The jump……

      It is a widely accepted belief that the jump from Hi-A to AA baseball is the hardest jump that a minor league baseball player as to make in his career. For me, when I made that jump it seemed to me that the hitters got more patient and they would wait the pitch that they wanted to hit, instead of chasing everything. If you are a pitcher that throws strikes, this shouldn’t be a big problem for you, but if you have problems locating a fastball then you could get hurt with a big hit if you happen to walk a few people. The biggest difference in hitters when making the AA to AAA transition is now every pitcher throws relatively hard and knows where it is going. Now, not only does the physical side of the game come out a lot more in AAA, but you hear the terminology of being “cerebral” be thrown around a lot, and it took me a few days to recognize what that really means. To me it means thinking but not…..make sense? Well, as a pitcher, you cannot be on the mound and thinking, “ok I want to throw a fastball… but what if he’s expecting a fastball? Does he know, I know what he’s possibly thinking? Maybe, I should go throw a curveball here.”  See what I mean? Being cerebral to me means knowing what pitch you want to throw in what count and having conviction in it, no matter what the pitch is and what the count is. I recently had an outing where I felt extremely strong and I felt extremely positive about a certain pitch I wanted to throw to lead a batter off, and he just happened to deposit it over the wall…..it happens. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the hitter. And it was in that second, that I learned very quickly that sometimes things like that will happen, more so at the higher levels.

 

     From what I have seen since I have made my AA to AAA jump, is that the biggest difference in the game is everyone has a clue in what they want to do. When the batter is in the box he knows exactly what he is looking for in every count and if it’s not there they will not swing under any circumstances, and every pitcher knows what they want to throw in every count. There seems to be no guess-hitters in the lineup or pitchers who are just up there throwing, like you see in the lower levels. I will admit that I have gotten away with some pretty poorly located pitches, but they weren’t the pitches the hitter was looking for.  In my last outing, a batter hits a 0-0 low and away fastball the opposite way for a homerun. There is a lot more thinking going on at the AAA level that I have noticed. Gone now are the free-swingers and the rear back and “huck-it” guys. Looking back now, it wasn’t truly pitchers and hitters.

       

        I have been fairly pleased with the way I have been performing up here, and I am just taking it day by day in hoping to stick with the club. It’s very hard to stick around at the higher levels, especially when you were a “call-up” because guys are going up and down at the major league level so much so, that when you get a chance you have to prove to the coaching staff and upper level management that you belong there.  There is a very small window to try and stick, and every time you step in the batter’s box or on the mound you have to go out there with something to prove.  The days are gone of “just feeling for it.”

 

        Traveling is different up here as well. Gone are the days of the 10-13 hour bus rides. Instead there is the welcoming arms of 4am wake-up calls and 530am flights to your destination city with an hour layover, usually somewhere only to turn around and play at 7pm at night. Don’t get me wrong, I love that the extremely long bus ride days are over, but 5am flights aren’t something to write home about to mom either (haha). I feel, up in AAA, there is very much a big league feel, like inadvertently they are trying to keep the same atmosphere that is up with the big club in order to keep your up and down AAA/MLBers accustomed to it and letting us newbies get adjusted. Overall, I say things have been very positive for me and I only hope I can stick around and keep progressing and learning everyday, just as I have been doing all season.

 

     After all whether you are in short season ball or AAA ball, we are all on those backfields together and it is the goal of everyone to get off those and become the player whose name you cannot forget and not the “player to be named later.”       

The Call…..

             It’s been no secret that I have been struggling at the beginning of this season, and I was searching for something to get me going in the right direction. I started to feel little better when I made a transition to the bullpen, where I was able to throw more frequently so I was able to work on my mechanics and feel more confident with them in game situations. I started to feel better about how everything was feeling, when the least expected thing happened to me.

    My roommate came barging in my “room” and I use the ” ” because my room consisted of me blocking off a portion of the living room with black sheets so that I could have a little privacy. So my roommate came through my “door” and told me that I had to call the manager immediately. When I was told that, I asked if he knew anything and of course he didn’t so I called him with a million things running through my mind. He told me to pack my stuff because I needed to get on the road to Syracuse as fast as I could. With a million questions running through my mind, the only thing that I could think of to say was thank you and “am i up there for good or is this a short term?” I obviously knew the answer being “I have no idea” which no-one really does, because this is such a fickle industry and it is based on performance.

    Before my managers words could even sink in, I hung up the phone and proceeded to fill every plastic bag, suitcase, and box that I could get my hands on. As quickly and oddly efficiently as I could get everything packed, I got my entire life together packed it into my roommate’s car. He drove me to the field, where i was met by the trainer who had my travel plans for me which had me returning a teammates car and then picking up a rental car of my own and driving it for hours to make the game in Syracuse.

    I tried calling everyone and anyone that was close to me on that drive (using a Bluetooth, don’t txt or talk and drive!!!) trying to answer everyone’s question as best as I could but it all seemed everyone had more questions that I had answers. The drive seemed to take about 20 minutes because my head was spinning about a thousand miles an hour and I was thinking of grateful and blessed I was to be blessed to be in this position and have this opportunity. In this game there is a lot of luck that is factored in you make it to the big leagues, not only do you have to be good but you have to be good at the right time and when you get an opportunity you have to make are you take 100% advantage of it, and I knew this is what I had to do with this one especially since I faltered out of the gates in AA.

