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10/19/06 1:48 PM ET

Buck relishing AFL opportunity

A's prospect checks in with fans via online chat

Oakland Athletics prospect Travis Buck chatted online with fans on Thursday morning. The former Arizona State Sun Devil, who is currently playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League, talked about returning to Arizona, the major influences on his baseball career and the injuries that shortened his season.

Travis Buck: Hi everyone, welcome to the chat.

mayoj: Hey Travis. How much fun is it for you to be back in Arizona, so close to ASU, this fall? It must bring back some good college memories.

Buck: Brings back some of the best moments of my baseball career -- playing at Arizona State, getting to the College World Series and having that program jumpstart my professional career -- some of the best memories of my young career so far.

molly629: After being out of the game for a few months, what are you looking forward to most when you return?

Buck: Just being out there playing again. It was tough for me to watch the game for three months not being able to play. Just the competition of the game, going out there and competing.

matt3573: Morning, Travis. It's commonly said that the jump from Class A to Double-A is the toughest. What did you think was the toughest part after your promotion?

Buck: The quality of pitching is a lot better; the pitchers throw all their pitches for strikes and just know how to pitch. You can't just look for one pitch, you've got to be able to hit them all in any count. Double-A pitchers throw any pitch at any given time.

zimmy22: Hi Travis. You came back from injury with some really strong offensive games. What was your attitude at the plate in your first game back in the AFL?

Buck: I was just excited to be out there and play again. I wasn't expecting to have the offensive output that I did in my first game back in three months, but I'll take it. Hopefully I can do it a lot more often.

spree32: Are you excited about being back in Phoenix, being an ASU guy?

Buck: Yes, I just bought a house down here last year, so this is my offseason home. Also, being able to play in front of ASU fans again is fun and something that I'm enjoying.

molly629: Hi Travis. Arizona is such a beautiful place. What do you do in your downtime?

Buck: Hang out with a lot of my friends and former teammates. Having a house in Arizona, it's a must that you have a pool, so lots of laying out by the pool. I also take my dog, Kali, out for walks.

matt3573: Who would you say has had the biggest influence on you as a baseball player?

Buck: Growing up, it would be my older brothers and my parents that always supported me. My head coach at ASU, Pat Murphy, taught me how to be a professional baseball player on and off the field. So without him and my family, I wouldn't be nearly the person I am today.

mayoj: From a strained oblique to a hip flexor and a sports hernia -- do you think you know more about the human body than you ever wanted to?

Buck: Yeah, if anybody wants to know more about those specific areas, I'm an expert by default.

matt3573: Who was the toughest pitcher you faced in either of the leagues you played in this year?

Buck: Pretty much the whole pitching staff on the Corpus Christi Hooks. They knew how to pitch and having a big-league catcher in J.R. House catching them, they were a handful.

mayoj: Is there anyone in the AFL, hitter or pitcher, you were particularly looking forward to seeing this fall?

Buck: I'm looking forward to watching former Pac-10 players Trevor Crowe and Jacoby Ellsbury play and Mike Pelfry, who was my roommate with Team USA, pitch.

eastcoastoakfan: Travis, did you play in many high school showcases like the World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla? And if so, how much did those showcases help you out as far as MLB and college scouting?

Buck: No, I didn't play in hardly any showcases. I only went to the Area Code Games. I wasn't that heavily recruited coming out of high school.

Zach_Kroymann: Who was your idol as a kid growing up?

Buck: I looked up to former New York Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly. I just loved how hard he competed and how great a hitter he was.

Zach_Kroymann: Do you still keep in touch with Jeff Larish and all the other guys?

Buck: I still try to keep in touch with some of my former teammates and good friends. But since we all play professional baseball in different parts of the country, it's tough to communicate during the season.

Buck: Time for one last question.

mayoj: You're lucky to be in an organization that allows for a certain amount of individual freedom in terms of appearances. Hypothetically, if you got traded, say, to the Yankees, how hard would it be for you to keep the hair short?

Buck: It would be tough since I'm kind of known for having my hair long now. Going from an organization like Oakland, where it allows players to have as much freedom to do pretty much anything, to a stricter one like New York would be tough, but it's all part of the business. If Oakland wanted me to cut my hair, I would cut my hair.

Buck: Thanks for joining the chat. It's time for me to start getting ready for practice.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.