They played a D1 school and lost 2 fairly close games on Saturday, but Sunday they crushed the local Junior College team twice. It was about 90 degrees (32 Celsius) down there, and very enjoyable to sit and watch some fairly solid softball. Obviously, for them, this is only fall ball, so they do have a lot to work on, but like Shorty keeps telling me, and I see, they have a lot of potential, and could possibly be a very big surprise team not only in their conference, but in the nation. The team has only 15 players, and are led by 7 seniors, and interestingly over the past 4 years, the program has had 4 different coaches. I have the feeling the staff they have right now will stick around at least a couple years, I know Shorty will be there for 2 years before getting her masters in sports science.
Anywho, I followed the team on the 5 hour excursion from the little city of Portales, NM down through a little mountain range, and right on into southwest Texas, where El Paso sits. The city lies right on the Rio Grande, the Mexican border. We would have made a little trip across the border just to say I had been to yet another country (Shorty's already been there) but she didn't bring her passport, so maybe next time. We drove along the highway that is literally 100 feet off the border. It was interesting to look across into Mexico, at all the little shanties and shacks they live in, they overall quality of the land and roads compared to what we were driving on and through in El Paso. It was a fun little trip, and shorty was able to drive back with me after the games, so we could check out the malls in El Paso, something I wasn't pumped for obviously (I have a strong hate for malls these days, they always seem to turn into spending time and money), but Shorty didn't get anything, actually I was the one that ended up picking up a shirt and shorts... dangit.
We have pics, and I'll add them to the computer later on tonight and post some on here when I can. Well, we headed home Sunday night, and made a little pit stop for the night which I'll write my next blog about.
Here's to hoping he dominates the former world champs, doesn't hang any pitches, and keeps the ball in on Ryan Howard...
ps- I just read that Pedro Martinez will be going for the Phillies.He was my childhood idol, and a guy I was fortunate enough to chat with during the WBC. Should be a great game to watch.
I love your posts about what life was like living with your fellow pitchers this season. I'm curious now, what was life like on the road? Living in hotels, transportation to road games in places far away like Akron, if you have free time and what you do in it?Also, what is it like having basically a revolving door at the bullpen with guys going up and coming down? Do you keep in touch with guys like Zep and Bubbie or is it more of a temporary bond you all share?
I actually wasn't part of the trip to Akron, as that never ending drive happened to fit in over the 3 week period I was in Dunedin, too bad. Other road trips are all basically the same. On the road the average day goes like this= After a typical 10-11 am wake up, you head to an eatery establishment (usually the hotels are right across from malls, making the food court a tempting place to eat with many choices). After a lunch, back to the hotel, chill for a while then head off the the field to prepare for the game. Usually 11 pm is about the time we would arrive back at whatever hotel we were staying in, so about an hour or two, talk to the loved ones and off to sleep. I think I may have written a blog somewhere throughout the season about our normal day game schedule. It shouldn't be tough to find, because I slacked most of the year on the blog and only posted about 3 a month.
About the revolving door in the bullpen question, it's hard to say. I've never been a part of a pitching staff that was like this before. I take it it's like this every year, with every team, but it's just something to get used to I guess. I tried to get along with everyone as much as I could while they were there, you never know when someone is going to be moving. There were some moves we saw coming, and some moves that really caught us off guard. Yes, you make the most of the relationships you have while you have them, hang out with the guys that are around when they are around, that's all you can do. For some of the guys, the friends are temporary. I do talk to Zep still, we were roommates both in Manchester, and on the road for the first couple of months until I got moved. He's a great guy with a great arm, and I expect to see him on TV for a while to come. I have also stayed in contact with most of my roommates from the reliever house also we had some good times.
