March 2009

Beginning of “The Grind”

Hello Fans.  I think this was the first week that everyone, including myself (Who hasn’t been able to play in any games) is starting to get tired and sore.  The excitement of playing ball again has also worn down and not having a day off this month have all combined to start what baseball players call, “The Grind”.  That is why everyone was thankful that we pretty much had an off day today.  We were planning on having a shorter day today, but thanks to the rain we ended up having a really short day.  We still had to come to the field, some guys needed treatment, a few pitchers needed to throw but the rest of the guys had a short meeting and then could leave. 

Not a whole lot happened this week off the field.  Like I said before I have been so tired I have just wanted to hang out and relax, but I was invited to share my testimony and some of my knowledge about hitting with a local high school baseball team.  I really enjoyed talking with the kids about life and baseball.  It also reminded me how blessed I am.  Sometimes I forget where I am and how far I’ve come to get here.  It has become “normal” to me that I am a professional baseball player with the New York Yankees.  But in reality there aren’t many people in my position or that have been able to learn so much about baseball.  So it was exciting to be able to hang out with some kids and share with them a little of what I have learned, but more importantly show them that they can achieve their dreams.   

I started hitting off a tee and taking some soft toss this past week.  My shoulder continued to feel better and get stronger, so tomorrow I am planning on taking batting practice and picking back up my throwing program.  There is only one week left of Spring Training, which I can’t believe, and it doesn’t look like I will be ready to play at the start of the season.  This is disappointing, but all I can do is take it one day at a time, work hard, and hope for the best. 

Thanks again for taking to time to read my blog.  I hope that everyone has a great week.  Next week the teams will be assigned and everyone will head off to their respective team, so catch up with me next week!

 

Games Begin

Hello fans.  We are about half way through Spring Training and I can’t believe it.  Time flies when you are working hard and having fun.  The biggest news this week was we started playing games.  Early this week we started facing live pitchers in practice then we progressed to scrimmaging, and the last two days we played the Pirates.  On days that we play games in Tampa we will have practice in the morning, consisting of mostly team oriented drills, batting practice, lunch, the game (around one o’clock), then conditioning and weights.  On days that we travel we usually just take batting practice, grab a sandwich to take on the bus, game and then travel back.  So our days are a little longer now, sometimes not getting out till after five.  The team I am playing/practicing with right now, Tampa Yankees, is looking really good.  I am excited to be a part of such a talented group of players and I am even more eager to see if we can win a championship this year. 

On Wednesday we had a shortened day, partly to give us a little rest since we are going seven days a week, and also to recognize the teams in our organization that won championships (this year our AA affiliate the Trenton Thunder and our AAA affiliate the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees both won championships).  We were off a little early so my roommate from last year, Carmen Angelini, and I decided to have a little cook out and have some guys over to hang out.  It was a blast.  We ended up having about 6-8 guys over, Carmen after some trouble getting the coals burning grilled some amazing chicken and steak, while I took care of the side dishes.  It was really nice to have a relaxing home cooked meal with your teammates away from the baseball field.

This week I continued to rest my arm.  My arm is feeling better than last week so I was able to start swinging again.  Off the field, I spent most of time my time resting, which consist of hanging out, reading, and watching 24.  Playing every day is already starting to catch up with me plus I am fighting off a cold and allergies.    

 

Back to the Basics

Hello again fans! Spring Training started on Monday and with that comes longer days and shorter nights.  This was a really busy week for me for a couple of reasons.  Most of the guys show up before 8 am and don’t leave till after 3pm.  Which may not sound too bad, but when you are in uniform out in the Florida sun most of the day, it wears you out.  We also had a lot of boring mandatory meetings that make the days a little longer, and on top of that I had a couple of doctor appointments.  Lastly, my girlfriend came to visit me, which I really enjoyed but that kept me busy as well.  We went out on a couple of dates to catch up and watch some movies.  Many of the minor league players have girlfriends, and it is tough because we move around so often, therefore we are forced to have long distance relationships.  We have Spring Training in Tampa, Florida, we play our regular season somewhere else, and then most of us move home in the off season which is in another place still.  So it makes relationships harder. 

Spring Training started well for me, but then took a turn for the worse.  I started taking batting practice and continued my throwing program, but later in the week my arm started getting sore.  Since then I have taken a step back to let my arm calm down and recover.  This was disappointing, but at the same time I was thankful that nothing was seriously wrong and my arm was just overloaded with all the new activity.  Mom, Dad, Johanna: thank you for all your prayers.    

