© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

12/18/09 12:54 PM EST

Batting around with Ryan Theriot

Shortstop focuses on durability, new leadership role

In 2009, Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot posted career highs in games (154), at-bats (602), home runs (seven), triples (five) and RBIs (54), but also in strikeouts (93) and errors (15). He batted .284 and led the team in games played and at-bats. Yet his success was bittersweet, because Chicago didn't make the playoffs. Theriot, who turned 30 on Dec. 7, assesses this past season and looks ahead.

MLB.com: What's the first thing you want to do this offseason?

Theriot: Fish. I like to fish saltwater, off the coast. Speckled trout, redfish.

MLB.com: When you were growing up, was there a baseball player you idolized?

Theriot: I liked [Cal] Ripken, I liked [Ryne] Sandberg, I liked Ozzie Smith. No, I never did a back flip. In the backyard, you'd pretend to be a big leaguer and you'd be a player for the day -- the flavor of the day. I liked [Ken] Griffey, but I wasn't a left-handed hitter. I'd play Wiffle Ball and swing like Griffey.

MLB.com: If you could trade places with someone in baseball for a day, who would it be?

Theriot: I'd like to know what it feels like to hit like Albert [Pujols]. I'd like to trade places with him for a day and hit some fastballs as far as I could. That'd be fun.

MLB.com: This offseason, when do you start your workouts?

Theriot: Every offseason is different. Normally, I take some time off. This year, I'll have more at-bats than I've ever had and more games played. I may take a little bit more time off. It's funny, two years ago, I was real tired after the season. Last year was a little better, and this year is a little better than last year. I've always heard it takes some getting used to. I feel pretty good right now [in late September]. Maybe I'll take two or three weeks off, but I'll probably be in the gym before that working out and stuff. Baseball, as far as that goes, probably December.

MLB.com: If you could be Lou Piniella for a day, what would you do?

Theriot: I'd get kicked out of a game. I'd fire my hat and throw a base.

MLB.com: Is there a comfort food you crave?

Theriot: Chocolate. Cake or brownies. I bake. Sometimes [my wife] will surprise me, but I like to bake. The kids enjoy it. They get eggshells in the batter. It's a little crunchy, but it's fun.

MLB.com: You're a young veteran on the team. This is your third full season. How do you assess the season?

Theriot: Obviously, it didn't end the way we planned, but you can't control that stuff. As for me, looking back on it, the durability, the number of at-bats, the consistency -- I'm proud of that. I'm going to have 600 at-bats when the season is over. There's a lot to be said for that. I'm proud that I've been able to go out every day and contribute at full speed. It says you're productive and you stay in the lineup. When a manager like Lou gives you that many at-bats, it shows you're doing something right. I think it says a lot. I'm proud of that.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.