When I made the decision to sign with San Diego over the winter, I didn't anticipate the team being as successful as we've been, but I don't think anybody did.

I say that because a lot of things have to go right to have success. You have to have everybody healthy, and everybody has to play good baseball. A lot goes into winning.

This year, on the field, we've simply played good baseball. We've pitched very well, and we've played good defense. We've also enjoyed timely hitting, and sometimes things have just gone our way. But over the course of the year, you need that.

I did anticipate this being a good team. I knew that first-hand after facing them last year late in the season. They were playing with a lot of confidence. They had a young roster, and those guys didn't seem worried about anything. It seems like a lot of that has carried into this year. The guys, the younger guys, have played with a lot of confidence.

Spring Training is a hard time of the year to gauge confidence, especially for a team that is relatively young. You might get that sense if you join a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, teams with a lot of veteran players, but coming here in the spring there were just so many guys in the clubhouse I was not familiar with. As you get toward the end of Spring Training, though, the numbers get smaller, and you get more of a sense of team.

Still, I could see something was here. I could just see the anticipation. I could see the core group of guys wanting to get out there and get things started. I could see that they were hungry, and when guys are hungry, good things happen.

My role with this club is very similar to the role I've filled on my previous clubs: I take the ball every five days. But I'm not a very vocal leader. People might appreciate a veteran presence, but I'm still not too vocal. I like what I do on the field, I like how I carry myself. I let the way I conduct business speak for me. I've been around; I've been on a World Series team and I've experienced the playoffs a couple of times.

PETCO Park plays to the strengths as a pitcher, too. I'm a pitch-to-contact type of guy compared to the guy who reaches back to 100 mph and strikes a lot of hitters out. When you do that, you can pitch in a bathroom, but for me and my approach this park helps. Still, my goal is to get groundballs, to get double plays behind me.

I'm also backed up here by an outstanding bullpen. What they've accomplished so far this season is impressive. So many of those guys have been locked in. That's huge for our team. Our starters have a lot of confidence in the bullpen.

Veteran Jon Garland is enjoying another fine season. He is currently 8-5 with a 3.24 ERA over 17 starts for the first-place Padres.