…maybe that’s because T.J. Simers’ questions aren’t very interesting?

I knew from experience Garciaparra would be pleasant before unleashing the cliches designed to keep the notebook empty, and the interview short. But I was determined to learn whether the performer on the field, who can be so charismatic, is really as dull off it as he appears in the clubhouse, or is it just an act?

“Oh my gosh,” Garciaparra exclaimed, and I’m not sure I have ever heard Garciaparra exclaim before. I didn’t even think it was possible.

“I’m not a good actor in any way,” he exclaimed again, hands waving in the air, and if he was trying to act now for my benefit, he was right, he’s no actor. “They had me go on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and I told them, ‘I can’t act.’ So no, I’m not acting.”

OK, so he was making a good case that he’s just dull, but I still couldn’t believe it. No way Mia Hamm falls for a dull baseball player ” even though she is a soccer player.

I told him I really wanted to know what made him so good, and pointed to Tiger Woods’ incredible PGA performance, and asked Garciaparra, “Wouldn’t you like the chance to ask Tiger what makes him so good?”

“No,” Garciaparra said, making it almost impossible to offer any other follow-up question beyond “You can’t be serious?”

“I can never be Tiger,” he said as if there was a limit to the number of words he can say each day.

“Wouldn’t you like to know what’s going on inside a fellow competitor?”

“It’s something innate, and can’t be explained,” Garciaparra said. “If Tiger could explain it, they’d bottle it and sell it. He’s just blessed.”

“Haven’t you ever asked Mia what drove her as a competitor?”

“No,” he said, and I can’t blame someone for not initiating a discussion about soccer.

I wondered, though, whether I was listening to an athlete who was constructing a wall around himself. If there’s no reason to learn more about Tiger, then there’s no reason to dig deeper into what makes Garciaparra go.

A player as productive as Garciaparra is going to be repeatedly and relentlessly hit with questions about what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. And if not blessed with the gift of gab ¦ sometimes that wall can appear in the form of an intimidating Jeff Kent, or an uncooperative Kenny Lofton ” although why anyone would want to talk to Lofton is beyond me.