday, and a great hitter, and you gotta love that.

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