Alright, so weather wise, no, October sucks pretty much everywhere. It rains about 29 of 31 days in Vancouver, same for Holland. Here in New Mexico it went from 30 to about 13 degrees in a matter of 30 minutes today, then started pouring. But all this is made bearable because yesterday kicked off this years playoffs, 8 teams all competing for the crown of World Series Champion. There have already been 5 games, and I'm listening to #6 on my headphones in the library right now. The mystique of baseball in October is what draws me to watch the games. Every game is put under the spotlight, every player is bigger than life. Heroes are born, and a great game can either make or break a city and a region.
Today the Cardinals lost in the bottom of the 9th with 2 out on a dropped line drive by the left fielder, he is now the goat of the entire Midwest because they had the game in the bag... until the ball hit him in the sack (literally). Every pitch is important, and it's real baseball; seldom do you see a blowout at this stage of the season. I try and watch as many games as I possibly can, because until they have a 12 month season in the majors (which won't ever happen) this is the last baseball I can see for about 4 months (which is a long time when you're in love with the game the way I am). I am a visual learner, and learn a great deal just by watching some pitchers, how they throw, what they throw in what counts, locations, movement and plenty more. I have been able to watch the World Series with my dad for the past few years, which is great because we both share the same love for the game, and talk strategy the whole game. I've even made a fan out of my wife over the past few years. She enjoys watching the games and has a very healthy respect for the players and the game (especially the close ones). Oh, and she can name off almost every single Red Sox over the past 5 years... That's right, she's part of the Red Sox nation.
I have no predictions, I have a couple of favorites, but I mainly root for close games, and long series'. Enjoy the playoffs...
Similar question to the one in a previous comment: Is your off season training tailored to what the Jays' staff said you NEED to work on or is it basically 'Get better and be ready on your own for Spring Training'?Also, are you still under contract with the Jays?Enjoyed watching you in N.H. this season and see some good potential there!
Good question. I wasn't sure how it would go at the end of the year, since this was my first go around in minor league ball, but we didn't have a coach - player meetings at the end of the season like I thought we might. The way I've begun to realize things run in the minors (or maybe just in the team I was placed in) is that the coaches work for their teams just as much as the players do. We're expendable, just as easily as they are expendable; so if we (the players) want to know about our status in the Jays, what they think of us, what we need to work on in the off season, we need to ask either the roving pitching coach, or the farm director. They are the ones that make all the decisions on who moves up and down. The coaches give their two cents worth on who's hot and cold, but are mainly expected to win ball games, put the players in the proper situations to succeed, and keep the players healthy.
I've kinda gone off on a tangent here explaining how some of the inner workings of minor league ball go, but I'll get back to the point for you JJB.
We did have a meetings with the strength and conditioning coaches though. The big league S&C coach was there as well as the organizations main S&C alongside the double-A S&C coach for our last home stand to have quick meetings with each player. They talked about the exit strength test (which I did fairly well on) and just mentioned what muscle group they think we need to focus on more or less in our off season workouts. Mine, scaps need to be tightened some. That was basically it. Since this was my first season they didn't know much about my weight, and what I should arrive at spring training with, so I told them, 205. I pitch better at lower weight, and since 205 is the goal, I am aiming for 198.
The Jays didn't tell me what mechanics to work on for the off season, but I have a pitching coach to work on that at home, and I know what I need to get back to, so that shouldn't be an issue.
So yeah, basically the Jays are saying get better, and be ready for spring training, which is fine. I'm not sure if things are done differently at the lower levels with the younger kids, but by double-A your a man; if you don't know what you need to do over the off season to be ready for spring training you don't have what it takes to be a big leaguer. That's just part of the weeding out process.
I am still under contract with the Jays. Since I am foreign and this was my first professional contract, I signed the typical 7 year deal that any Dominican or Venezuelan would sign at 16.
OddBod replied to my previous blog with this query=
what's your off-season training routine? ps. do you wanna have a home run derby at centennial?
I put the question out there on my last blog entry to let me know what you want to hear about; anything that I may just overlook writing about, or personally find everyday and normal. I got a comment from a long time friend who I played ball with for a good portion of my life, baseball and basketball.
