Adduci's lesson from dad: Have fun

Adduci's lesson from dad: Have fun

DETROIT -- Stepping out of the shower after a game, a 9-year-old Jim Adduci asked his dad a question that crosses the mind of almost every young ballplayer.

"Hey, Dad," Adduci said. "Do you think I could be a Major League Baseball player?"

Adduci's father, also named Jim, knew what it took to make the Majors as an 11-year pro who spent parts of four seasons with the Cardinals, Brewers and Phillies. And more than two decades later, the younger Adduci is a right fielder with the Tigers in his third MLB season as part of a 14-year professional career aided by the knowledge of his father's path through the ranks.

Adduci was 6 when his father, who spent years bouncing around the Minors and moved his family nearly 40 times in a decade, finished playing pro baseball. But the younger Adduci, now 32, was never far from the sport, spending weekends hitting in cages and off tees while his dad directed Elite Baseball for the Bulls/Sox Academy outside Chicago, which features summer camps, lessons and travel teams.

Adduci embraced baseball quickly. His father, now 57, made sure his son played only because he wanted to.

"I wanted my son to have a great experience, and I wanted him to enjoy playing," the elder Jim said. "I didn't push him or say, 'I'm going to build a Major League Baseball player here.'"

As a high school senior committed to Northern Illinois University, Adduci was drafted by the Marlins in the 42nd round of the 2003 Draft. Instead of heading to college like his dad, who was a 28th-round pick out of high school, Adduci chose to sign.

"I guess the way I see it, I grew up watching my father play," Adduci said. "I didn't watch college baseball. I watched the Cubs, I watched the White Sox all the time. That's all I dreamed about."

So Adduci embarked on what's been a lengthy career, waiting nine years before his MLB debut and spending a successful stint in Asia. His father attended games when he could, making three-hour drives to Peoria, Ill., and seven-hour trips to Tennessee, as well as to Daytona, Fla., and Korea.

Watching his son is easier now, Jim said, as the Tigers were just a cable package upgrade away.

"It's fun," he said. "As long as I can control my heart rate, we're fine."

Adduci, who spends the offseason in College Station, Texas, while most of his family still lives in the Chicago area, is a father of three, and said it can be challenging to spend time with family when he's working hard to play baseball at the highest level. It's no different than the situation he and his two sisters had growing up.

"Obviously, when you're young, you just want to hang out with your dad," Adduci said. "I just hope that when [my children] get a little bit older, they understand that I followed my dream and I had to do what I had to do for my family."

Adduci is making his mark this season, as he was batting .318 in 13 games before a strained right oblique sidelined him on May 12. But there are a number of similarities between his dad's Major League stats and his own.

The younger Adduci has played in four more games, taken 32 more at-bats and recorded five more hits, but they have the same number of doubles, RBIs and home runs. Both have hit just one home run, something Jim hopes will change soon.

"I just told him, 'Listen, Jimbo, you've got to hit one more home run, man,'" he said, laughing. "We each have one home run in the big leagues. That can't happen. You've got to get one more home run. That's all I care about."

Truthfully, all the senior Adduci cares about is that his son enjoys the game. The two talk almost every day, mostly through text messages, though it's rarely about swing mechanics or fielding technique. From father to son, the advice is simple: Don't take baseball for granted.

"What do I leave him with and what do I say to him most of all?" Jim said. "Have fun. Even at his level. Hey, man, have fun. It goes quick."

Jordan Horrobin is a contributor to MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.