I know I promised a mailbag, but in baseball and in life, some things change.
Sunday, August 30th
7:45 pm: We are in Daytona and holding on to a 4-1 lead in the 8th inning. I am getting stretched out in anticipation to pitch the 9th inning. Lundy, our pitching coach, radios down to get Carlos Monasterios ready. I am confused. I had been pitching well and had ample rest, things just did not add up. I was upset that I did not get to pitch in my normal role, but remembered that Ernie Whitt, our manager, told me just before the game started, “Everything we do has a reason behind it.”
8:00 pm: We win the game 4-2. We are in good spirits and come into the clubhouse to eat a delicious post game spread that includes homemade chicken and steak fajitas (Note: Daytona always has the best spreads).
8:05 pm: Lundy tells me Ernie needs to see me in his office. I go in and Ernie tells me, “There was a reason you did not pitch tonight. I know you are aware that Lakewood is in the playoffs, and that they need a closer. Your flight leaves for New Jersey in the morning.” I weakly respond by saying, “Ok.” Then he tells me, “I am just kidding, Reading is making a playoff push and they want you to help out. You are going to Reading, and your flight leaves at 10 am.” To that I respond with an enthusiastic, “Ok!” I shook all the coaches’ hands and thanked them.
8:10 pm: I call my parents and somberly tell them that I have some interesting news. My mom tells my dad to pick up the phone so they can both hear at the same time. I tell them that I have been sent to Lakewood for the playoffs. They simultaneously gasped and were silent for a few seconds. Then I told them I was kidding and that I was going to Reading. My mom, who almost never curses, yells, “How the f*** could you f*** with us like that. You almost gave me a f****** heart attack.” At the same time my mom was yelling, my dad was just screaming, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.” Finally, they both came to their senses and told me how happy and proud they were of me. Then they went to the bar and ordered some celebratory shots. I then preceded to call and text my friends.
8:30 pm: I get on the bus to head back to Clearwater. I get a call from a member of the Thresher front office saying my flight is at 10 am and they will pick us up from the field at 7:45 am.
11:30 pm: I arrive at Brighthouse field for the last time this year, say goodbye to all my teammates, and pack up all my stuff.
12:35 am: I arrive at my condo. I check the Reading schedule and find out two things. First, they have a double header today starting at 5:35 pm, two 7 inning games. Second, they used a lot of relief pitchers yesterday, so I have a good chance to pitch.
12:45 am: I start packing. I have to pack everything I need because I am going home to Alexandria, VA right after the Reading season ends. I also want to pack as fast as possible, because I want to get some sleep before I pitch. I end up throwing everything I have in 3 bags. The dirty clothes are mixed with the clean clothes, absolutely nothing is folded, and all 3 bags are bursting at the seams. I make what seems like 10 trips up and down 3 flights of stairs before I can finally get to bed.
2:50 am: I lay down to go to bed, sweating from all the running around and set my alarm for 7:00 am.
4:15 am: I actually go to sleep.
6:15 am: I wake up in a panic. I dreamed that I had slept through my alarm. I have no chance of falling back to sleep. I take a shower, eat some breakfast, check, recheck, and triple check my condo to make sure I did not forget anything important.
8:25 am: I arrive at the Tampa Bay airport.
12:55 pm: I arrive at the Philadelphia airport. I got no sleep on the plane, as it is impossible for a 6’8” person to sleep on a plane (Note: I like getting at least 9 hours of sleep every night. The last time I got under 4 hours of sleep was in college when I was cramming for a final).
2:35 pm: I arrive at Reading’s stadium. I quickly realize how spoiled I was with Clearwater’s locker room accommodations. Remember Clearwater is home for the Phillies’ spring training. Reading’s locker room is very similar to Williamsport’s in its old fashion building and close quarters. When I walked in with my stuff, Zagurski told me to find a nice spot on the floor for my stuff because all the lockers were taken. I posted up on the floor in between Susdorf and Chavez’s lockers.
2:45 pm: I see Chuck Lamar and Benny Looper walking around the clubhouse. As if there was not enough pressure, two important front office people are here.
3:00 pm: I find the Clubbie and get fitted for all my uniform needs.
3:15 pm: Fix myself a couple of sandwiches and some chips for a much needed lunch.
3:30 pm: Head into the trainer’s room to get all my arm exercises done.
4:00 pm: Go out with all the pitchers to get our stretching and long toss program completed. As I walk outside, I realize how beautiful the weather is compared to Florida, or as I like to call it, the devil’s kitchen. After I finish throwing, I ask the strength coordinator what the conditioning is for the day. He tells me to get whatever I feel like I need. This is a change from Clearwater.
4:45 pm: As I come off the field, I run into my freshman year college roommate, Ryan Ouellette. He left UVA after his freshmen year to go to Junior College in hopes to get drafted a year earlier. He did get drafted and is now a relief pitcher for Bowie.
5:00 pm: I go into the training room to get an arm stretch. As I am lying on the table getting stretched, Steve Roadcap, aka Roady, my new manager, comes out of his locker room. I smile and say hello. He looks at me, and with a stern tone says, “The first thing you do when you come to a new place is say hello to the manager.” He then walked away, shaking his head in disapproval. The trainer who was stretching me says, “Well, that’s a good first impression.”
