On the telephone, Jeff Clement sounded awfully cheerful for a man living in 21-degree temperatures.
"A couple of weeks ago, it was below zero," Clement said. "That's Iowa in the winter."
Clement had reason to be happy. A few months ago, he moved into a new home not far from Des Moines, he and his wife are expecting their first child in March and his rehabilitation from season-ending knee surgery is going well.
Be the first to know.
No one covers what is happening in our community better than we do. And with a digital subscription, you'll never miss a local story.
"I'm good to go, physically," he said. "I won't have any restrictions when camp opens. I'm lucky I had the surgery when I did (Sept. 9) instead of waiting until the end of the year. Doctors said I could have done more damage to the meniscus and the rehab time would have been longer.
"There's no reason to think the knee will be an issue again."
The question many fans have raised in the off-season is where Clement's immediate future is with the Seattle Mariners – at catcher, first base or designated hitter.
It's not a question for Clement.
"I'm a catcher, period," he said. "I've heard that stuff since high school, and I still hear it, but I've worked hard to improve as a catcher. I can be more consistent, I can be better, but I'm a catcher until they tell me I'm not, and no one has."
And he's fired up for a new season.
"I flipped by the new major league baseball channel the other day and the focus was on the 1995 season, and about a third of it was about the Mariners that year," Clement said. "That was pretty cool, watching that team. I grew up a big Ken Griffey Jr. fan, and watching him against the Yankees – he hit five home runs in that series! – really got me going.
"I'm looking forward to getting to camp. There have been a lot of changes since last year, but when you lose 102 games, changes is probably good."