Well the last week has been very interesting to say the least. I got into Rockford on Friday afternoon to report to the team at 1:30 with a 7:05 game that night. I just thought that I had to be there so early because it was my first day and I had to get a uniform, gear, paperwork, etc. Well, I was wrong. Basically I showed up and was directed to the clubhouse. From there I was basically thrown into the fire. We had a team meeting and after that I was on my own. There was no one holding my hand and telling me everything that I needed to do. Overall it was a nerve-racking experience as you just pray that you don’t screw anything up.
As the day went on, I met some guys and got to talking to them and just kinda tagged along with them so that I could learn the ropes. Fortunately for me there are two other rookies on the pitching staff that were answering all of my questions and letting me know what I needed to do. But to make a long story short, for those of you that just think that pro baseball players just show up to the park and play, you would be dead wrong. It is normal for players to come into the park at least 7 hours before game time. During that time every little detail is covered including shining up your cleats and your turfs everyday. It truly is like having baseball be your full-time job.
As for the games themselves, we have plaed 5 games since I’ve joined the team. For the first four, my butt was firmly planted on the bullpen bench as I was not even called upon to get warm one time. However, my big break came tonight. I was called into a game in which the first reliever was struggling. When I came into the game, there were runners on first and third with one out in the 6th inning. I came in and I struck out the first batter that I faced on 3 pitches and the next hitter swung at the first pitch and grounded out. So I made it out of the inning on 4 pitches. The next inning was also uneventful as I didn’t give up any hits and only walked one. I kept my team in the game so that they could come back and tie it. However, I do have to say that I am impressed with the discipline of the hitters. I threw a slider from hell that would have struck out every single guy on my college team but somehow the hitter had the discipline to lay off of it and work me into a 3-2 count. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better debut. I now know that I can definately hang with these guys. I can be successful at this level and that is exactly what I need to keep doing to keep climbing the rungs on the baseball ladder.
As for the other cool stuff: signing autographs is fun, but the best time to hit up pitchers would be before the game; for everyone who asks if they can have a baseball, you can but only if it was a foul ball that came down into the bullpen, otherwise the front office gets pissed that you are giving away team baseballs; don’t ever be scared to ask a guy a question about pitching, in fact most guys welcome it because it is different from a typical convo; and always keep one eye on the bullpen for some crazy early (innings 1-4) game action, you wouldn’t believe some of the games that guys play; I got to pose for some pictures for my baseball card that will be in the team set later in the year, so that was surreal; and pitching against wood bats again is a dream come true.
I have wireless internet at my hostfamily’s house so hopefully I’ll be putting more good news up on here frequently. As I’ve said before, if anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up with them. As I continue in my baseball career I eventually want to start a site similar to my friend, Pat Neshek’s (www.patneshek.com). So for all of you that are reading this, you could be the first to witness the start of bigger and better things. However, it is time for me to hit the sack so that I can wake up and get ready to possibly pitch again tomorrow.