04/12/11 9:23 PM ET
NFL star Fitzgerald takes hacks with D-backs
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
"I'm going to say this first: I'm taking this off the list of things I would think about even trying to do if the lockout goes into the season," Fitzgerald said, referring to the NFL's labor strife. "I always knew it was tough and have a tremendous amount of respect for the guys out here. This is definitely a gift that I don't possess."
Wearing his football number (11) on the back of a D-backs jersey with his name on it, Fitzgerald was given a new set of batting gloves as he stepped in against bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas.
The All-Pro receiver swung and missed at the first handful of offerings and D-backs hitting coach Don Baylor told him he was pulling his head off the ball.
After that little bit of advice, Fitzgerald was able to hit a few ground balls in the infield.
"They helped me make contact with the ball," Fitzgerald said of Baylor and manager Kirk Gibson, who chimed in with advice of his own. "But it wasn't going in the right direction and it wasn't going the distance I was hoping for either. I didn't think I would fail that miserably. I always expect the best out of myself and that was not it."
Fitzgerald stepped out of the cage for a few minutes as Baylor and Gibson worked with him a little more. When he got back in there, he hit a few balls into the outfield.
"It's tough," Gibson said. "It wasn't really fair, he hadn't practiced, there were some shadows and probably a little bit of pressure, but he did fine. He's still got to stick to football."
Gibson, an All-American receiver at Michigan State University, enjoyed talking football with Fitzgerald, who was impressed that Gibson was able to excel at baseball as well.
"That's a great jump to be special in two sports," Fitzgerald said. "That's saying a lot."
As one D-backs player gave Fitzgerald some grief for an awkward swing, former D-back great Luis Gonzalez said, "Hey, you've taken some swings like that yourself in a ballgame. We all have."
Gibson was asked how he thought he compared to Fitzgerald as a receiver.
"Different ages," he said. "I was in the '70s. I enjoyed it. It was my makeup. I was most of the time the fastest guy on the field. I was kind of tall for the game, but he's way taller. Now everyone is big. I enjoyed the contact as well."
Fitzgerald was promoting his upcoming celebrity softball and comedy night that will be held April 23 to benefit the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund and Partners in Malawi. It is being organized by Assist-4-Africa.
Fitzgerald's former Cardinals teammates Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin are among the celebrities expected to play.
"I'm expecting a great turnout," he said. "It's going to be a great event and I'm really looking forward to it."