This fella just finished up his masters in health science (maybe nutrition?). He has for a long time been big on health and conditioning, working out and doing cardio at the tender age of 2. Well, maybe not that early, but he was definitely my first friend to do weight conditioning. He asked what my off-season workout plans are. I have a pretty good idea, so I'll try to put down what I've been thinking.
Getting myself into peak pitching condition will take several different types of workouts. This includes throwing long toss, cardio, and weights. I will work them all into a weekly schedule around the pitching clinics I should be doing a couple days a week.
October 20 - December 10 = Long toss includes working my way back to about 220 feet, and throwing the ball on a line. I work my way up to about 120 throws by the last week. I'll throw about every second day, sometimes every third, I like to get an average of about 3.5 throwing sessions in a week.
December 10 - January 1 = Rest arm for the 2nd three week period of this off season. I will likely still get out and throw 4-5 times though. The timing works out right since it's over the holidays when times get busy and Shorty will be in town.
January 1 - February 5 = Get back into the long tossing same as the first period from October to December. Have myself throwing either to a catcher, or the fence at 60 feet getting up to 50-65 pitches by the end.
February 5 - March 1 = Not sure where I will be going for pre-spring training training, but I very well may end up here in New Mexico working out with the University team or on my own. either way I will have about 2-3 weeks to get myself completely ready to impress when spring training starts.
Unlike throwing I won't have a chance to take time off running. This starts the day after I get back, and won't stop for a while. Obviously I won't be going every day, at least 1-2 days off running a week to rest the legs and let the muscle build will be a must.
I have several different types of running programs I put myself through in the off seasons.
Long distance - 2-3 times a week. 20-30 minutes on a flat ground track. I usually push myself to a pretty good pace because I can't stand jogging. Why run if you're not going to sweat is my motto.
Sprints - This will be the first off season I will implement the sprints. I have never done them in other off seasons because as a starter you normally just run long distances. Relief pitching is more of a sprint than starting. Starting is usually associated with longevity and stamina, which is why starters tend to run long distances more often. I will implement the sprints on the same days as the long distance running.
Stairs - 2-3 times a week. I live in a great place to be able to do stairs. I can choose between a staircase at a football stadium, to a staircase into a ravine with 108 stairs, to a staircase down to the beach with about 250 stairs. I will likely start with 10-15 sets in the ravine, and if I am able to get up to 25-30 sets by the time I leave in February, I will be in amazing shape.
The Blue Jays have given me a huge workout handbook to follow. I will surely use their outlines, not break their "workout rules" and add my own touches to my workouts too. I plan on going back to my old stomping grounds at Great West Fitness in White Rock where I've been going for about 9 years now. I will workout 3-4 times a week. I use the gym for pitching mechanics mirror work and the fantastic sauna.
I've got my work cut out for me. I am going to take off one day per week, maybe two depending on how my body feels and everything is progressing. The best part of running my own program is that it's very flexible, I can throw when I want, I don't need a partner, I can throw back to back days if my arm feels good, or take an extra day on anything if I feel it needs it.
Until I start it on the 20th, I am going to enjoy my last and only 2 weeks off for the whole year and just relax.
They immediately filled the role with Alexander Anthopoulos, who was the Vice President, Baseball Operations & Assistant General Manager. Anthopoulos is only 32 years old, but a young face up top might be what the Jays need, look at the Boston Red Sox who were led (at the time) to the 2004 World Series crown by 29 year old Theo Epstein.
Who knows what this means for all of the employees in the organization. Some coaches feared that if Ricciardi went that they might just clear out a lot of the coaches throughout the minors. We will see how that works out. Personally I am hoping Anthopoulos thoroughly looks at all the cases of coach and player before drastic measures are taken.
I know I didn't have the ideal season or stats that I or the Jays were looking for. I do know what I need to do to be part of the Jays future plans, and that starts with a very strong spring training.
I want to impress beyond belief.
The Tampa Bay Rays had a manager last year that led a young team to the World Series. The manager had a young and easy attitude and is known as a ‘players manager’, that means he relates to the guys as people and ball players and is able to coach and run the team while still being in good terms with the players. A player’s manager is rare.