5:35 pm: The game begins, and I am sitting in the bullpen with my new teammates. The bullpen talk hits on the same subject from Clearwater to Reading, just in a different light. In Clearwater, the talk was about random girls or girlfriends, whereas in Reading the talk is about fiancés and wives. In Clearwater, we would talk about places to rent, and living on someone’s couch. In Reading, the talk is about additions to houses they owned, and putting up a basketball court in the back yard.
7:45 pm: Rosenberg gives up Flande’s run on a super cheap hit in the 6th inning to tie the score. It looks like this game could be heading into extra innings.
8:40 pm: The score remains tied in the 9th inning as Escalona comes in to pitch. I think I could be next.
9:10 pm: The score remains tied in the 10th inning as Zagurski comes in to pitch. I know I am next now, as I am the only pitcher remaining.
9:20 pm: Zagurski does not allow a run and Shrenk, the pitching coach, radios down, “Schwimer has the next inning.” When those words were said, my heart rate increased from 95 to 155.
9:25 pm: My ex roommate, Ryan Ouellete, pitches a scoreless 10th.
9:25 pm: Tim Kennelly, the catcher, makes the last out so I walk in from the bullpen in order to give him some time to get all his gear on. I throw 6 warm up pitches, then ask TK to come to the mound. I tell him everything is working and I want to start the first guy, their cleanup hitter, off with a slider. I walk around the mound and say to myself, “This is the same game. I have done this a million times before.” My first pitch slider is a strike. I am now comfortable and settled in. The first batter hits a groundball in between short and third, Freddy Galvis slides to get the ball, pops up, and makes a strong throw to get the runner by a step. Absolute web gem, I let out a sigh of relief. The next batter inside outs a week line drive to the first baseman. The next batter hits a groundball up the middle for a sure single if anyone besides Freddy is playing short. Freddy dives to get the ball, spins, and makes a no look hard throw that is right on the money for the 3rd out.
9:35 pm: Freddy starts the rally by laying down a bunt that my former roommate throws away. Later in the inning, Spidale gets the game winning hit, his 998th career minor league hit. The dugout erupts as we sprint on the field to congratulate everyone. Everyone is high fiving as we go into the club house to grab some food before the second game. I like to get some running in after I pitch in order to get the lactic acid out of my arm. Before I did that, Shrenk found me and asked how I felt. I said, “I feel great,” and he says, “I want you to stay inside for the beginning of the second game to keep warm because you might be needed to pitch again.” Now I am thinking to myself, “Holy shit, is this really happening?”
11:15 pm: It is the end of the 4th inning. I have been watching the game on the TV inside the clubhouse. The trainer comes in and puts heat on my shoulder and elbow.
11:35 pm: It is the top of the 6th inning, and I head out to the bullpen. After the top of the 6th, the score is tied. Shrenk radios down, “If we take the lead, Schwimer is in the game.” I start light tossing, but will not start throwing unless we get a runner in scoring position. That never happens so I sit back down.
11:45 pm: Overholt throws a scoreless 7th inning.
12:15 am: The bottom of the 7th took 20 minutes due to pitching changes and Roady contesting a call with the 2nd base umpire. Overholt throws a scoreless 8th inning. Shrenk radios down, “Schwimer is in the game.” Now I am just smiling and enjoying the moment. I think to myself, “What are the chances of this happening?” as I get loose in the bullpen.
12:25 am: I enter the tie game in the 9th inning, facing their 9th hitter. I quickly get ahead of him and strike him out on a slider. I get ahead of the leadoff hitter with some off speed pitches, then freeze him with an inside fastball for strike 3. I get behind the next batter and end up walking him. Two out walks are inexcusable, but two out walks in extra innings with their best hitter on deck is beyond inexcusable. Their switch hitting third baseman, Josh Bell, steps in the box. This is the guy that the Orioles got from the Dodgers in the George Sherill trade. I make good quality pitches to get ahead 1-2. I try to elevate a fastball, but he takes it and it goes off the glove of our catcher, which allows the go ahead run to get to 2nd base. Nelly, our catcher, comes to the mound and asks me what I want. I tell him, “backleg slider,” he says, “sounds good to me.” I throw it, Bell swings over the top of it; Nelly blocks it and throws him out at first. I let out some sort of happy grunt as I am going into the dugout.
12:35 am: Q Berry starts the rally with a leadoff single. Spidale bunts him over. Brown gets intentionally walked. Mahar comes up and laces a single into left field, at this point the dugout erupts and starts running on the field because no left fielder in the world has a chance to throw out Q Berry. We win the game! Half the team runs to Q, while the other half runs to Mahar to congratulate them. Everyone is high fiving everyone.
12:40 am: We get into the clubhouse and everyone comes up to shake my hand and tell me good job. My adrenaline is still pumping so I go outside to get some sprints in. Needless to say, those were the best 10 sprints I have ever run in my life.
1:30 am: We board the bus, and I pass out like an Irishman on St. Patrick’s Day. I woke up for 15 minutes to get my room key, then went straight back to sleep and woke up at 3:00 pm.
In the past 29 hours, I went from the east coast of Florida to the west coast; I got 2 hours of sleep, packed up my life, moved my stuff from Florida to Pennsylvania, and recorded 2 wins in my first two appearances in AA in the same day. What have you done in the past 29 hours?