When in Doubt, Run
Day one has come and gone. There were no surprises, which is a very good thing when players rely so heavily on routines to keep their wits about them. I took the 7:00am bus from the hotel (there is also an 8:00am bus, but with the day beginning at 9:00am, I would not have the prep time I need to get ready for the day). After arriving at the complex, I changed into workout clothes and got on the bike to warm up, and followed this with a stretching program. I had a little more free time today than I would some days after finishing this warm-up because early work has not yet started. I will delve into those sessions later this spring. So, I donned the uniform for the first time since September, and headed out to the field for the 9:00am meeting.
Today’s meeting was a lengthy introduction so we could meet the minor league coaches and support staff, go over rules and regulations, and discuss objectives. The main takeaway from the objectives discussion is that our goals are not to merely make a certain minor league club or make it to the Major League team in Anaheim; rather, our goal is to make it and stay in Anaheim. While we are all still fighting the odds that 5 percent of minor league baseball players will ever play in the Majors, if you do not have the goal in your mind, why are you here?
After our orientation, the day pretty much flew by. Stretching (30 minutes). Run. Long-toss (10 minutes). Run. Bunt drill (10 minutes). Run (you might be sensing a pattern). Blocking drill (10 minutes). Run. Transfer drill (10 minutes). Run. Hitting factory (30 minutes of bunting, fungo, curveball, and tee stations). Run. Batting Practice (hit for 15 minutes and shag for 30 minutes). Run. Bullpens (45 minutes – I caught three, 8-minute bullpens). Conditioning (eight sprint-jog-walks).
Correct, we run on our way to everything. These are not all-out sprints, but we are expected to get to our next destination on the move. So, if you are in doubt, run. Somewhere. Anywhere. Even if you go to the wrong location, at least you will not have wasted as much time trying to find the right location than if you were walking.
After finishing the outdoor activities around 1:15pm, it was back inside to change back into workout clothes so I could do my cool down and flush the legs. I grabbed a soup and sandwich (which will lunch almost every day of the spring–good thing they are good sandwiches), and quickly ate the soup while I put the sandwich away for later. I went to do a cool down on the bike for 15 minutes, and followed that with some stretching (yes, I stretched three times today) and ab work.
So, with the work over, it was time to flush out the legs in the hot and cold whirlpools. The idea behind alternating two minutes in the 102-degree hot tub and one minute in the paltry, 55-degree cold tub is that the muscles relax and expand in the hot tub, then the cold tub causes everything to tighten and the lactic acid is basically squeezed out of the muscles. From experience, I can definitely say that things tighten up while soaking in 55-degree water. It is a good thing I spent quite a few summer vacations in the chilly water off the Cape Cod beaches growing up, although this water seems much colder than it was there. After doing three cycles of soaking, the day was finished and it was time to head back to the hotel.
Today began with me getting up at 6:30am and leaving the complex a little after 3:00pm. It is spring training for a reason, and days are only going to get longer when we start full squad workouts. But, everything we do during these days has a purpose: to get us prepared for this season, and help us to make it to Anaheim.