It’s a weird thing, silence. On one hand it can take you to places of your brain that you haven’t explored in an extremely long time, which could have positive and negative qualities depending on the mindset you are in. On the other hand it can force you to reflect on what you think the future holds for you, and imagining circumstances that life might come at you with, you just seem lose yourself in thought with no recollection of how or why you got there, you just did.
As I sit on yet another hotel bed, just like the countless ones I have before in my career, listening to the sound of jets taking off from the airport I can’t help but imagine what this step in my baseball journey is going to be like. What are the fans like? Is this just like MiLB? Or maybe is this what the big leagues are like? How is the competition? How am I going to handle being a starter again? Are we going to be good? Am I going to be good? Will I master what the Nationals want me to work on? These are just a few of the countless questions that are floating in my head, and as each one pops up in my brain seemingly from nowhere I am again trying to figure out this crazy journey we are all on called “life”.
Starting out in pro ball I never knew that opportunities like this were possible, I knew that some guys went overseas trying to hold on to the last moments of their career as long as possible but I knew nothing of the winter ball opportunities that are available to us until this year when I got to AAA. When I was first approached about the possibility of playing I balked heavily at it because I was un-aware of how things were handled down in these various leagues but after learning more about them I grew more and more anxious about wanting to play. When I heard the scout for the Bravos de los Margarita was in the stands to watch me play for a possible recommendation it felt like I was in college all over again with the scouts watching my every move, I was a little nervous.
Luckily for me things worked out and here I am now. This year was filled with incredible swings for me, the first half of the season I struggled extremely badly with some adjustments I was trying to make to my pitching style and my numbers showed it. After a promotion to AAA, things started to turn around. It’s a crazy thing this game is, people judge you by numbers and by what you are producing as it is very hard to see the work and the sweat and the struggles that occur daily in the mechanics work to try to find that exact fit. I had amazing coached and coordinators who helped me along and adapted suggestions to my pitching style, and in the second half things clicked for me a lot better than they did for me in the first half.
The best piece of advice I received while I was playing was when someone told me to “grade you from the second half on, forget the first half that never happened. Your season begins in the second half. Everyone has to have their worst season ever and best season ever just don’t constantly beat your own record for the worst.” I took that to heart and made the second half the beginning of my season and I think it worked as my numbers were a big turnaround” I really learned a lot about myself this year as a pitcher from all my struggles. I truly learned that no matter how low you get, no matter how many times you get hit hard there is a chance to redeem yourself. I believe you learn the most when you are at your lowest point, and as ballplayer I got there this year and that’s when revelations hit me and I started making that turn. My grandma had a great quote that she always lived by and she said “Everything happens for a reason”. And I truly believe my struggles happened to me to learn, and boy did I.
Now that being said, its brings me again to this point sitting on a bed in another chain hotel listening to those planes thinking of what this experience holds in store for me (which I should know already you can never actually know exactly what life has in store for you, that’s the fun of it). But I know what I need to work on, which for me is attacking hitters and staying in favorable counts. When I walk people, things snowball on me and big innings happen when I feel like I am in control of things and I am constantly getting ahead is when I am at my greatest. My goal in Venezuela is to reduce my walks and attack hitters, and be more pitch efficient. Since the team in Margarita and Washington both decided that I could be a starter for the winter ball team I really want to try to be as efficient as possible with my pitches, and throw as many innings as I can.
I learned many things this year in the bullpen which I know will help me in the long run with being a pitcher, starting has always been my comfort zone but being in the bullpen really helped me expand my talents and to sit and learn from the guys who have been in the big leagues in the bullpen. I know that going down to Venezuela will just add to my arsenal for when I get to make my MLB debut. I sit and look at guys on TV who were fast tracked to the big leagues in a whole lot less time that it has taken me, but the path that has so far been laid out for me has been filled with turns, trades, bumps, and pitfalls but in the end as long as that gold is at the end of my path it is all worth it in the end. I know age (26) works against me, but that’s ok because one day when I toe the rubber of a big league mound, even for just one batter it was all worth it in the end.
I will continue to update my blog with videos, pictures, and various insights as I am in Venezuela. I am extremely grateful that you readers are along on this journey with me and I hope you continue to come back and read my blog. I thank you all so very much, the next time you read this blog I will be with my new team. I thank you all for joining me, here’s to the next step in the journey.