Before I get started, I would like to thank Phuture Phillies for giving me this opportunity to write this column. I have three reasons for creating this blog. First, I feel like very few people understand the life of a minor league ballplayer, and I wish to shed some light on the excitement and rigors this profession provides. Second, I believe the reason baseball thrives is because of its loyal fan base. I receive many emails, txts, etc from baseball fans. Unfortunately, they’re only so many hours in a day, and I believe this column will allow me to answer even more of your questions. Lastly, when people come up to me and ask me about life as a professional baseball player, in addition to answering their question, I can share with them this link to the column so they can learn even more about this life.
I am a very opinionated person and I am excited to share my views. For the inaugural entry, I will describe my average day as a minor league pitcher, and then answer some questions that I have already received. (Note: This section is 847 words so if you want to know exactly what happens every day, this is it)
My day starts by waking up somewhere in between 11am-noon. I take a shower, then eat breakfast while watching Sportscenter. I then proceed to go online where I check 5 sites: espn.com for the Phillies recap, and to see if Bill Simmons has a new article, the stock market to see how much money I have lost so far that day, virginiasports.com to see how my alma mater is doing, milb.com to see how my friends did the night before, and finally, Facebook.
I get to the field at 1:45 every day; people get there any time from 1 to 2:30, and get an arm stretch from our trainer. In addition to this being a requirement at least 3 times a week, it’s a great way to get loose. After that I get dressed in practice gear and get ready for pitchers stretch at 3pm. Every day we go through an active stretch routine that takes 15 minutes before we long toss. We long toss every single day to at least 120 feet, some days more depending upon our individual throwing schedule. Each long toss session concludes with a 10 pitch flat ground with our throwing partner being the catcher. (Note; this is my least favorite part of the day, as I have taken more than one ball off the shins during this time) After the flat ground concludes, we get our conditioning in. The type of running changes every day, as we usually do 4 days of sprint type stuff, 2 days of longer jogs, and one off day. During this time the position players, who stretch at 3:30, are now ready to take infield and outfield practice.
It is now about 4:15 and time to start batting practice aka a pitchers worst nightmare. We stand in the outfield for 45 minutes in the 95 degree humid Floridian sun shagging all the batted balls. Every day we hope it rains during this portion of the day so the hitters take batting practice in the cages and we can relax in air conditioning. At 5 o clock we go in to the club house and have our pregame meal. Our clubbie (club house assistant) prepares meals ranging from sloppy joes and watermelon to chicken, rice, and beans. We relax in the clubhouse by either listening to music, watching tv, reading, studying for the GMAT, (Daniel Brauer) or playing cards. The position players go out, stretch, and get ready for the game at 6:15, while the pitchers have to be out by 6:35. Some pitchers play pepper, but others, like myself, enjoy signing autographs and talking to fans. The game starts at 7. While we keep track of what’s going on in the game, me and my other bullpen mates also talk about baseball and other matters that will not be discussed on this site. (Note: HBO could have a field day on a television series entitled “The Bullpen”) At the end of the 4th inning I go inside and get a 10 minute leg stretch to get ready to pitch the end of the game. Relievers are generally notified that they are in the game the half inning before they are in the game. This gives us 3 outs to get ready, which can take 2-25 minutes depending on the inning. Learning how to get your body in its best position to pitch in warm ups is definitely an acquired skill, and one that I work every day on improving. As the closer I am ready to pitch in every game and genuinely love doing so. The game ends at roughly 10pm. I shower and leave by 10:30, get some dinner by 11, and watch tv till about 12-1. I try to get 10 hours of sleep before the next day’s cycle begins.
For those of you keeping track, we are at the field for 9 hours every day for six straight months. We get a grand total of 12 scheduled off days during that period. After paying taxes and club dues I make $4,350 during that period, or $2.68 per hour. (Note: in another entry I would love to discuss the necessity of a union for minor league players) I go through this because my passion is pitching. I love the feeling of being in control on the mound ready to compete against my peers. My dream is to be able to do this at the major league level so I get to turn my passion into my career and get paid more than $2.86 per hour.
Now for some questions.
1) What are the differences between the New York-Penn league and the FSL, both in terms of competition and atmosphere?
2) What was the transition like going from big-time college ball to being a pro? Is it like a job for you?
Tom (Boston, MA)
In terms of talent level both leagues are very similar, but in terms of consistency, and ability to capitalize on mistakes the leagues are vastly different. If I made a mistake with a pitch in the NYPL I would pay for it about 20% of the time. In the FSL I would estimate about 40% of the time (By pay for it I mean give up a hard hit) On the contrary, when I am on my game and hitting spots with the correct pitches both leagues are identical in terms of competition. The crowds are very similar as the majority of our games are being played in front of less than 1,000 people. The weather is a big factor in coming to the FSL. Adjusting to the blistering heat and humidity is easier said than done.
ACC college baseball and minor league baseball are so incredibly different, and it goes way beyond the metal vs. wood bats. It is all about mentality. In college everyone is pulling together for the common goal of winning the game. In the minor leagues everyone is more concerned with how they are doing individually then the success of the team. It was plainly stated the first day I showed up to spring training when they told us the number one objective is developing players to be able to play in the major leagues. This idea is completely understandable as baseball is a business with the goal being to get to the big leagues so we can produce revenue for the owners. The irony of this situation is when you make it to the big leagues the mentality is supposed to switch to team oriented goals. To answer your question, “Is it like a job for you” the simple answer is yes, but it’s a job that I love with all my heart and soul. Baseball feels like a job in college, as we were at the field for 7 hours a day plus we had to manage a full class schedule, and fit in a social life. You can say a lot of things about baseball players, but those of us that make it to the next levels have learned to manage our time.
I know you and your teammates # 1 goal is to make it to the big leagues, but what do you do or maybe as a team to deal with distractions . I have been to Clearwater in the summer and I know there are a lot of distractions for a 23 year old male in Clearwater, it has to be hard to eat, breathe and sleep baseball.
First of all, you are right. There are a lot of potential distractions in this area, but to be honest with you, we are usually so drained by 11pm that we would rather relax on our couch then go out. When we do go out, we go out together, and there is almost always an off day the next day. The majority of the team has girl friends so the need to pick up women is not as high as you might think.