During the first week of Spring Training we start with the basics.  Infielders went over things from how to field a ground ball to how to take leads off the bases.  Pitchers moved quickly from throwing bullpens to live batting practice.  They have also spent numerous hours taking PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice) and conditioning.  The last few days we have started doing more team work, such as bunt defenses, cuts, relays, and pick-off plays. Spring Training goes by quick, we have already started facing live pitching and this next week we will start playing games.   

God Bless, Have a great week!

Back in the Books

Hello Fans, this week I continued my throwing program and completed another phase in my throwing program that consisted of 50 throws at 60 feet.  My arm continued to feel a little bit better so this upcoming week I will be moving back to 90 feet.  I have increased my swings and I am hoping that I will be able to take batting practice this week as well.  It is amazing how far I have come over the past 5 months when I look back at where I have come.  The progress has been so slow that sometimes I forget that I am making progress.  I remember after coming out of my sling 4 weeks after surgery I could barely move my arm.    I distinctly remember saying to myself and to others that it will be a miracle if I can ever lift my arm above my head or throw normally again.  When I evaluated myself day to day, the progress was too small to notice, but when I looked at the progress I made week to week or even every two weeks that is when I see the improvement.   

This week I spent a lot of time reading and working on school work.  School work?  That’s right; I am taking a couple of classes online right now because I want to continue my education and eventually graduate.  I am actually taking a study break as we speak to write this blog.  I have wanted to finish the Government course before Spring Training, but I didn’t quite make it.  O well.  I also, finally, picked up a book that many people had been insisting I read, “Beyond Belief” by Josh Hamilton.  The book is about Josh’s childhood, his fall into drug abuse, and eventually his incredible comeback and where he found “The Strength to Come Back”.  The book lived up to the hype that so many people had built. I finished the book in a few days, most of that reading done in one afternoon.  If you are interested in a true story of baseball, heartbreak, overcoming amazing odds, inspiration, or encouragement I would strongly recommend it.   

Well, tomorrow is the first day of official Spring Training, which marks the beginning of another season.  Over the next month our performance will determine where we will start the beginning of the 2009 season.  So I can say with fairly good certainty that the guys are resting right now, getting ready for the upcoming week.  Everyone has arrived now and completed their physicals, which were finished this morning. 

Next week I will give you a report on what Spring Training is really like.  Have a blessed week and thanks again for reading!

Reunited in Sunny Florida

Hello again fans.  Another week has already come to a close.  It seems like yesterday I was driving into Tampa but I have already been here over a month and there is only one more week before Spring Training officially starts.  This week another group of guys arrived early to get ready for the season.  Many of my teammates from last year showed up and it was great to see them again.   It is an interesting situation because you build some good, close relationships with your teammates over the course of the season, due to the fact that you see them every day for at least 5 hours, you ride on long bus trips together, spend the night together, eat together, you do just about everything together.  Then at the end of the season you just leave and typically don’t see each other for another 5 month.  So I spent a lot of time catching up with friends this week. 

Practices are gradually getting longer to get us ready for Spring Training, where we will be on the field from 9am till 4pm.  My shoulder is continuing to get better.  I am throwing and hitting off a tee now, and each day my shoulder feels a little better than it did the day before.  I am anxiously waiting for the day that I get to take batting practice.  It has been exactly five months since I have taken batting practice and that is one of the things I miss the most.

This weekend was another eventful weekend for me; I am trying to do as much as I can right now because soon it will be all baseball.  On Saturday one of my friends invited me to go to the Yankees game against the Twins.  I had actually really wanted to go to a Spring Training game because I had never been before.  It was really exciting because as a Minor League player you don’t get a chance to see many Major League games because you are always playing.  After that, I went out to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, about 30 minutes outside of Tampa.  The Strawberry Festival is an annual event that started as a celebration of the new harvest and is now ranked as one of the top festivals in North America.  It is a fun event with carnival rides, exhibits of agricultural, fine arts, and history, as well as concerts at night.  I splurged and had some of their famous strawberry shortcake, which I have to say is the best I have ever had.  Finally, I went to the Third Day concert that night which was really fun.

Thanks for all of the comments and God Bless!