It seems like VZL winter ball just ended and already we are talking about Spring training and how that is just around the corner! I had an absolute blast of a time in the VZL and I learned a lot of things, although my numbers really don’t show it. I was able to work on some things with the help of a pitching coach that has never seen me before; and thus he was able to look at me with a fresh set of eyes and help me out. What was great about still playing that late is that not only did I get to hear those suggestions, but I was able to use them in a game situation right away and test them out and continue to work on them. I am extremely thankful that I had that opportunity as I think it is going to be vital for me going into the 2012 season.
Alas, another season approaches and I am extremely excited for 2012 and to put 2011 behind me. For me, 2011 was a season that was filled with a lot of learning and going through new experiences and dealing with a lot of adversity and failure on the mound. I did have my bright spots and I really feel like I started to make a turn around the corner when the season was coming to an end. So I am eager to get 2012 started. I spent most of the year last year as a reliever, and I believe that is what I am going to do this year as well, although I am not too sure. Preparing to be a reliever is not much different from being a starter for me. I have my routine and what I like to do in terms of lifting weights and running. But when it comes to throwing, I might have to tweak it a little bit.
After the season ends, the Nationals send all of its players a manual it really wants us to follow in terms of running, core work, lifting, and a strict throwing schedule. This is extremely helpful in terms of them making it a step-by-step program for the players and easy to follow. Right now, I am taking some time off from throwing since I technically just got done with my season about 2 weeks ago. I will pick it back up once the new year starts, but that doesn’t mean the other aspects of my training have stopped either. I feel like if I stop running, it will be really hard for me to get to get back to where I currently am before spring training starts.
My mindset right now is to do everything I can to make it to the next level in 2012. I really feel like I lost myself a little bit in 2011 and tried to do too many things and over think myself. I just didn’t allow myself to be as successful as I was in 2010. I learned a lot about myself and my own mental game down in the VZL and I think that will pay dividends for me this year. What I personally need to do to get to the big leagues this year is to attack the strike zone more and stop nibbling around the plate. I had a horrible tendency to try to make a perfect pitch every time and I wound up falling behind in the count and getting hit or walking people. When I walk people is when I truly get into trouble. I was able to work with Calvin Maduro with the Baltimore Orioles down in Venezuela and we just talked about the mental aspect of pitching. Just being able to do that and get a new view on things really helped me.
Overall, I am very excited for the 2012 season to start and to get ready for spring training. Although I am technically just starting my “offseason” right now, I have a few more weeks of letting my body rest. Then it’s back at it for about a month and a half before its time to report back to Florida!