Over the past couple of years I’ve played on teams with several different kinds of coaches, I won’t name names or teams. but I have seen a lot of different breeds of managers.
-> I’ve had a coach that ruined our season because of his over coaching and obvious negative and nervous outbursts in the dugout. Lack of trust in his players led to the coach being the cancer of the team.
-> I’ve had a coach who was so mono toned and old fashioned that every team in the league knew when we were about to bunt and do any strategic move it was useless.
-> I have only talked about the couple bad apples I've encountered, but I have also had some coaches who knew how to make things work.
-> There is a coach I wish could have played for recently that is obviously a great coach, knows his baseball and seems to be quite the players manager, unfortunately I wasn’t able to play for this coach, yet.
-> The most player oriented manager I've ever had created one of the greatest and most together team environments I’ve ever played in. We did something incredible with that team, coincidence? probably not.
There are coaches who know a lot and don't know how to pass on the info, there are coaches who don't know as much but are able to make up for their shortfalls in other ways. No matter what kind of coach I have, I am the type of player who will do whatever my coach or manager asks of me, because that's what was instilled in me over my first 2 years of Junior College/boot camp. I take something from all the men I've played under and been taught or not taught by. I am trying to take all the aspects I see as positives so that I can be a complete player, and coach or manager someday. If I don't ever coach, it will be useful to teach my son or daughter someday. But first off I get to work on my leadership qualities this winter while doing pitching clinics.
The song is "Fall From Paradise" from his 2006 album "Hitch Hikin' Music". The lyrics are about his life in music, and how he is realistic that there is a point when you fall off and "flop"; IE. your career comes to an end. Throughout the song he remains adamant that he isn't close to being finished with music. He is level headed and sensible enough to realize that obviously at some point in the future a fall from paradise in inevitable. I relate to this track because basically everything he talks about goes exactly the same in baseball. When you're on the top it's paradise. There are so many parts of the song that I think to myself "wow, that's the same in my life and baseball". We are both at about the same level in our professions, just below the top, so I can understand it that much more.
I feel like I've been at the top, and had some struggles this year like any artist or athlete can have, but overall I haven't "flopped" and I will rise again. I had the ultimate highs this year basically peaking in the WBC and the first few months with the Blue Jays, then dropped down to rock bottom in the middle of the season having some rough outings in a row. Since, I have been working out everything and steadily getting back to where I was at, and doing everything I can to get me back to Paradise.
Watch the video to listen to the lyrics, don't worry to much about the video. Try thinking about everything he says in a baseball players context though, and you'll understand what I'm getting at. Here's a few of the lyrics that I feel explain more than some of the others how this song relates to either a musician or baseball players career...
"It's hard to explain, a fall from paradise is meant to be
<(Classified) I know the way the world works>
Destination in his eyes, counting down, this is the time -
It's hard to explain, a fall from paradise was meant to be
<(Classified) I ain't close to bein finished>
None of them believed in him, some just walked away"
"But I ain't worked in years, and some think I'm famous, While other people ask when the hell I'm gonna make it?"
"I went through all types of bullshit, the story go way back, and I'm proud of myself now, though its corny to say that"
"I did more than I imagined, tours I couldn't fathom, broke down doors for sure, I let 'em have it, If any opportunity came, I had to grab it, Any goals set, I rose, then ran past it, Not a superstar and never wanted that"
**Just a sidenote, so that I don't scare anyone else - no I haven't been released by the Jays - and no I haven't quit baseball**
To all my loyal readers and to anyone just dropping by, don't hesitate to let me know what you guys think. All feedback is good, it will help me move along in the right direction with my blog.
I would like to thank Timmy Collins my roommate over the past 2 weeks and one of the most exciting and interesting pitchers I have ever seen and/or played with for putting me up last night and taking me to the airport today.
