One of the things I've learned to appreciate since joining the Phillies three seasons ago is that the club has made it a priority to keep a solid nucleus intact. Guys like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley are not only superstars, but they make our whole team go on and off the field.

The key guys have all stayed together and created an environment that's conducive to winning. The attitude in the clubhouse is a good one, and it's because of the group of guys we have.

I like playing with guys like this. They're so good, and they bring so many intangibles. It's been a lot of fun because we all care.

I had previously played for Toronto and the Dodgers, but this has been the best fit for me. Opportunities are really hard to come by in Major League Baseball. There have been a lot of really good players who have never been given much of a chance. Others get a chance and don't capitalize.

But I feel like I've got a good opportunity now, and I want to continue to make the most of it. I'm in an everyday role on a very successful team, and it's great.

Coming to Philadelphia in 2007, I was just off a wrist injury, but I also felt I was at a point in my career where I was ready to seize on a chance to perform on a regular basis.

I came up with the Blue Jays and then I spent some time with the Dodgers. I was a raw player back then. I was younger and I had never played the outfield until 2002. Since then, I think my skills have come along and my hitting has gotten a lot better.

I continue to try to cut down on my strikeouts, but I've become a much better hitter when I do have two strikes. I'm comfortable deep in the count and I'm always among the league leaders in most pitches seen. That's a big part of my game -- working pitchers and getting deep into counts. That's all come with experience.

And I still feel like I'm maturing as a player and continuing to develop my skills. One of those skills is the ability to steal bases. Davey Lopes has been a great instructor for me. I've always felt like I've had the speed and instincts necessary to steal bases but Davey has brought out the best in me.

Davey was a prolific basestealer as a player, but he's an even better teacher. He has that ability to accelerate the learning process for a young player.

Jayson Werth joined the Phillies in 2007, and last year established career highs in games (134), home runs (24) and RBIs (67) to help lead the Phillies to their second World Series championship. Werth also stole 20 bases in 21 chances in '08, and this season he has been successful in 12 of his 14 stolen-base attempts, including stealing home on May 12 against the Dodgers.