Slumping in Public/SP or RP?

                They say in order to find yourself you must first get completely lost, and I my friends, lost the map. It doesn’t take a statistician to figure out that this season hasn’t begun like I thought it was going too but the great thing about any slump is that you always have the chance for redemption and that is the path that I am starting down.  The biggest part of the problem is trying to figure out what’s wrong, too many times people spend all their time to figure out what went wrong instead of diagnosing the problem and it becomes time wasted as your problem just snowballs on you even more.  Being in the public eye while trying to correct your problems, especially as a pitcher, where your box score is published every night can be very scrutinizing and taxing as you are trying to figure things out or figure out what went wrong.  I, for the time being, have been placed in the bullpen to figure things out and where I went wrong and to give me time to fix it. One of the best things about being inside the bullpen is that you are with seven other guys who can watch you when you throw and everyone can help in diagnosing you, although we are all vying for the limited number of spots in the big leagues we all also lean on each other to for help when things just don’t seem to be going the correct way it’s a very bizarre paradigm if you ask me but I am very thankful to have great teammates and coaches to lean on and try and figure things out as well as coaches and family back at home for advice as well. The strange thing about slumping is that when you are doing it you don’t ever remember when you were good and it just seems to weigh on you even more as it feels the weight of the world is crushing down on you as the entire stadium is there to just watch you fail, again. Last night I think I had my epiphany while talking with coaches and watching video and I do believe I figured out what I was doing wrong.

                I have been receiving many emails about the differences between the bullpen and the starting rotation and if some people have preferences. I would say that about 98% of pitchers have a preference as to what they want to be doing, but sometimes it doesn’t matter what you prefer but what you can adapt too. Starting pitchers have to have more stamina and do a lot more running in between starts to maintain your body. Starters usually have three good pitches that can get someone out, whereas relievers have two with a few exceptions.  Usually when you are a relief pitcher you are only going to be in there one or two innings so you can show your full repertoire right away to the batter because you are not going to be going through the lineup more than one time so you don’t have to “hide” pitches for the second and third time through the lineup. Relievers tend to throw a little harder than starters because they can go out there for their one or two innings and “blow it out” per-se whereas starters have to pace themselves for five and six innings, so your guys like Verlander and Sabathia that can maintain 97mph throughout the game is truly amazing. Being in the bullpen there is a lot of down time for talking, psychology self-help, silly games, and my favorite past time people watching. It’s amazing what grown men can and will do to keep themselves entertained in a bullpen and the topics of conversation that come up but if you threw the day before and you know that you’re not going to be throwing that day then you have to keep yourself occupied somehow.  Personally I think both have their merit and as to which I prefer, I do like starting but I am learning on how to be a reliever because I believe that is where my big league future lies with the Nationals, so even though I have been put in the bullpen to help figure out my mechanics and recent slump I am also taking this time to learn on how to get ready in a quicker manner and to be ready at any time, after all you can’t be too good at too many things! Until next time.

Please I encourage you to email me with questions, comments, concearns to Ryan.Tatusko@gmail.com and I will address them in my blog posts

I want to share random pictures that I have every so often to kind of show some of the off-field things and we do and to give my readers a candid look into the life and times of the back-fielders

A Typical Day

        Let me first start off this post and say thank you to everyone who has been reading this! I thank you for the continued positive feedback. Please email me with more topics you want to see covered here and I will write about them.

I have been receiving a lot of emails about expanding on what we do during a typical day that we have a game.  Let me spell out what a typical day has been like in Harrisburg so far. The day starts off with a lift for the position players and the pitchers that threw the previous night at a local gym starting at about10:30am or they can choose to do it at the field if they want too. The workout usually lasts about an hour to hour and a half, and after that you have to try and pick up some of the healthiest fast food around which tends to be Subway, Quiznos, or whatever else you can find around City Island. Putting you at about noon(ish) now, you can either choose to get to the park extremely early and sit in the clubhouse and watch some MLB network and eat, or you can try to go back to your your apartment and eat rather hastily and then go to the field. This poses a tricky situation because sometimes you don’t mind being at the field really early and sometimes you don’t mind it. If you are not lifting and are just showing up, I usually leave my apartment about 1pm(ish) and pick up some food and go to the clubhouse and eat and get the day started.