Tim is rare, and will always be climbing uphill against the grain and fighting off critics, which he has done gracefully so far. The rosters say he's 5'7", but realistically he stands around 5'5" or 5'6" and a soaking wet 150 pounds, he is the 2nd smallest player in professional baseball, and he's a pitcher. Tim is a left-handed power pitcher at that, his straight over the top fastball sits between 91-94 MPH, and his strikeout pitch is a filthy curve ball. He uses everything he can in every pitch, a lot like a left handed Tim Lincecum. The interesting part is that he just turned 20 last week. His strikeout stats are ridiculous, and he had such a good year last year in single A as an 18 year old that he was named all of minor leagues 'Single A pitcher of the year'. Not bad, keep an eye on this kid... anyways, back to what popped in my head a little earlier to write about.
Tim is second from the right, I'm in the back with most of the bullpen and some of our very loyal fans at the ballpark in Portland, Maine the last game of the season.
On the way to my last bullpen session today in a city called Worcester (pronounced Wuss-ster) Massachusetts we stopped at a little place called Lango’s subs and pizza. Huge menu, and I had their fajita wrap which was delicious, but the thing that makes me want to write this blog was what I saw on their walls.
Their owner seemed to be quite the world traveller, and had pictures of himself from all over the world in collages, and had them labeled. Timmy Collins has never been out of the states, and he thought this was the coolest thing ever. So I looked closer at some of his destinations, I realized had been to many of them, Paris, yep, Grand Canyon, yep, Barcelona, check... on and on. This spurred my blog-mind and made me want to boast/make people feel sorry for my travel schedule/let everyone know about the crazy world travels Shorty and I have encountered over the past few years.
My wife whom on my blog I call by Shorty has quite a rare feat that she accomplished over the past 7 months. She has driven our little Civic Hybrid to all 4 corner states in the USA. In February we drove from Vancouver down to California and then across to Oklahoma. When I was assigned to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Shorty made the 24 hour drive to join me up there, and at one point followed us on the road to Portland, Maine. A couple months later I had to head to south, down to Dunedin, Florida to pitch for the Dunedin Blue Jays. Shorty, the trooper she is, drove all the way down the east coast to complete her feat and have driven herself and our car to all 4 corner states of mainland USA.
Shorty and I in Negril, Jamaica for our honeymoon
Here are a handful of the cities and countries we have visited over the past 3 years...
Shorty and I=
Negril, Jamaica (Honeymoon)
Las Vegas, Nevada (drove through on cross-country road trip)
*Amsterdam + Rotterdam, Netherlands (where I played ball in 2007-08)
*Antwerp, Belgium (where I played in 2006)
*Dunedin, Florida (summer 2009)
Paris, France (summer day visit for shorty and I in 2006)
*Manchester, New Hampshire (spring-summer 2009)
Regensburg, Germany (European baseball cup, 2008)
*Vancouver, Canada (our winter destination every year)
Puerto Rico (WBC 2009)
Miami, Florida (also WBC 2009)
*Tulsa, Oklahoma (multiple times, Shorty's folks place)
*= Stayed for a month or longer
Taipei, Taiwan (2006 Intercontinental cup, 2007 World Cup)
Hong Kong + Beijing, China (2008 summer Olympics)
Barcelona, Spain (2007 European championships/ Olympic qualifier)
Seoul, Korea (Pre-Olympic training camp 2008)
Zurich, Switzerland (stop over)
I may add more destinations to this list over the next few days as I think of them... We lead crazy lives. I have been living off the same clothes out of a carry-on and my big duffel bag over the past 8 months, it's not easy living out of a bag. Going from day to day, packing up your bag, making sure enough clothes are clean, folded (wrinkles are inevitable in this lifestyle) gets very old very quick. I am looking forward to being back at home so that I can unpack and live out of the same room for at least 3 months. I live an amazing life, this is just one of the overlooked 'you gotta deal with it' parts of this lifestyle, and I'm fine with that as long as I can keep playing baseball and getting better and better at my craft.