One of the first people that I called was my girlfriend, but she was embarking on a journey of her own. I was able to convince her that she should come spend the summer with me, living with me while I was playing baseball for the summer and she was in the middle of her drive as I was promoted. I called her and told her that she needed to re-route and drive an extra six hours to come to Syracuse. I felt incredibly bad for her, because she was already coming from the south so she already drove an extremely long way but her first reaction was that of complete and utter enthusiasm for me and just telling me how proud she was, and at that time I was extremely grateful that she was coming because this was the first time that I was promoted in the middle of the season at any level and I was a little bit nervous going into a new city but I knew she would be with me so it calmed me down a lot.


            By the time I got everything together in my apartment and in my locker in Harrisburg, running to the airport and finally hitting the road, I left around 1:30pm to start my journey to Syracuse. Pulling into the stadium with about 45 minutes until game time, I rushed into the stadium to find a familiar face in the coaches office, that of Randy Knorr. Randy was my coach when I came over from the Texas Rangers and was assigned to Harrisburg so it was a little bit of a calming affect too seeing him. He explained to me my rolls in the bullpen and how things were being run, and with a few short words I was out of the office trying to find my locker and get acclimated with my new team. I got too my locker and set my stuff down, and a familiar number was staring at me in the face, the 40 gleaming at me on the back of the home whites with “Tatusko” above the number. With a slight smirk on my face and a deep breath, I put on my first AAA jersey and headed out to the bullpen with an extra kick in my step.

The game wasn’t going exactly how we planned it on paper, and when the starter hit his pitch count limit, the team on the wrong end of the score the manager and pitching coach decided that it was time for this guy to be thrown in the fire. To say I was nervous was an understatement. Jogging in from the bullpen mound to the game mound, the only thing I could think of was too not walk the first guy I faced but the thought of that was silenced the butterfly’s in my stomach and my knees knocking. Thankfully everything went well, and I got the through the eighth inning against the best hitting team in the league without any harm and managed to sprinkle in a few strikeouts in the inning. Coming off the mound, I acted like it was all business for me as usual and that it didn’t faze me too be out there, but the little kid on the inside with his grass stained baseball pants, his hat four sizes too big had the biggest smile on his face. He too was reflecting on what it was like to be in the “minors” at eleven years old and being asked to play in the “majors” (14+ age), being able to pitch an inning and getting an ego-boosting strikeout. Sitting in the dugout, among the slaps on the leg and the “great jobs” that’s where my mind and heart were, on that sun scorched little league field with my dad in the dugout. It felt good to be in that place again, as it was the first time I have been there in a long while…….

Until next time readers……. 

 

 

No

                This is one of two articles I am going to write this week. I was inspired to write this piece by a friend of mine and a video on you tube that I watch quite frequently that I have linked at the bottom. It hit very close to me when I started thinking about it, so naturally I just wrote!

                As my close friends and family know, the things that go through my head on a daily basis very widely and can be quite scary at times (haha). But the thing I started thinking about today is “If I had one last speech to give to someone before I passed away, what would the topic be on?” And what I settled on was being told no.

                Everyone in their lifetime at some point or another has been told “no” to something, albeit something small or significant everyone has been told this small, yet powerful word multiple times in their life but the question I raise is do you have to listen to it all the time?  I remember being in grade school and having an elementary school teacher and we had to do a project on jobs where we researched them thoroughly. I remember being all excited to turn mine in about being a professional baseball player, and she made me re-do my research paper because she told me I needed to pick a job that would be realistic. Now she wasn’t some mean teacher, in fact she is one of my favorite of all time but in her own way she was telling me “no.” I can’t tell you along the way the amount of people that have recited me the statistics about major league baseball, or the people that still do to this day but I just smile and nod and go about my business.

                Where would Bill Gates be if he listened to the people telling him he was crazy? What about Einstein? Trump? Any President?  Someone has to be in these positions, and nine times out of ten it’s a tough struggle to be where you want to be if you want to be something of prominence. Where I am going with this is; too many times I hear stories of people that say Well if I…. or What if I….. and I ask you why not? Too many times people are so worried about the destination that you forget that ¾ of the journey is getting there and enjoying that path. Life is a journey and I feel people, myself included, get so caught up in where they want to be they forget to enjoy the moment they were in and then they look back and go “wow, where did the time go?”  I sometimes get so caught up in living my dream of playing in the MLB that I forget to sit back and enjoy being on a baseball diamond, the smell of fresh cut grass, the uniform, and the smile on the kids faces watching us play.  Life like anything is too short, and the question that I have posed to myself and to you, my reader, is why not? I feel like people come up with a multitude of excuses as to why they cannot do something so they can rationalize their actions and give an excuse to not venturing out but I feel that’s what life is truly about. Life experiences make the best stories, and no-one has ever had a good story where they couldn’t do something it all starts with a risk, a “yes”, a belief in one’s self, and a willingness to try.

                I do understand there are responsibilities in this world, and certain things that all people must do. I am not sitting here trying to convince you to sell all your worldly possessions and go live in the outback what I am posing is before you say no to something; step back and think of the reasons why you should you never know you just might end up with a great story to tell later! After all if I listened to all the people who told me that no-one wanted to read about a minor league baseball player, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

Sometimes people tell you no, hoping they will be proved wrong.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

A big thank you to everyone who submitted questions, I hope all the questions were answered to your liking (ha ha). I really hope I can do this again in the future. -Ryan

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