Getting to the field early (about 2pm(ish) the guys just kind of roam around and possibly get some treatment if they are banged up but this is just really a time to get your bearings and find out what you have to do for the day. At 3pm every day, like clockwork, the pitchers stretch on the field about 45 minutes before the position players. At this time we will stretch, throw, and get our individualized running in. Bullpen pitchers will do something different that the starting pitchers, who all do something different depending on the day we are starting. During this time as well, there will be a few pitchers that will throw bullpens to the catcher that is down that particular day. After all this gets done, if you are at home then you will hit batting practice right away for 45min or if you are on the road you go back in the clubhouse for a little bit waiting for the home team to finish for you to go out and hit. After BP we take it back into the clubhouse where we get a light snack. Various card games take place to pass the time and people will listen to their IPOD while we are waiting for the other team to finish their BP round, and for the grounds crew to the get the field ready for the game.  The atmosphere throughout the day is fairly light regardless of whether we won or lost the day before, as everybody seems to have the mantra of a new day, new opportunity.

   i know it seems like there is a lot of down time throughout the day, and it may seem that were not concentrating on moving up in the organization or being focused on our next opponent but that is quite the contrary. If you are constantly thinking about your last performance and what you did to the team the night before or your last start then you are going to drive yourself crazy. You cannot fixate yourself on something 100% of the time because you start to over-analyze things and things become too complicated. Baseball is already complicated enough without letting your head get in the way. I agree that you have to study tape and charts before a game to see how a certain pitcher pitched you in the past or how you did against a certain team but you cannot dwell on it.  When the players get off the field, and when we are fortunate enough to have off-days we are encouraged to get away from baseball and just get our mind off everything. When you are at the park 11-14hrs a day for 7 days a week, it truly becomes a mental grind and no matter how mentally strong you are, every player begins to break down a little bit.

One of the biggest things that we all like to do for fun is to play XBOX, there are some heated tournaments and game playing that goes on. Since Harrisburg has quite a few golf courses that the guys love to play, yours truly is no good so I tend to stay away from the links although I do want to get better. Baseball takes up about ¾ our time throughout the days, and when you include traveling for away games, it can consume all of it, so any precious free time that we can get to not drowned in baseball thoughts is nice. The grind the people talk about is not as much physical as it is mental, our bodies have been trained for things like this, and our instincts usually take over when we are playing or doing anything that involves baseball, but it is our mind that starts to break down throughout the year. When you allow thoughts of going up, promotion, demotions, and how you are playing affect you it can become an extremely long season. Not only does getting away from baseball help you mentally, it also gives you a sense of “normalcy” and that is always a welcomed treat.

  All this talk about an off-day is making me glad that we have one on Monday. Again I welcome all questions, comments and concerns to: Ryan.Tatusko@gmail.com. 

 

Adversity

Overcoming adversity is the main objective that all baseball players have to face. Nobody likes to go 0 for 4 or leave a game in the middle of the second inning, and sometimes it might be hard to look forward to the next game, but luckily for us we get to play the very next day and don’t have to wait around for a week like football players do.  Adversity doesn’t have to necessarily be on the field, there is adversity off the field that the players face more of on a routine basis. Knowing how to control your social life, love life, and professional life can be a delicate balance that can even have the most experienced psychiatrists puzzled.  Being gone for seven months can really mess with a player and constantly being on the road really takes a toll on the body and the mind.  When the players first get sent out to their respective cities, there really isn’t any help finding a place to live its almost just a free for all. You will usually get a three night stay in the hotel and some recommendations from past players, but each and every person has to go out and find their own place to live.  Trying to find a place to live in the very beginning can be a stressful thing, especially if there is a college in the town and all the apartments have been rented out already by the local college. Sometimes you have to put three and four people into a two/three bedroom like I am currently doing here. Yes as I am typing this I am sitting on my luxurious twin sized air mattress that I bought at everyone’s favorite bargain retailer. Although you want to find something that is nice, you also need to be economical with what you are doing. The little money that we do make has to stretch a long way, and sometimes you have to live without some creature comforts that people take for granted every day. Because I was bribed in having to pay a little less on the monthly rent I reluctantly decided that I was going to make the living room my bedroom and sacrifice any privacy I would have with owning a door. This sort of thing is very common in minor league baseball, and although it seems to be a little rough at first you learn to adjust and just go with the flow…..it is definitely part of “paying your dues.”

We also don’t get to travel luxuriously like everyone thinks professional athletes do. You see on TV all the time that people line up to meet the team plane on the tarmac to wish their favorite team a job well-done, but when we leave for a road trip it is usually after a 7pm game and we travel all night arriving very early in the morning ready to play the next day at 7pm all over again.  On these bus rides it is almost a no rules engagement except for when it gets really late and people just pass out. Most of the players use this time to try and catch up with family members on the phone, the same movie is playing for the 20th time, people are trying to talk over the movie with each other, card playing is happening on a cooler that was fashioned to be a table with a little MiLB ingenuity and I’m trying to write a journal article all the while some others want to sleep. You have to be able to roll with the punches, and not be too picky when it comes to travel because 30+ people packed in a greyhound isn’t what anyone wants when you are traveling between 5-6 hours up and down the east coast. Although these things don’t sound like fun to the average person, I have some memories that will forever be ingrained in my head and friends that last me a lifetime based on the experiences we share and the situations we are forced into. 

