I apologize for the long delay in blog postings, but the off-season doesn’t lend itself too very many exciting things, but with the 2012 season that means the Backfield Diaries are back! I love reading everybody’s twitter posts counting down the days to pitchers and catchers and when they are coming to spring training and how excited it gets people as whole.
For us, the players, we are just excited but with that excitement comes an insight that it is time to go back to work, yes this fun GAME we all love is also work for some of us. For the nationals pitchers and catchers officially report on March 2nd, but it’s customary that most of the players come to spring training about a week early to get their feet wet, get back into the groove of things so that when things get going full throttle we already have a feel of what’s going on. Spring Training is full of hopes, dreams, and the possibility of what might be in the up-coming season but also for some of us it is also an end. There are always more people in spring training than roster spots, and unfortunately some of us have to go home and either try again with another team or think of different avenues to take.
I believe the off-season is where you make your season as an athlete. All the coordinators, coaches, and managers harp on the off-season and how important it is for the individual player. The off-season is funny in a way because no-body cares that you did 15 wind sprints in under :45 or that you are doing your rotator cuff exercises, but the moment you strike out with runners on 2nd and 3rd down by 1 or you walk three in a row people want to point fingers, but I believe that’s where the off-season comes into play. The off-season is really a time of pushing yourself, no-one tells you that you have to be somewhere at a certain time and if you miss a lift or running no-one is there to tell you that you missed it. I believe that a lot of mental toughness is attained in the off-season since you are the only one that you have to report to for a few months and it’s all about how you can push yourself and get the most out of yourself.
Having the pleasure to talk with some players who played in the 80s and 90s they talked about how spring training was used to get the body in shape, and get everything going and how it’s since changed. Both the Nationals and the Rangers have a comprehensive workout schedule for their players in the off-season so we can come into camp ready to go bull bore in drills, games, and playing every day. For us, the players, there are no guarantees that we will have a roster spot or where we played at last year is where we will start the new year. Every year coming into spring training there is anticipation and willingness to impress and show how much you have improved over last year, which would be extremely easy for me to want to do since I didn’t have the best year. I struggled, and self-admittedly I struggled mightily, but I put more pressure on myself this off-season to become a better player, but most importantly I became a student again.
I came back to my hometown and worked with a pitching coach that I have worked with for many years, and I got back to watching video of myself throwing well in 2010 and what the differences were between that and some video I have of myself in 2011, and I found I got myself into some bad habits that caused me to have some control problems, and leave the ball up in the zone and ultimately have a terrible year. Being able to get into a training facility where I was familiar, and being able to train and workout 5 days a week has allowed me to put more pressure on myself than anyone else could exude, so instead of trying to do more than I am capable of and being a pitcher that I’m not like I tried to do in 2011, I am now more confident and calm heading into this 2012 year that begins for me in 10 days.
With 2011 firmly behind me, I am out to prove to myself that the pitcher that took the mound wasn’t me, and I am able to bounce back and be the pitcher I was before that year.
Let me unofficially welcome you to the 2012 season! Here’s to a fantastic year, because as a person who is much smarter than me told me “It doesn’t matter where you start, but end up that matters, compete for a jersey in spring training and if it’s not the one you wanted, then prove yourself in season”