Jeff Kent enjoyed a 17-year career in the major leagues, including six seasons with the San Francisco Giants (1997-2000) -- a tenure during which he captured a National League Most Valuable Player award and made a trip to the World Series.
But now, Kent, 44, is part of a very different kind of game. As a cast member of "Survivor: Philippines," he tried to outwit, outlast and outplay 17 other back-stabbing contestants on the popular reality TV series.
Sworn to secrecy by his contractual obligation to CBS, Kent isn't able to provide many specifics about his time on the island, which occurred this past spring. However, he did reflect on the experience during a recent phone interview.
Q You enjoyed incredible success, fame and wealth as a ballplayer. Why even go on "Survivor"?
A I'll answer that question with another question: Why not? I think a lot of people have a perception of retired professional athletes that they're set in their ways, that they made a lot of money and have basically stopped living. To me, that's boring. I've tried to stay active in various ways, and I still have a competitive streak.
Q Were you a big fan of the show?
A Absolutely. I've watched it right from the beginning and loved it. Out of all the reality shows on TV, it always seemed to me to be the least cheesy and the most real. When they asked me if I was interested, I jumped at the chance. But I had to go through the process just like everyone else, and I thought they'd kick me to the curb somewhere along the way. They strung me along and, at the eleventh hour, they said, "You're in."
Q Who's your favorite "Survivor" player over the years?
A The person who made the biggest impression on me was the fat, naked gay guy -- Richard Hatch. He had a great personality and really played strategically. From the moment he got on that island, he stirred up the drama.
Q You and teammate Barry Bonds never really got along and even had an infamous dugout scuffle. How would things go if you both were on the same "Survivor" island?
A Of all the Giants teams I played on, I truthfully had a better relationship with Barry than anyone else in the clubhouse. I understood him and knew what made him tick. I gave him his space, and I knew that we needed him. Sure, we didn't really like each other, but we worked well together.
But if it came down to the final tribal council, would I vote for Barry? Probably not.
Q Ballplayers typically rib each other about almost anything. What kind of reaction did you get from baseball types when they found out you went on "Survivor"?
A Exactly what you would expect: lots of jokes and put-downs and criticism. Guys asked if I was kidding. If I was crazy. But then a funny thing happened: After they were done with their stupid jokes, a lot of them were very curious to know what it was like. Did you starve out there? Lose weight? Like most people, they're intrigued by the whole experience of "Survivor."
Q So what were the biggest challenges for you? Anything surprise you?
A Well, I was a Boy Scout when I was young, and I'm a troop leader for our church now. I've owned a ranch and have done a lot of hunting and fishing, so I knew that the outdoors challenges really wouldn't be a problem.
On the other hand, the social game was a big challenge. I have a hard time with people who talk too much or get under your skin or act lazy and stupid. It's such a chess game out there. You've got to develop friendships quickly, find out who's lying and who's not. ... You'll have to watch to see how all that turned out.
Q A lot of people will be watching with one eye on "Survivor" and the other on the pennant race. How do you think the Giants will fare?
A I'm prejudiced, but I really like their chances. They've shown the kind of resiliency that other teams (in the NL West) haven't. They don't have a lot of big-name players, but they get the hits when they need them and play solid defense. They also have the kind of strong pitching you need in the postseason.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday