I'm not sure what the best word or words are to describe my feelings about playing again this year after not playing last season. Maybe the word is surprised? Surprisingly, I've been able to get back into the swings of things as quickly as I have.

I had a pretty decent second half with the Cubs in 2008, but I didn't get any offers to play in 2009. Now, a year later, I come here to Milwaukee, and I'm getting a chance to play every two or three days. It's surprising to me how the game has changed recently, but I also feel fortunate to be here because I really didn't expect to be. So from that end, this has been a real bonus for me.

People ask me a lot about what I did last year when I wasn't playing. The way I answer that is that I did play -- I played a lot of golf and I played a lot with my kids. Those two things were great. I got to spend a lot of time with my family, and I got to spend a lot of time on the golf course.

I've played with a lot of guys for a lot of years for a couple of different teams. I know this situation is unique because beyond a guy sitting out for an injury or rehab, I've never played with a guy who just sat out an entire year. I don't think anybody in his right mind would sit out and try to come back.

You have to remember, though, that I didn't do this on purpose. It just happened. During the time I was away from the game, I still felt like I could do this, I still felt like I could play at this level. Being here now doesn't really feel that different to me. Rather, I just feel like I had a longer layoff, a longer offseason than most. To me, it doesn't really feel like I missed an entire season.

Staying in shape wasn't a problem. I think I was in better shape last year not playing. I initially took about two or three months off, then I really got into good shape.

I actually had to put weight back on to start playing again. I was thin, very lean. I was getting back to a normal lifestyle. I went on an extreme diet, and I ran every day. I was more in what I call off-the-field shape for the beach and for my family.

But when I decided to play again, I had to put on 10 pounds. It was actually harder to put the weight back on than it was to take the weight off.

In the end, this has been a different but positive experience for me these last 18 months or so. So far, everything has been great with the Brewers. I'm on a team with a bunch of great guys, I feel good, and I get the chance to play every couple of games. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Jim Edmonds, who hit nearly 400 home runs from 1993 through 2008, did not play in 2009. He signed a Minor League deal with Milwaukee in the offseason and earned a spot on the Brewers roster in Spring Training.