And were off! Spring training is starting filled with hopes and dreams of what the season ahead will bring. Spring training used to be a place where the athletes came to get in shape and work the rust off to get ready for the season but with a recent paradigm shift it has not became a sort of proving grounds for us, the players to show that we deserve to play one more year with our organization and that we have what it takes to play at the level we think we are capable of playing at for the organization whether it is Short Season or MLB.
Derek Jeter had a great quote that says “You gotta have fun. Regardless of how you look at it, we’re playing a game. It’s a business, it’s our job, but I don’t think you can do well unless you’re having fun.” There is a lot of truth in that quote, Spring Training is a time to have fun and be with friends that you might not have seen in the off-season but it is also time to get to business. Spring Training is a lot like groundhogs day, it’s a lot of the same stuff but it is also things that have to get done in order for you to be successful for the upcoming season. I will try and run down a typical day for you so you can understand.
Right now it’s just pitchers and catchers that have reported so the position players aren’t down here so most of the things that we do revolve around our jobs and responsibilities after we have delivered the ball. We start the day with a talk from one of the coordinators about what is to be expected of us that day and what they want accomplished for the day. Usually we focus on a few core things to master for the day, and then the next day we will focus on a few things I really like this way because you are not being thrown tons of information to try and process but you are able to focus on a few key things each day and get them mastered. After the talk we stretch with all the strength and condition coordinators which lasts for about 15-20 minutes and then it’s on to our throwing program for the day which is contingent on if you have a bullpen that day or not. Usually we throw about 12 to 15 minutes a day, and it is up to you to go however far you want, usually the guys go to about 120-140 on a nice arc to get the blood flowing.
After the throwing program is when we break up into different stations. Since there are so many pitchers there is an A and a B group (means absolutely nothing, it’s a blind draw) then in those A and B groups we were further broken down to groups of 6 that are numbered 1 thru 4 (again completely random and mean nothing). Depending on the day, you will throw a bullpen that is on your own pace for about 7 to 9 minutes in length at the intensity you want, these bullpens are for guys to get there arms ready for throwing down a slope again and to let some of the cold weather guys get outdoors since it is almost impossible for us to get outdoors. During the bullpens it is up to you, the individual, to pick the order of your pitches and how many you throw but the coaches and coordinators do ask that you try and split your time equally among the stretch and the windup.
After you throw your bullpens you start to go into your field rotations, out in the backfields we have 4 diamonds in the shape of a clover and then a half diamond that has a fence go around it just outside the infield dirt. On this half field we will work on our signals from the catcher pertaining to various pitches, and pitchouts and things then we will also work on bunt defenses and what our responsibilities are during situations when a bunt might happen. Activities that go on in other fields include but aren’t limited too: base running, bunting, backing up bases when there are runners on, what to do on a pass ball with a runner coming home, covering first base on a “in-betweener” hit and turning double plays. Like I mentioned earlier, we focus on just a few of these things each day and cover others on different days. We don’t spend much time on each field covering a topic, but the Nationals get A LOT of work done during the limited time we have.
After the hour and a half or two we spend on all these, it’s time for conditioning and core work with the strength and conditioning coaches. If you had a bullpen that day, then you usually do a long distance run like continuous poles or a mile and half run, if you didn’t its more sprint work and agility work. When that is said and done, we head in and depending on what day it is you get a full body workout weight lifting session in.
That’s pretty much each day in an nutshell while we are at pitchers and catchers right now, when the position players show up we will incorporate drills with them to get everyone on the same page and to get ready for games. Although the workouts don’t seem very long, there is definitely a lot of work to be done and it gets done with a stern purpose there is no downtime during the day.
I hope this gives you, the reader, a little insight as to what we do to get prepared. If you have any topics you would like to see covered or to just drop a comment please feel free to contact me at Ryan.Tatusko@gmail.com or on my twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RyanTatusko
Until next time