Ahh Extended, the mythical “bone yard” if you will, when everyone goes to their affiliate some people are left down here for various reasons, and it gets really lonely down here. There are various reasons people are down here as opposed to breaking with an affiliate club, and with this being my first time in Extended Spring Training I am again learning new things about the whole process of being a professional. They say once you think you have this game figured out; you get humbled in a major way.
There are some people down here that are injured and they are working through those ailments and usually have a time table of when they are going to be out of Florida but for us guys down here that are down here for other purposes we have no idea about when we will be moving up and out of extended. I’ve wrote in the past about the failures I had last year due to a lack of control and that was something that was addressed with me from the coaching staff and it was definitely something that needed to be changed. They asked me to stay back and work on things in a “non-pressure environment” so that I can get everything ironed out and then when I am ready they will move me out and I can begin my 2012 season.
I started working on some mechanical changes with one of the pitching coaches in spring training, and they liked the direction I was going but just felt that I needed more work which I understood. My mechanics got really out of whack somehow last year, and I am glad that the problem was addressed and I am even more grateful that fix was found extremely fast and I was able to work on things with a purpose. Extended challenges you in a different way, we are still down here day and in and day out just like you are at the affiliate but instead of going at things in the afternoon we do everything from about 7am-2pm which games starting at about 1pm daily. We go through our daily routines of pitchers fielding practice, team defense, and individual defense. There are some players down here who weren’t invited to normal spring training; which consist of extremely young Latin players that are getting their first taste of the United States and possible first time on an affiliated ball roster.
Going through drills and things can get difficult at times, but it being down here helps a lot of the Americans with leadership qualities because the young guys are eager to learn and figure things out so it provides plenty of opportunities to help out and get things figured out. One main difference of extended is that each person is down here doing something specific as I mentioned before. Some people are working on mechanical changes, maybe a new pitch, or rehabbing an injury and there is a lot of time dedicated to working on those specific things so guys can get better and out of here to join a team and start their season.
There are multiple ways we are working on our craft down here with individual coaching before and during practice, as well as honing things in during games. We play games against each other and against other extended teams from different affiliates so you get the feeling of the game situations yet if you fail or still need a feeling for things it would hurt you in the statistics. Although the days can get long and sometimes bleak, the road to your dreams sometimes isn’t a straight line and if this is what it takes then so be it all you can do is clear your head, listen, and get better. Something that a very smart person told me is that “All you can do it work harder” and this little saying has helped me a lot putting things in the right perspective, although you start to antsy being down here when you start to see a little progress you have to realize certain things are a process and if you stick with that process and not deter from the plan, you will be rewarded in the end.