Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 2 in the Books

If you saw my tweet from the other day then you know that this is the time of year where a ballplayer's body is fighting itself...hard. Our minds have gotten into the routine of playing/throwing everyday; unfortunately, our bodies (or maybe just mine) is still lagging behind. Between sleeping on different beds 3-4 days a week, riding on a bus for hours at a time, lifting/throwing/running, my whole body is feeling very very middle-aged (no offense to you actual middle-agers).

I know that my body will adjust and get itself back on track, I'm just hoping I can hold out until then. Unlike high school or college ball where every game is the most important game and you prepare like there's no tomorrow, in pro ball you have to prepare like there's 140 more games to go. You learn to take days off from throwing or abbreviate your conditioning program where you can. Not because you're lazy or don't feel like working that day, but because you know your body better than anyone else. You know what the threshold is for your muscles and joints and you can't push the envelope everyday without risking the rest of your season. I've always known how to play hard...it's something you learn at an early age. I've had to learn, however, how to play/train smart.

On a semi-related note, we're now 10-2. On a totally unrelated note, it's awesome to have Big Leaguers in the clubhouse. We have a couple with us this week, Jason Bay and Ronnie Paulino. Both are total gentlemen. They treat us like equals, with respect. They joke around with us, play ping pong with us, and buy us dinner every once in a while. I can understand the temptation for guys like that to come in and feel like it is below them to get involved with the team, so I really respect these guys for being down-to-earth...real people, not just Big Leaguers. I'll take this chance to thank them both again for the killer post game spreads and thanks for setting a great example of how to play the game with class.

Also, just thought I'd throw in a picture of my frightening wife. The noodle sword and noodle mase at Target kept us entertained for exactly 3 minutes...Well Worth It!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Week in the FSL

Matt Harvey pitching in Ft. Myers this week

We made it through the first week of the Florida State League season cruising to a record of 6 -1. We've been pitching really well, hitting the ball decently, and winning...duh. I'm no rookie when it comes to getting out of the gates fast. In Brooklyn (2009) we started out like 23-2. In Savannah last year we started out in first and led the division most of the 1st half. This year, maybe i'm getting over-confident, but I kinda expect to succeed early and often.

We've all heard the old adage "good pitching beats good hitting." Well, it's true. If you don't give up runs, you give your team a chance to win each night. If you give up a bunch of runs it makes it immensely harder for hitters to play from behind. We've been holding the opponents to very few runs, freeing our hitters up to play loose...and score runs. The trick is to keep this going for an entire season. I've seen success early, but i've also seen droughts somewhere in the middle of each season. They happen. They key is to minimize them and spread them out over the long season. If we can stay healthy, I think we have a good chance to do just that.

I'm in a weird funk right now in my bullpens. I can't seem to get a good rhythm making the usually easy side sessions down right frustrating at the moment. I keep watching guys on TV and my teammates go out there and make pitching look so easy. I think to myself "why can't I just go out there and do that?" It's one of those weird mental things that goes along with pitching. I'll get over it and figure it out. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Come back sinker...please!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bound For South Florida

I made the St. Lucie Mets opening day roster for 2011. I guess it's kind of a formality for most people who were told that's "probably" where I'd end up, but for me there's no such thing as a formality in Minor League Baseball.

Everyday we are fighting for a limited number of spots on both the Major League and 4 long-season Minor League rosters. We can be moved around at will...like chess pieces. We get paid less than minimum wage for the hours we put in. We are commodities that can be traded for other commodities or simply discarded without any heads up. There is, what we like to call in the economics world, scarcity.

All Spring Training I have been doing everything I can possibly do to ensure myself of a spot in the St. Lucie starting rotation. I knew full-well that there were more starting pitchers than rotation spots and that I was relatively low on the "prospect" totem pole. At the same time, I know that I can compete with anyone, so I wasn't surprised when I got the nod for the 5th starting spot down here. I was very pleased, don't get me wrong! But not surprised.

For me, the most important mental aspect of baseball is confidence. We have to believe that we are capable of whatever is placed in front of us, even if we never get there. The reality of the situation is that not all of us will get there, and not all of us who get there will stay there. But we have to be ready if the circumstance presents itself. I was fortunate today that the opportunity presented itself. There were many guys who had prepared just as hard as I did that didn't get the spot they wanted. It is now my responsibility to capitalize on the chance I've been given.

I'm looking forward to it!