There are people who tell me I am too hard on myself, because I take a lot of stuff on my back. I do this with my family, too. I feel like I am responsible for my family's happiness. I do this partly to keep me humble and to remind myself to go out and always do my best.
I don't want to have any regrets in my life. It's the same thing in baseball. I push myself hard every day to get better.
I feel the emotion of every loss. I'm not businesslike. If I wasn't a professional ballplayer, I'd probably cry every time I lost a game! I feel this way because I really love the game. That's why I play. It's one way I put pressure on myself. If I was just playing for the money, I wouldn't push as hard as I do.
I think any work you do has to be for the love of it. If you're a doctor, you should do it because you love it, because you want to help people. I play baseball because I love to play the game and want to help my family.
Even though I've played two full seasons in the big leagues, I still feel like a rookie. I think I still have so much to learn. I know I've been blessed to have a lot of great veterans around me, when I was in Detroit and here in Atlanta. People have said I make what I do look easy, but if you come up in the big leagues and don't listen to the veterans and take advice, you'll never make it.
One of the coaches I used to talk to in Detroit used to tell me that not every piece of advice will work for you, but to listen to people, work on things and see what helps you. Even if you get advice from a future Hall of Famer, that doesn't mean it will work for you. Everybody has their own style. You listen, try it out, take what you can use and don't worry about what you can't.
This year, I want to have my first complete game. I want to get one or more complete games. I want to keep my ERA low. This past season I had my best strikeout total ever (152), and I want to keep improving that number. I had 34 starts and didn't miss any starts. I want to take every start they'll give me. I'll pitch on three days' rest if there's a big game.
I had around 215 innings in 2009, and I'd like to get around 220 this season. I can't dictate how many wins I get, because that number isn't always about me and what I do. But I'd like to get 18 or 19 wins.
I started working out in mid-October. I start early because it's so easy to get out of shape quickly in the offseason. So, I was working out while I was still in the United States before I headed home in early December.
Once I get home, I know there might be days that I'll miss working out, because I'm with my family or friends, or because of the holidays. If I've been consistent about working out before I get to Curacao, I know I can miss a day and not lose ground.
When I show up at Spring Training, I want to be ready to play. I don't use that time to get in shape. I need to be ready to get wins in April. I can't afford to have a bad April and pick it up later in the season.
My relationship with Javy Vazquez is like me and Ruben Gotay in 2008, close like brothers. Javy was a good friend in the clubhouse and out in the dugout during the games. He's the kind of guy who knows when to joke and knows when to be serious. People don't know how funny he is. We definitely have a lot in common. We like to laugh and joke, but we take baseball and our families very seriously.
Jair Jurrjens is 27-20 with a 3.10 ERA in his two seasons with the Braves. This article appears in ChopTalk magazine. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.