The main problem that MiLBers really face on the road is food! Professional athletes, as you might assume, can eat a lot! We usually will have lunch and dinner at the home ballpark as we have a club house attendant who takes care of us (that we do pay….albeit its less than we make) and they usually have pretty good food for the “home guys.” When you are on the road, its a total toss up as to who you are going to get and what kind of food you are going to receive at the ballpark; sometimes it full meals and sometimes its just chopped up fruit and PB&J sandwiches. Some of the funniest experiences that I have come across in my time in the minor leagues is watching someone calculate food options and available meal money for the week. Multiple conversations with ourselves go like this: “Well I can have a really nice lunch one time and then its the dollar menu the rest of the week or I can do applebees and then just eat spread and then do applebees again?” These conversations we have with ourselves take place almost every road trip and almost nothing goes to plan, because as soon as you think you have something figured out someone asks you to lunch, you say yes and its back to the drawing boards.

Just by reading this you can see adversity comes at us in many different forms when you are playing, but I believe that if you are able to handle things down in the minor leagues, then it will make you appreciate what you have when you make it to “The Show!” Everybody has to pay the same dues when you are coming through the system, and no-one is immune. If you want to have a great example of what it is like, watch Bull Durham! Although the buses are a bit better, the travel is exactly how it is depicted in the movie, and it is for sure not one of the perks of playing minor league baseball, but unfortunately that’s how it goes. Because one day we will not be the players to be named later, we will be the players whom you remember the name!

Until next time!

Please browse the photo gallery below to give you a better idea of what I was trying to explain in my blog.

If you have any questions or comments please email them to me, or if there is anything you want answered please send that to me as well at: Ryan.Tatusko@gmail.com

Slumps…..

                We are one out away from declaring a winner in this year’s World Series.  Bottom nine, three and two, two out, bases loaded.  Pitcher looking in for the sign, exhausted, beaten and yet somehow trying to muster up every ounce of determination and will he has for one last pitch. He has the sign he wants, comes set , rocks and delivers………….

                This is the scenario that every little kid plays over a thousand times in his head and in the backyard with his friends whether you are hitting or pitching you are always being carried off the field by your teammates in a flurry of confetti, hugs, and high-fives.  The road to that one career defining moment is a tumultuous one filled with mistakes, adjustments, improvements that you or I can ever see coming. Every person has an idea how they want they season to go when they are packing their bags for spring training; either hitting .300 with 20HR or winning 15-20 games with a sub 3ERA and some people are very fortunate to put together a season exactly like that and its smooth sailing and then there are the other 98% of us that might not get out of the gate as we expected too. Baseball, as in life, is a series of adjustments that you make to become better.  Sometimes those adjustments work and sometimes they do not, but the biggest thing about professional athletics is that those adjustments are being made in the public eye there is no privacy in the diamond. Trial and error happens in the batter’s box and on the mound.  After a game players, including myself, are dissecting ourselves and each other about what they saw, felt, and could be doing differently to be getting that extra mph, that extra snap on the curve or discussing why that ball didn’t go into the gap but instead was a lazy fly ball to the 2nd baseman.

                I, myself, have not gotten off to the start that I envisioned when I first arrived to Viera, FL to camp, and just like everyone else I cannot help but dissect everything down to the smallest movement to figure out what is going wrong. Being in a performance based industry, there is a strong urge to succeed a lot and right away so there is constant pressure to perform at your best all the time. With this pressure, a ballplayer will tend to do things on the field that are not in their norm to try and get a little something extra and that are where they can start to go wrong.  Every single person who plays a professional sport has essentially been doing the same thing day in and day out since they were initially taught and it is ingrained in our head as to what to do. When things start to veer off path it is amazing how much we do things differently or by what means we try to find new things that can help us push past a certain slump. Every person is wanting to be in the spot in the world series, the one with the bat or ball in their hand in that critical situation but for every hour that people watch a professional athlete on TV perform they miss the 10+ hours on the practice field alone working on the most basic of things.  Minor league baseball players especially have a lot of free time to think which can be our best friend and our worst enemy at the same time. Hours and hours of bus rides, hours before game time, and that critical time after a game all can get the best of us. But for this reason as well I believe the minor leagues are special, 99% of us aren’t signed to million dollar deals after the draft and we have to go out and prove our worth day in and day out, those that do are forever emblazoned in fan’s memories and those that don’t fade away into obscurity with the only memory being a faded signature on someone’s baseball in the attic. Do you have the will, the strength, and the mentality to not only thrive but survive because in the end that’s what it is about to me.  Can you survive knowing you will fail, knowing you will be beaten, knowing you will not get the job done and still come back the next day and have the confidence in yourself to do everything that is asked of you?  That’s what puts those people on TV and those of us dreaming of being on TV.

Please submit and questions or comments you have via tumblr or by email for future articles you will see written! Thank you for reading! You can message me on here or email me at Ryan.Tatusko@gmail.com

Ryan

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